The Gillard government delivered its aged care reform package last Friday, which has been well received by the aged care sector. The reforms carry broad implications for all Australians, whether we have ageing parents or grandparents or are getting close to retirement age ourselves. For those who work in aged care, the reform package is a sweet and special victory, as it acknowledges that improving the pay, training and staffing levels of the aged care workforce is fundamental to ensuring the best level of care for older people.
There are direct benefits that will roll out over the next few years. Nurses and care staff in the aged care sector have been strained to bursting point in recent years and this injection of $1.2 billion over five years for the workforce can only be a morale booster. The ANF’s Because We Care campaign calls it “a victory for low paid nursing and care staff” and thanked the Prime Minister and Mark Butler, Minister for Ageing, for listening to the Because We Care campaign and National Aged Care Alliance (NACA).
“Currently, nurses in aged care are being paid between $168 and $300 a week less than their colleagues in public hospitals – with a critical shortage of 20,000 nurses”, said Lee Thomas, federal secretary of the ANF (who spoke compellingly on aged care at the National Press Club in Canberra on April 12.)
“This extra funding, delivered through the establishment of the Workforce Compact, will assist in closing the wages gap for aged care nurses and provide nurses with improved career structures and training opportunities.”
If you work in aged care, keep in touch with developments through our Because We Care: Time to Act for Better Pay Facebook page – the campaign isn’t going away, there’s still a lot to be done!
Image credit: NSWNA