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AWU calls on urgent action to implement findings from Aged Care Royal Commission

March 16, 2021

AWU Update

AWU calls on urgent action to implement findings from Aged Care Royal Commission

16 March 2021


Years of neglect in the funding and operation of aged care could be at an end following the handing down of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report this week.

After two years of extensive consultation, hearings and evidence from across the sector the Royal Commission has provided 148 detailed recommendations to improve the quality of care provided to older Australians.

The AWU is cautiously backing the report which puts workers at the centre of the aged care system and is urging the Federal Government to act on these recommendations urgently, for the sake of aged care workers and the people in their care.

Steve Baker, AWU Queensland Branch Secretary said “It’s unacceptable that one in three Australians in aged care are receiving substandard care. It’s a national disgrace.”

“We have a highly skilled and committed workforce – but they are underpaid, overstretched and have little job security.”

“It’s time the Government got behind them with the funding, laws and regulations needed to support workers in delivering the quality of care all Australians deserve.”

The Commissioners recognised in their report the critical and central role of aged care workers “whose dedication to care is impressive and worthy of more praise and reward.”

This long overdue recognition of the undervalued work of aged care workers is backed by practical recommendations for:

  • An increase in the award wage for aged care workers to recognise the value of their work, ensuring equal pay for men and women, and an increase in pay to attract staff to the sector.
  • Minimum staff time ratios to improve the quality of care by ensuring each resident receives the care they need and residential facilities are appropriately staffed – including a mix of nurses and personal care workers on every shift.
  • Direct employment of staff with enforceable labour standards whether staff are engaged by the providers or through another entity.
  • Training and professional development paid for by employers on a regular basis including training on dementia care, palliative care, infection control, mental health and other direct care skills.

These are part of a broader set of recommendations to completely overhaul the aged care system which has been “besieged by neglect”.

This includes tearing up two decades of legislation and delivering a new Aged Care Act with universal rights to quality, safe and timely support for elderly Australians.

Australians in aged care will be given legal rights to be free from degrading or inhumane treatment or abuse, and the right to freedom from restraint.

To deliver these changes the Royal Commission has recommended an increase in Government funding linked to the provision of care and the direct employment of permanent staff with decent pay and enough hours to live on.

To fund this increase the Royal Commission is recommending an aged care improvement levy, similar to the Medicare levy.

This is recommended to go hand-in-hand with greater transparency and accountability for Government funding – which accounts for around 80 per cent of the sector.

The AWU will be monitoring the government response to the report and its recommendations to ensure these are actioned appropriately and in a timely basis.

Steve Baker said “Our first priority will be ensuring the changes support elderly Australians and the hard-pressed aged care workers who are the heart of the system.”

“What seems to be missing is providing the COVID-19 heroes who are the backbone of the aged care industry the dignity and security of permanent and full-time employment.  The Federal Government needs to address this as it considered reforms if it want’s to achieve quality care”

“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to drive these changes as a matter of urgency to ensure every Australian receives the quality of care they deserve.”

If you have questions about the Royal Commission report and how it affects your workplace, please contact your AWU Organiser.

If you need any assistance at work, make sure you speak to your AWU Organiser or Delegate straight away.

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