Eight aged care workers from Papua New Guinea (PNG) attended their first shifts in aged care in Queensland this week – the first PNG participants to arrive under the Federal Government’s expansion of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
The employers will work in Southern Cross Care aged care homes in Chinchilla, Murgon and Taroom west of Brisbane to help fill staffing gaps ahead of looming mandates that require a Registered Nurse (RN) to be on-site 24/7 by next month and to provide residents with 200 minutes of care each day by October.
Southern Cross Care Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jason Eldering, said the PALM scheme has already successfully brought more than 600 aged care workers from Pacific nations and Timor Leste into Australian facilities where they have been well received.
“The arrival of these workers will be enormously beneficial, and they will be warmly welcomed by our residents, families and loved ones, staff and within the communities where they will live… We will ensure that our new arrivals feel valued for the important contribution they make by bringing their skills, vibrancy and diversity to our homes.”
While recruitment has posed a challenge for the industry, the housing crisis is still alive and well and posing particular challenges for PALM scheme workers to obtain accommodation while they are working.
To help combat this, Mr Eldering has said Southern Cross Care is in the process of obtaining housing so these workers have somewhere to live.
“We’re purchasing housing ongoing at the moment. It’s not our core business, but it’s something we have to do just to make sure we can attract staff,” he told ABC Southern Queensland.
More than 600 PALM scheme workers are already employed in residential aged care homes across the country and from this month, the Australian Government will support an additional 500 workers to attain formal aged care qualifications.
The addition of PNG workers to Australia’s aged care sector is part of a growing reliance on PALM scheme workers after it was expanded to allow workers to apply to work in our aged care industry.
The total number of Pacific and Timorese workers under the scheme in Australia has risen from just over 24,400 a year ago to just over 38,000 today.