The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) has vocalised their support for further pay rises for aged care workers to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) work value case.
ACWIC described further pay rises as a critical step to alleviating the critical workforce crisis affecting the delivery of high-quality aged care services.
The push for additional pay increases follows the FWC awarding an interim 15% pay rise late last year after ACWIC, health unions, aged care providers and older people contributed to the sector’s consensus statement on the value of those working in aged care.
Since the interim pay increase was announced, the Government announced it would slowly roll out the increase over 18 months.
Now, health unions and ACWIC are pushing for the interim 15% raise, which they believe is not enough, to be closer to 25%.
ACWIC Chair, Libby Lyons, said that fair pay for all aged care workers is fundamental to quashing the sector’s workforce shortages and attracting and retaining workers to provide quality care for older Australians.
Outside of direct carers, ACWIC believes the pay increases need to reward all staff that contribute to person-centred care which includes kitchen, laundry, recreation activities and administrative staff.
“This is about the provision of person-centred care that meets the expectations of our community,” she explained.
“It is not possible to provide the kind of care we want and in fact need for our parents, our partner, or ourselves, if we do not recognise, in financial terms, the value of the work that is delivered by the broad suite of these essential workers.
“We are experiencing a workforce crisis in aged care. Many aged care workers are struggling to make ends meet and are likely to consider leaving if wages and other conditions do not improve.”
ACWIC’s Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sarah McLelland, said aged care workers deserve to be justly rewarded for the important work they do on behalf of the community and be adequately paid to keep up with rising inflation and cost of living rates.
“Any pay increase must recognise the valuable role aged care workers play in our community,” Ms McLelland said.
“People are living longer, and workers are now dealing with more people who have dementia and other conditions that require a higher level of care.
“We understand the challenges and costs to providers of implementing a pay rise, but we also acknowledge the increasing cost of living for all Australians, particularly aged care workers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet with ever-increasing inflation and interest rates.”
Ms Lyons said that ACWIC also supported the recent changes to the Fair Work Act and submissions to the FWC that support the elimination of gender-based wage discrimination given that aged care remains a highly feminised sector.
“Improving wages in sectors that have historically undervalued women’s work will help to narrow the gender pay gap,” said Ms Lyons.