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ANF welcomes “once in a generation” aged care reforms

Wednesday 26th June, 2013

The Australia Nursing Federation (ANF) has commended Federal MPs and Senators after the passing of new Legislation which will reform Australia’s aged care sector and deliver an urgent wages boost to underpaid nurses and care workers.

ANF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said the Living Longer Living Better package will result in increased wages flowing through to nurses and care staff from July 1.

Wide ranging improvements across the aged care sector to deliver quality care to older people

“As Australia’s largest health union, we commend MPs and Senators for their support of this once in a generation reform of the aged care sector,” Ms Thomas said today.

“The whole Living Longer Living Better package encompasses wide ranging improvements across the sector which will deliver quality care to older, vulnerable people.

“Importantly, it addresses the low wages paid to nurses and care staff throughout the sector, consumer directed care, new access points through the gateway and increased access to community care for older people in their homes.

“The ANF commends the Federal Government, Coalition and the Independents on their commitment to tackling the crisis within the aged care sector as well as the key industry stakeholders who have taken part in negotiations through the Workforce Compact.

“We also believe the package has been strengthened by an amendment which recognises needs of special needs of homeless people in the delivery of aged care services and the consequent $29 million for a homeless supplement.”

Urgent wages boost to underpaid nurses and care workers

Ms Thomas said the wage increases delivered through enterprise bargaining is the first time in many years that Federal Government funding would flow “directly into the pockets” of aged care nurses and care workers.

“Currently, 20,000 nurses are urgently required to work in aged care to meet the challenges of Australia’s ageing population, which is of great concern to the ANF,” she said.

“That’s why we welcome this reform of the sector which will provide improved wages for nurses and care staff and deliver quality care to the most vulnerable people in our society – Australia’s elderly.”

Government must ensure these improved wages for those delivering quality care to Australia's elderly

Ms Thomas said to access wage increases for workers, aged care employers must vary the current enterprise agreement or negotiate a new agreement, through the Workforce Compact.

“The ANF is now calling on the Opposition to commit to continuing  the Workforce Compact if it wins the Federal Election in September to ensure these improved wages for low paid aged care nurses and care staff who can deliver quality care to Australia’s elderly.”