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Aged care workers wage increase as sector looks ahead

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Aged care workers are set to welcome a larger pay cheque this month, after the Fair Work Commission agreed to increase the sector’s award wage. 

From 15 March, direct care staff could see their wage increase by as much as 28% (including the 15% awarded last year). 

Uniting NSW/ACT CEO Tracey Burton says while the wage increase acknowledges the hands-on workers, it is lacking when it comes to aged care support staff, who received a 6.8% increase.  

“We are disappointed the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations do not include the same 15% increase for indirect workers that direct care workers were awarded in Stage 2,” Ms Burton said. 

“Last year, while we welcomed the 15% wage increase for direct care workers, we were disappointed that so many other non-frontline workers, such as cooks, cleaners and administrative staff, were left out, and now while we are happy they have received a slight increase, we would have liked to have seen it be more substantial.  

“Let’s not forget all of our aged care workers were our heroes during COVID, leaving their own families to work and care for our elderly, often for extended periods.  

“The work is demanding, emotionally and physically hard, but so rewarding. This wage increase we hope will attract more people into the sector and into a career that is so fulfilling.  

“Our staff clearly don’t come to work for the money, they come to work because they love what they do, and now they will be rewarded fairly for that commitment and hard work.”  

Uniting NSW/ACT is one of the state’s larger aged care employers, with 7,296 employees in its seniors services. 

Eighty-two per cent of these workers are women, with the low award levels of pay contributing to the gender pay gap.  

TASKFORCE FUNDING 

The wage increases follow news of the government’s Aged Care Taskforce released last week. 

The Aged Care Taskforce reviewed funding arrangements for aged care, aimed at developing a fair and equitable system for the future. 

By 2063 there will be two older people for every three working age Australians.   

To plan for Australia’s further aging population, several agencies are urging the government to put systems in place now to ensure aged care is not variable depending on a person’s means.  

“Finding solutions for sustainably funding the aged care system that all senior Australians deserve really is the unfinished business of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and Safety,” says Ms Burton.   

“Uniting has always advocated that those people with means should contribute more to the cost of their aged care.  

“We are pleased to see this is a central recommendation of the Taskforce where those who can afford to will be required to contribute more to their accommodation and everyday living costs.  

“This is important to deliver the long-term funding sustainability of the aged care system.”   

Australia’s population will continue to age over the next 40 years with the ABS projecting the number of people aged over 65 will more than double and the number of people aged over 85 will triple.  

“As we move towards greater contributions from people with means we must have a razor-sharp focus on ensuring everyone will have access to high-quality care, regardless of their means. This is also central to the Taskforce Report.  

“This is particularly important for those in low wage jobs or with broken periods of employment, many of them women.  

“As the Taskforce notes, even with the maturing superannuation system, over half of older people will continue to receive some Age Pension either at retirement or as they draw down on their superannuation.    

“We want a system where providers can afford to provide aged care services to everyone irrespective of their means.”   

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