State Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery, says the local Liberal Members’ response in Parliament yesterday to her call for pay equality for disability nurses is insulting not only to nurses, but to the people they care for and every community in the state that wants the best care for their most vulnerable residents.
Ms Hornery called on the Minister for Disability and Ageing to commit to providing pay parity for disability sector nurses with their public counterparts. An amendment was put by Member for Newcastle Tim Owen and Member for Charlestown Andrew Cornwell spoke in support of the amendment.
The Government used its majority in the Parliament to pass the amendment.
Speaking on behalf of disability nurses in the state, particularly in her electorate of Wallsend and the Hunter region, Ms Hornery said these crucial workers were being paid, on average, 8 to 12 percent less than nurses in other sectors. The pay inequality was exacerbating the alarming vacancy rate of disability nurses at facilities such as the Stockton Centre, which currently has 50 positions to fill.
“The response by the Members for Newcastle and Charlestown showed they were more interested in playing the blame game - and insulting so many people on so many levels – than actually acknowledging that the Government is facing a crisis in disability sector staffing and care,” she said.
Ms Hornery added that disability care was clearly not a priority for the Liberals, with 19 members of that party absent from the vote.
“The Member for Charlestown told Parliament that he understood the issues facing the nurses at the Stockton Centre because he had visited there when he was ‘a scout’. His comment was insulting and in no way qualifies him to say that he has an insight into the challenges that face these nurses every day in providing specialised care to the residents.”
Ms Hornery said it was also imperative to create a strong workforce to be the backbone of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“There’s one sure way of NOT getting a disability workforce in place, and that’s refusing to pay fairly,” Ms Hornery said.
“The national disability sector workforce will need to increase from about 110,000 to about 220,000 over the next five to six years. Who makes up the bulk of this workforce? Our nurses.
“But we are not going to be able to recruit more nurses to this sector with the current substandard and unfair pay conditions.”
“People with disabilities deserve the same care as the rest of the community and they deserve the same numbers of qualified nurses caring for them as the rest of the community. This can only happen if Ageing Disability and Home Care nurses are given pay parity with the public sector.”
Sonia Hornery MP
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