Minister consults sector ahead of jobs summit

The recent aged care workforce roundtable offered an opportunity for providers to advocate and plan for the future, attendees tell CCR.

The recent aged care workforce roundtable discussed all the key issues and offered a valuable opportunity for providers to advocate and plan for the future, attendees tell Community Care Review.

More than 20 stakeholders attended the aged care workforce roundtable last week at Parliament House. It brought providers, academics, advocates, union representatives and advisory council members together so that the government can better understand the practical solutions for the sector’s workforce issues.

Claerwen Little

Among them was Claerwen Little, national director of UnitingCare Australia – the national body of the Uniting Church’s network of service providers.

“It was an exciting event which brought together some of the best minds in the aged care sector. We were all united in our commitment to tackle the critical challenges before us and build a sustainable, innovative and world class aged care sector to support older Australians,” Ms Little told CCR.

Almost every workforce issue was covered, including training, minimum hours, retention, migration and funding for increased wages, she said.

“We also discussed best practice and incentives for clinical care workers to return to the aged care workforce, and that our aged care workers need a proper career progression path,” said Ms Little.

The roundtable was an opportunity to plan for the future and deliver on the reforms, she said. “We thank Minister Wells for her leadership and passion for finding a way forward for older Australians, their families, aged care workers and providers alike,” added Ms Little.

“Aged care reform needs to be done once and done well.”

Anika Wells

Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells led the event with former New South Wales premier Morris Iemma facilitating.

The roundtable provided an opportunity for sector stakeholders to suggest topics to be discussed during next week’s Jobs and Skills Summit on 1-2 September.

Issues discussed during the three-hour roundtable included job security, making aged care an attractive career, access to education and training, the role of migration and creating innovation.

Ms Wells said the event advanced discussions on critical topics that will lead the government’s reform measures across the sector.

“Aged care reform needs to be done once and done well and that’s why consultations like the Aged Care Workforce Pre-Jobs Summit Roundtable are crucial,” Ms Wells said in a statement. “It was great to see such healthy dialogue among a wide array of stakeholders.”

Ms Wells said government and stakeholders must work together in order to improve the lives of aged care workers and care recipients who have been neglected for far too long.
“We need ambition for aged care,” said Ms Wells. “We need to be innovative and have thought leadership.”

Remote and regional services a key topic of discussion

Also among the stakeholders attending was general manager of Australian Regional and Remote Community Services Wendy Hubbard. She told CCR attending the roundtable was a “valuable opportunity” to advocate on behalf of regional and remote care services.

Wendy Hubbard

“We were able to highlight the terrific work ARRCS does in ensuring we have enough skilled staff to provide culturally appropriate care in the Northern Territory and share our views for the solutions needed to ensure that regional and remote communities continue to receive the same level of care as our urban communities,” Ms Hubbard told CCR.

“We look forward to working with the Minster [Wells] and the federal government in delivering aged care to our regional and remote communities,” added Ms Hubbard.

BoltonClarke chief people officer Mel Leahy told CCR the provider was interested in a number of areas of discussion. “Wages – more investment to attract workers; a campaign to improve perception of aged care as a career; education, skill development and career paths; opening up aged care workers in their own visa class and speeding up processing time.”

Ms Leahy also said the sector needed to be a “more constructive” industrial environment. “Enterprise bargaining no longer works and creates an adversarial environment where providers simply can’t afford to put improved conditions on the table due to insufficient funding indexation.”

“Any workforce plan for aged care also needs to address home care.”

Sector peak the Aged & Community Care Providers Association was also represented on the roundtable.

Paul Sadler

“We are looking forward to next month’s Jobs and Skills Summit and to working with the government and key stakeholders on developing a plan to address acute worker shortages in aged care,” ACCPA interim CEO Paul Sadler told CCR. “The roundtable was a good start in setting out the key issues which include staff shortages, pay and a recruitment plan.”

Staff need to be recruited as quickly as possible, added Mr Sadler, if providers are to meet the required minimum minutes of care. “We also need a practical and realistic plan to get there that avoids adding to the pressure that current staff are already facing.”

Mr Sadler also told CCR that, “Any workforce plan for aged care also needs to address home care, where new clients are already being turned away because the providers cannot find enough staff.”

Discussions must include dementia orgs

Maree McCabe

Meanwhile, noting that no-one representing people living with dementia attended the aged care roundtable, Dementia Australia released a media statement in which CEO Maree McCabe said any discussion informing the Jobs and Skills Summit must include quality dementia care and education as an issue.

“While it is crucial to have aged care providers and union representatives at the summit, it is equally important that those able to build the capacity of the workforce and develop meaningful and rewarding career pathways are also included,” Ms McCabe said. “Embedding a minimum level of compulsory dementia care education is as important as increasing staffing numbers and wages.”

Main image: Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells led a workforce roundtable with 20 stakeholders at Parliament House last week Source: Twitter

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Tags: Anika Wells, featured, jobs summit, Maree McCabe, Paul Sadler, wendy hubbard,

1 thought on “Minister consults sector ahead of jobs summit

  1. The fundamental issue is having WELL trained care workers meaning ALL care workers need to have a minimum qualification – Cert 3 to not only provide better care but have this linked with higher wages, what is the point of increased wages if it not linked to better outcomes for workers and residents? This is a dynamic role that requires a high level of skills, knowledge . The next step is to legislate for mandatory qualifications for all workers who conduct direct care, over many years, I have observed many poor examples of care provided by poorly trained staff . At least this should place higher value of the role and responsibilities that are required to provide care to the vulnerable and frail adults, and attract more workers to the sector. Why is it that we allow big organisations to run their facilities for profit? shouldn’t these organisations be looking at ways to redirect some of their profits to higher wages and better quality of care? If these fundamental changes do not occur, the current situation will never change.

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