Aged care providers, workers and experts have used this week’s Senate Inquiry hearings in Western Australia to call on the Turnbull Government to take action to ensure we have an adequately skilled and equipped aged care workforce to care for our rapidly ageing population.
The aged care workforce crisis is accelerating and will hit us in the next 5-10 years if action isn’t taken. 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 Abbott/Turnbull Government has a shameful record of ignoring and mishandling workforce pressures in the aged care sector.
The aged care sector is fatigued because of all the chopping and changing over the last three years by this Government.
To date the Abbott/Turnbull Government has taken an axe to workforce measures, abolishing the $1.2 billion Aged Care Workforce Compact, a nasty $40 million cut to aged care workforce measures including training, and most recently slashing billions from the Aged Care Funding Instrument without consultation or financial modelling.
Other key issues raised surrounded attracting and retaining aged care workers and in particular:
• 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.
The Turnbull Government is a policy maker and funder, and it’s time for them to realise that aged care workforce development is not an optional policy area.
The Turnbull Government needs 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.
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