Thanks to persistent campaigning and lobbying by unions, the federal government today announced a long overdue 15 per cent pay increase for aged care workers.
The federal government will allocate $11.3 billion over four years to aged care providers for them to pass on to their workforce from 1 July 2023.
This increase is said to impact 250,000 aged care workers, including registered nurses (RNs), enrolled nurses (ENs), assistants in nursing (AiNs), personal care workers (PCWs), head chefs, cooks, recreational activities officers, and home care workers.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) General Secretary, Shaye Candish, cautiously welcomed the announcement:
“Given the historic lack of accountability placed upon aged care providers, we share concerns that legal mechanisms to deliver greater transparency remain unclear.
“Accountability of taxpayer funding is key and we urge the government to ensure any pay rise is delivered to aged care workers, as intended by the Fair Work Commission’s ruling.
“The aged care sector and its predominantly female workforce has been neglected for too long, and we will continue working with our federal and interstate counterparts until every aged care nurse sees an increase in their pay cheque.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers confirmed the investment was aimed at retaining aged care staff and attracting new employees to the sector.
Under the proposal, a RN on a level 2.3 award wage will receive an additional $196.08 a week (more than $10,000 a year), and an AiN on a level 3 award wage will receive an additional $136.68 a week (more than $7100 a year).
Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, when asked about whether there will be a legal obligation for all providers to pass on the increase, stated:
“The legal obligation comes with the award. It is the law to pay 15% above the award. Beyond that the people who are paid on things like the EBA, there is public pressure for the transparency of this information being provided…”
The NSWNMA will continue to call on the government to introduce more accountability measures to ensure providers pass on the funding in full.