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Govt Urged to Take Action on Aged Care Workforce

3 October 2016 at 11:34 am
Wendy Williams
Aged care providers, workers and experts are calling on the Turnbull government to take action to ensure there is an adequately skilled and equipped workforce to care for a rapidly ageing population.

Wendy Williams | 3 October 2016 at 11:34 am


Govt Urged to Take Action on Aged Care Workforce
3 October 2016 at 11:34 am

Aged care providers, workers and experts are calling on the Turnbull government to take action to ensure there is an adequately skilled and equipped workforce to care for a rapidly ageing population.

A public hearing into the future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce heard cuts to the sector, adequate pay and nationally consistent training were issues facing the sector when it came to attracting and retaining aged care workers.

Following the Senate Community Affairs References Committee’s inquiry, Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing Helen Polley urged the government to “sit up and listen to the aged care workforce sector”.

“The aged care workforce crisis is accelerating and will hit us in the next five to 10 years if action isn’t taken,” Polley said.

“We need to see a tripling of the aged care workforce in the next 30 years – something the sector is ready and willing to work on with the government.

“Deep concern about the repercussions the Liberal government’s cuts are having on workforce development was a reoccurring theme throughout the hearings.

“The aged care sector is fatigued because of all the chopping and changing over the last three years by this government.”

Other key issues raised during the inquiry included:

  • adequate pay and remuneration for a sector renowned for being physically demanding, poorly paid and having limited career paths
  • more incentives and support for younger and mature workers wanting to upskill or retrain to work in aged care
  • better support for workers in rural or regional Australia in terms of travel and accommodation
  • nationally consistent training, qualifications and career development.

Polley said the government needed to take the lead and be the facilitator.

“The fall out on our healthcare system, hospitals and communities is far too great to ignore any longer,” she said.

The latest inquiry held in Perth comes after an inquiry into the future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce lapsed after the first hearing in Melbourne in April as a result of the 2016 federal election.

The committee received 296 submissions to the inquiry providing evidence surrounding:   

  • the impact of the government’s cuts to aged care
  • the current composition of the aged care workforce
  • future workforce requirements
  • the interaction of aged care workforce needs with the disability sector
  • challenges in attracting and retaining aged care staff
  • particular aged care challenges in regional towns and remote communities.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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One comment

  • Lyn says:

    Having worked in aged care from a very young age and having moved in and out of services for the aged and people with a disability I have seen much change, much for the better, but much that is also of a deep concern. Age care and community workers , when I commenced my journey, were not trained like they are today. Horrified! Well, although there was no formal training, there were measures in place, many of which have been replaced by formal training. I have managed a number of staff and also have worked in the recruitment sector where I have seen some very frightening government initiatives where skill shortages have seen a sharp increase in training funding for these sectors. Unfortunately, this has been used as a means to try to curve unemployment, but in-fact has pushed some very non-compatible individuals into the sector. It is a “humanistic sector” and some of the current workforce are not ideally suited to this work. There has to firstly be a match, secondly there has to be suitable and current training, provided by experienced trainers, many of which were professionals in this area, who have been since discarded because of TAFE funding cuts and a distance education approach…which does not work! Many have been in the sector forever, and have no idea about person centered care and continue to inadvertently dis-empower their clients (definitely not intentionally) but due to currency of knowledge and skills, being somewhat out of date, clients are not getting forward thinking carers. Carers who undertake distance study, often lack the communication skills to work with clients appropriately. There has also been n influx of carers who just see it as a job to get Centrelink off their backs, so arrive to work, high on drugs, under the influence of alcohol, no sleep and often do not adhere to their duty of care and organisational policies and procedures. Our governments have not supported this sector appropriately and some of the most vulnerable members of our community and being cared for for incompetent staff.

    To also mention that there are some amazing support people out in our community who are brilliant at what they do, but often they are carrying the load of others who should not even be in the sector

    I believe that all support workers should be required to undertake a minimum standard of study (accredited) along with a national registration, falling inline with WWCC and Police record checks. Re-registration every three years with certain requirements to be maintained.

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