An aged care peak body is calling for carers working via the Pacific Australia Labour Migration (PALM) scheme to be eligible for sponsorship and for the cumbersome visa application process to be streamlined.
Catholic Health Australia (CHA), which represents 12% per cent of Australia’s aged care facilities, is advocating for this Government-wide approach to visa sponsorships to help address massive workforce shortages in the aged care sector.
To combat this, CHA has proposed the PALM scheme should involve training and work experience for Pacific migrants working in Australia to support workforce demands and to better develop a future skilled workforce in partner nations.
Additionally, CHA is advocating for a health and care worker passport to simplify compliance checks, decrease visa application costs and processing times, and the immediate implementation of the Fair Work Commission’s 15% pay rise for aged care workers.
They are also supporting workers unions’ call for a 25% pay rise, as inadequate wages remain a major obstacle for recruiting and retaining staff.
CHA Aged Care Director, Jason Kara, urged the Government to take decisive action before the situation becomes dire.
“On top of migration changes, the government must also boost pay after the Royal Commission and the Fair Work Commission accepted that workers are underpaid and that this is a key reason for ongoing staff shortages and negative perceptions of the value of working in aged care.”
The conversation about aged care cost and questions about sustainability of the sector are ongoing, while most providers continue to operate under severe financial pressure.
CHA’s pre-Budget submission stated that the sector needs to fill about 60,000 job vacancies, a figure that is set to worsen with by to 6,000 nurses and 10,000 personal care nurses predicated to leave their roles by October.
Despite the implementation of aged care reforms and funding last year, the sector continues to suffer from financial decline.
While it is clear that more funding and lasting reform are the only solutions to this issue, CHA has voiced that not all of this money should be taken from taxpayers, especially if wealthier older people who receive care have the means to contribute more.