Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, says the Government has reneged on a commitment to hundreds of thousands of aged care workers, by effectively reducing the rate of the Retention Bonus Grant during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a broken promise, a tax turnaround on what was promised in March with great fanfare,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“We estimate that the Government is taking at least $50 million out of the pockets of aged care staff, by effectively reducing the promised bonus paid to these tireless workers, who have done and are continuing to do, their best to protect the most at-risk older Australians from COVID-19.”

The Retention Bonus grant was announced by Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck on 20 March, who stipulated that residential care workers would be paid up to $800 after tax, while home care workers would be paid up to $600 after tax.

Payments are about to start but the new rules say the maximium payments will be $800 and $600, respectively, and all payments will be taxable.

“Typical aged care workers, earning between $37,001 to $90,000 a year, will lose over 30 per cent of their payment and perhaps more if they are receiving other means tested benefits or have a HECS debt,” Mr Rooney said.

“We support the Government’s move to pay incentives to a critical workforce that has delivered exceptional care while under great pressure.

“It is shameful that what was announced is not being delivered.

“We also call on the Government to make the bonus payment more equitable and extend it to all staff working to protect vulnerable older Australians receiving care.”

At present, the bonus is only payable to direct care workers in residential care facilities, including personal care workers, registered nurses, enrolled nurses and allied health workers.

However, laundry workers, cleaners, cooks, drivers and reception staff, who all play a role in delivering care and protecting residents, have been excluded.

The offering to home care workers is much broader, including those providing clinical care, personal care, cleaning, home support activities and meal preparation, social support, shopping, community access and transport, allied health and respite.

The Minister’s 20 March announcement is here

About Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)

LASA is the national association for all providers of age services across residential care, home care and retirement living/seniors housing. Our purpose is to enable high performing, respected, and sustainable age services that support older Australians to age well by providing care, support and accommodation with quality, safety and compassion – always.

We represent providers of age services of all types and sizes located across Australia’s metropolitan, regional and rural areas. Consistent with the overall industry profile, 56% of our Members are not-for-profit providers, 36% are for-profit providers and 8% are government providers.

Our diverse and representative membership gives LASA the ability to speak with credibility and authority on issues of importance to older Australians and the age services industry.

Contact: Nick Way 0419 835 449 nickw@lasa.asn.au