Contributed by Adam Carlton
Age care workers across Australia have been doing a fantastic job of caring for our vulnerable older citizens during the Covis-19 pandemic. Often in under resourced care centres. This is difficult work, and it has been underpaid for a long time.
At $21.96 per hour, it is just $2 above the minimum wage.
Through the Health Workers Union (HSU), health workers are now seeking a 25 percent pay rise. This would lift the pay rate to $28.86 per hour. The claim is before the Fair Work Commission.
In its interim report, the aged care royal commission found the sector “suffers from severe difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff”. It is likely that a combination of low pay, the failure to recognise the skills involved. And heavy workloads are behind these problems.
staff shortages, low morale, and high turnover ultimately impact on the quality of care.
The HSU president, Gerard Hayes, said the aged care sector has “relied for too long on the goodwill of an underpaid and insecure workforce of women”.
“It’s time for change,” he said. “Aged care workers are skilled. They provide care and support to our most vulnerable, to residents enduring episodes of sadness and at times anger. They should be recognised and paid for their skills.”
Hayes said the case is an “issue of justice” but “also goes to the sustainability of the system”. He cited the coming “workforce crisis”, with four in 10 aged care workers intending to leave the sector within the next five years.
“We need action immediately. The best thing the commonwealth government can do is support this pay rise for the long-suffering aged care workforce.”
Adequate wages and properly treated staff are an important part in ensuring an aged care system that is up to standard.
It is far from this in Australia. Cost cutting and inadequate care that strips those in many nursing homes from dignity, strips away meaningful activity is rife. Stress and mistreatment are common.
A big part of this is that the system is largely privately owned and for profit, and despite generous government handouts, the industry has failed to lift its game.
Nursing home services should be publicly provided, along the lines of what is needed to look after our older citizens no longer to adequately care for themselves, and not for the purpose of making a profit out of their need.