AINs caring for the frail aged earn less than shop assistants


Thousands of nurses working at for-profit aged care facilities are demanding that employers improve their wages and career opportunities, especially after the Federal Government’s recent decision to make $1.2 billion available from 2013 for better wages, working conditions, career and training opportunities.

What do you think?

The owners of the 157 for-profit facilities are members of the Aged Care Association – NSW (ACAA-NSW) and their current enterprise agreement expires on 30 June, 2012.

Their nurses are seeking a new agreement, which includes a six percent annual pay rise and a range of improvements to workloads management, leave arrangements and the treatment of qualifications and experience.

Thirty-eight of the facilities are in regional NSW and employ more than 1000 nurses. The other 119 facilities are spread across Sydney and the central coast and employ more than 3000 nurses.

NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) acting secretary Judith Kiejda said pay and conditions in the aged care sector continue to lag behind the hospital sector.

“All aged care employers have to do their bit to help achieve these better outcomes or the sector will continue to be plagued by staffing pressures and questions about the standard of care. Aged care cannot be allowed to become a sub-standard low-wage industry.

“The situation has become particularly serious for the NSW for-profit sector, which is now falling behind the charitable aged care sector in terms of pay. That is clearly not a desirable outcome. Average hourly pay rates at the moment are:

                                       Public hospitals          Charitable       For-profit AC

Experienced registered nurse          $37.47            $33.54                $32.06

Experienced enrolled nurse              $26.14             $24.66                $23.23

Experienced assistant in nursing   $21.04              $19.23                $18.94

“At those rates, an assistant in nursing caring for the frail aged is currently paid less than many shop assistants. For example, a Coles retail assistant earns $19.05 an hour. The nurses know that now is the time to act to fix this pay injustice. So does the Federal Government and, hopefully, so do these for-profit employers.”

What do you think? Leave your comments below!

Image credit: Employee of the Month via google images and aged care image via NSWNA 



  1. I just read the story about AINs who are paid less than shop assistants. It is really very true. I previously worked as a shop assistant in a takeaway shop and I was paid $20.53 an hour. Now, I am working as an AIN in a for profit age care and I’m only get paid $17.85 an hour. I am an overseas nurse with four years hospital experience in a tertiary hospital and currently studying nursing again in a University here in NSW. And I am now a 2nd year student, and I find it unfair to get paid for just $17.85 an hour especially when we do more hard work because we are always understaffed. I am assigned in a high care unit with 30 residents, with only 4 AINs but frequently with 3 AINs working only. I find it very exhausting especially in the morning because it is the busiest shift of the day where residents need to be showered and changed, tidy up rooms and beds and change bed sheets, get them ready for breakfast at 8am, put them in the toilet, clean up the mess in the bathroom after each residents are showered or toileted, served food and feed them, collect trays and clean up the table after each meals, bring the soiled linen and rubbish down to the laundry and bin, plus every now and then some of them will want to go to the toilet or need to be toileted and need to repositioned and pad change, do observations (vital signs check), fill up and do paper works, and if there is no kitchen staff available we also do the kitchen staff job (serve food, wash the dishes, clean up the kitchen area, etc… and still after do the nursing job)…can you imagine how the AIN worked from 6:30am-2pm??

    As an AIN we dont walk, we always almost run to give our residents the quality care they deserve and we the AINs after each shift have always an aching back. It’s very hard work, and I always felt like crying when I get home because I’m so tired. And for those who never worked as an AIN, there’s no way you will understand what we are going through. We get hit, punch, kick and verbally abused by some residents…but still we continue to work and care for these people.. because if we don’t, who else will care for them?

    So, do you think this is fair?

    • That’s way too low. I work at a low care facility that is more like high care but we get $20.95 and I thought that was low. I started doing aged care PCA in 1994, it was $15 then in a dementia ward, so has risen very little over a 21 year period – disgusting.

  2. I guess that is why they are called “for profit organizations,” you need to earn less so that they make a bigger profit. If I were you I would go back to the takeaway shop and reap the rewards.

  3. As a registered nurse with a lot of years in aged care, I cannot speak too highly of our personal care assistants, or whatever their title. You are the very backbone of our service, & the love & dedication you show is beyond belief, inspirational. Every day I work I am thankful for your support, the kindness & warmth & good humour you show the residents, & your generosity in what you give to the people you care for & to the staff you work with. You are shamefully poorly paid, but you have nothing but admiration from me.

  4. I am working in an aged care facility doing the work of an AIn, I trained as an AIN, gained my certificate to be an AIN and now the facility have changed our designation from AIN to GSO. They have done this so they can keep paying us the lowest rate possible. I would like to do something but am at a loss how to tackle this one. Each time I turn up for work I change my designation back to AIN on the roster sheet. I am hoping someone will notice so I can have my say. Otherwise I think I will just front up and complain about it. I am sure this practice is not legal or at least unethical.

  5. Having recently entered the aged care sector for work, I am shocked and amazed at the award wage for Assistants in Nursing. Shocked, as these people are the surrogate families of some of the aged and the frail (where their families are either unable to or choose to not look after them) and amazed because a lot of these workers are sensitive, caring individuals who do things most people would gawk at for the money they are paid.
    One has to be in this profession because they are giving and caring individuals, as to carry on doing the tasks one must as an AIN is a challenge in itself. It is hard work and distasteful at times.
    It is a shame that the government does not see fit to raise the basic salary structure these (mostly) beautiful people currently earn. Shame, shame, shame. Almost every other profession gets paid more.

    Would you leave your ailing mother and father with a carer who earns on average $19 an hour or a solicitor who earns $500 an hour? Then why would you not raise a hue and cry in asking that Aged Care Workers be better paid? Remember, we are all going to be aged and helpless one day and shall need this very contingent of people to look after us. It’s not your relatives who will be looking after you – it will be Aged Care workers. What would you pay them to look after you?

  6. I hear you and I’m sure many other AINs feel the same. People don’t understand what we put up with and the wages certainly don’t fit our job requirements. Employers know we do this job because we care for our residents, it’s cetainly not for the money and that’s how they get around it.

    I feel we need some type of union that will fight for us and get us the pay and opportunities we most certainly deserve.

    Nurse Uncut says: You can join the nurses union in your state! In NSW, that’s the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association – many AINs are members.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here