Aged care providers have called for federal government support to address the workforce crisis facing the sector and improve the quality of care in this week’s Budget.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) recently marked the anniversary of the Royal Commission by calling for:

  1. A Workforce Partnership Supplement for providers to spend immediately on increasing wages, training, minutes of care, 24-hour nursing and COVID-19 prevention and workforce retention costs.
  2. A minimum wage increase for aged care workers by funding the Fair Work Commission Work Value Case, and award wage increases from July 2022.
  3. A commitment to a multidisciplinary workforce by putting in place an allied health needs assessment and funding model by July 2024.

In its pre-budget submission, the AACC also made clear the urgent actions required on COVID-19, workforce and sustainability.

Recent analysis from AACC shows that its workforce is on the brink of the poverty line, with wages for aged care workers having failed to keep up with the cost of living.

The Budget and the Budget-reply are an important opportunity for the major parties to make clear their commitment to resolving the aged care workforce crisis.

The Royal Commission’s workforce recommendations are the key area of unfinished business. Its final report, handed down one year ago, presented us with a once-in-generation opportunity to overhaul aged care so that we can give older Australians the care and respect they need and deserve.

While the AACC welcomed the response by the federal government in the May Budget in 2021, we have not seen a detailed plan to consult and deliver on the announced reforms. It is clear that there is still so much work that needs to be done, and prioritised, to solve the key structural issues identified by the Royal Commission.

Since the start of the pandemic, aged care workers have gone above and beyond to deliver care. They have been on the frontline of the response, keeping people as safe as they could in uncertain times.

They should be getting the pay they deserve and career certainty. The Royal Commission recognised this. It called for higher wages, better qualifications, and more time for workers to spend with older people.

As we approach the 2022 federal election, the Government and Opposition have both so far failed to commit fully to implement and fund the Royal Commission’s workforce recommendations.