The Association represents more than 10,400 workers employed in the residential aged care sector.
It is this collective strength that enables your union to fight for better pay and conditions for aged care workers. Together with members, we have secured some massive wins for the sector through persistent campaigning for better pay and conditions.
Delivering sorely needed pay increases
In recognition of the long-term challenges facing aged care workers, the Association has run a sustained campaign to reform aged care. We’re already seeing some of this work paying off.
In partnership with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), we’ve successfully lobbied the federal government to overhaul the sector, through both improvements to worker pay, and safer staffing measures across aged care settings.
In 2022, the ANMF and other unions submitted a landmark application to the Fair Work Commission Aged Care Work Value Case. It called for a significant boost to the pay of aged care workers, and a 15% interim pay increase was awarded in November of that year. This finally recognised the long undervaluation of employees in the aged care sector.
As part of the Annual Wage Review, the National Minimum Wage increased minimum award rates by 5.75% on 2 June, 2023. This increase was in addition to the 15% interim increase, which amounted to a significant lift for some of our lowest-paid workers in the aged care sector, boosting some rates of pay up by 20%.
The Association formed a partnership with the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) and the United Workers Union (UWU) to ensure employers are doing the right thing by workers. Employers have been legally obliged to comply with the new minimum award rates from the first full pay period on or after the 30 June 2023 under the Fair Work Act, meaning they must pass on every cent of the pay rise. Unions are committed to holding them to account.
To help strengthen these accountability efforts, the Association spends time in workplaces, meeting members and prospective members, hearing their concerns and uncovering local issues. Workers cannot simply rely on bosses to do the right thing, that’s why your union is here to support you.
These minimum ratios will be enforceable under the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award.
The NSWNMA remains resolute to continue campaigning until every specialty area requiring ratios gets them.
The Association has long advocated for the interests of both members and the residents in their care. We understand nurses need greater support, and it starts with reforming the rules that govern this sector. Thanks to the sustained efforts of unions, in October 2022, federal parliament passed new aged care laws to increase the amount of direct-care that residents receive: 200 minutes including 40 from RNs – from 1 October 2023, and 215 minutes – including 44 from RNs – from 1 October 2024.
This measure, alongside the commitment to have a registered nurse onsite 24/7 from 1 July 2023, amounts to a $2.5 billion investment in aged care reform over four years.
The Association is working with other unions to ensure the government monitors and enforces these new requirements.
The Association, alongside the ANMF, UWU and others, has worked with the government to establish a unique Labour Agreement that helps address worker shortfalls. This includes special access rights to foreign workers who have been brought in to fill staff shortages, enabling an accelerated pathway to permanent residency. A Memorandum of Understanding introduces expanded labour market testing, meaning employers must offer local staff the maximum 76 hours of work per fortnight, before using overseas workers.
It also requires local workers to identify their desire for increased hours. The changes also ensure employers offer staff predictable rostering with set hours, decent wages and good working conditions.
These are big steps forward in meeting the shortfall of workers in aged care, and also ensure local workers currently deployed across the sector are given the best opportunity to develop a work schedule that suits their availability.
These improvements have been secured together and are because of the persistence of members over many years. There is still more work to do to continue improving outcomes for aged care workers. Together as a union, we are stronger. United, we can secure the changes needed to safeguard the aged care sector.