Supporting the Aged Care Workforce

Address to the House of Representatives, Questions without Notice - Aged Care

Monday 11 September 2023

Question from David Smith MP: My question is for the Minister for Aged Care. How is the Albanese Labor government helping support the aged-care workforce to end the era of neglect and provide dignity to older Australians?

Answer from the Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells: I thank the member for Bean for his question and acknowledge his advocacy for workers in his electorate like Libby, Jamie and Duni at Goodwin Aged Care, which the Treasurer and I visited with him earlier this year to share the good news that those workers would be receiving a 15 per cent pay rise above the award.

The Albanese government has more than 100 aged-care reform projects on the go at the moment, but perhaps our most important reform was to back those workers—to back the people who were left languishing by those opposite for nine long years. As the Prime Minister says, 'Aged-care workers deserve more than our thanks'—they deserve a pay rise. And that is exactly what we gave them. We invested $11.3 billion to fund a 15 per cent increase above the award for aged-care workers, to help attract and to retain staff. And this pay rise is having an immediate impact. Workers and staff at facilities like Eldercare Seaford, in the Minister for Social Services's electorate of Kingston, have told us that they now see a career in aged care, thanks to this pay rise. And we are hearing from providers that every staff metric has improved since this pay rise was introduced on 1 July. Staff attraction, staff retention and staff satisfaction are all trending upward since 1 July. This shows our commitment to lifting wages.

Today the broad impact of our commitment was revealed, with the average full-time worker $3,700 better off than they were one year ago. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data detailed by the Treasurer today shows wages for a full-time worker increased by 3.9 per cent in the first year of the Albanese government. That is the fastest rate of uptick in a decade, because our government cares about a fair day's work and a fair day's pay. Our government cares about getting wages moving again and our government cares about rewarding the skilled, in-demand and tireless workers in sectors like aged care—sectors where, for too long, they were told to just be happy to have a job at all. They were told to be happy to have a job that didn't reward them for the skills and the sophistication of the work that they do.

I acknowledge that there are many challenges in aged care, but with great challenge comes great opportunity, and unlike the previous government we are confronting those challenges head on and we are seizing the opportunities that come alongside them.