Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and State and Territory leaders have agreed that COVID-19 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments will be continued indefinitely so long as COVID-positive people are required to isolate, which has been a welcome decision for the aged care sector.
Following a National Cabinet meeting yesterday, Mr Albanese said as long as the Government requires mandated isolation for COVID-19 positive cases, they also have a responsibility to provide financial support.
“We remain, obviously, of the view if people are sick, whether from COVID or from other health issues, they should not be at work,” he said.
Responding to when an end-date for COVID restrictions could be considered, Mr Albanese noted that the risk factors have changed.
He said the Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, provided a positive statement on infections and death from COVID-19, including in aged care, where the infection rate has fallen to its lowest this year.
“What we are seeing [internationally] is gradually a move towards COVID being treated like other health issues,” he said.
Prime Minister Albanese indicated that Australia may follow suit with actions taken by other countries overseas.
Payment claims will be limited to a maximum of three payments over six months per person, except in extraordinary cases.
The payment will remain at a maximum of $540 for people required to isolate for five days.
Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) said they welcome the extension of the payment as it provided an important safety net for aged care staff if they contract COVID-19.
“The payment allows casual staff required to isolate if they have become infected with COVID-19 to continue to receive a wage,” ACCPA Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul Sadler said.
“The extension means that providers and their staff can continue to provide services in the knowledge that staff will be supported if they become ill and need to isolate.
“While case numbers are falling, ACCPA reminds staff and visitors to aged care homes to be vigilant in protecting frail older people. This includes keeping staff who test positive are safely away from the people they care for or support.”
Aged care workers are still required to isolate for seven days compared to the larger Australian population.
The National Cabinet is said to be discussing an end date for mandatory isolation when it meets in a fortnight.