Regional and remote Australians are at risk of losing access to home care services after the Fair Work Commission set a minimum shift time requirement of two hours for part-time and casual workers.
These changes fall under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry (SCHADS) Award and are not relevant to full-time workers.
The decision to increase the minimum payment requirements was intended to provide greater job security for care workers. However, some providers can not meet those requirements for services in some locations.
Maggie, a wheelchair user in regional Victoria who utilised three half-hour visits per day, told ABC News she may have to give up her independence because of the Fair Work Commission changes as she won’t be able to access home care services in her area.
” [Home care support has] actually been terrific for me to continue a degree of independence,” Maggie said.
“I don’t need any more than that [three half-hour visits each day].
“I have to weigh up: what’s going to happen next – do I sell my place and go into care?
To receive any support, Maggie would have to book a two-hour home care visit or the worker would need back-to-back bookings with multiple clients.
Although some providers have been able to continue operating as normal, regional and rural support services have been the most affected due to long travel times and client demand.
The cost of a two-hour visit has also proved too much for several clients who were already paying extra on top of their Home Care Packages.
Paul Sadler, Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), told ABC News there needs to be a temporary solution put in place as many Federal Government funded Home Care Packages will not cover additional incurred costs.
“The client might only need an hour’s worth of service, but then you can’t roster a second person because of the travel time,” Mr Sadler said.
Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, told ABC News the Federal Government will go after home care support providers who are not supporting clients.
“There’s people trying to do the right thing, who are scrambling now to make their rostering system more efficient, right through people who will just pass on the cost and who are doing the wrong thing, and that we need to go after,” Minister Wells said.
“I’m under no illusion that aged care is in crisis and home care, in particular, needs a huge reform to make it work better for everybody.
“That’s why we are going to reform support at home.”