O’Farrell pay freeze causes disability nurses to leave in droves

The critical shortage of disability nurses at the Stockton Residential Centre in Newcastle has highlighted the real impact of the O’Farrell Government’s public sector wage freeze, the NSW Labor Opposition said on Friday (January 25).

It has been reported that 40 percent of the Centre’s disability nurse positions remain vacant – with the huge roster gaps placing enormous strain on the remaining staff and residents

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle said the widening pay gap between disability nurses working for the Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC) and nurses working in public hospitals means that disability nurses are leaving the profession in droves.

“Under the previous Labor Government, there was pay parity between disability nurses and registered nurses – but under the O’Farrell Government the gap has widened by up to 12 percent with no recourse for achieving parity,” Mr Searle said.

“Not only this, the O’Farrell Government is applying to take away conditions such as leave loading and family leave from disability nurses which will make their working lives of work even more difficult.”

Shadow Minister for Disability Barbara Perry said that while attracting workers was an issue across the disability sector, it was particularly critical when it came to the recruitment and retention of disability nurses.

“Disability nurses perform a critical role in the lives of people with disabilities – especially those with complex medical needs. It is vital that we recognise the amazing job they do by paying them what they deserve,” Ms Perry said. “Not only this, some of our most vulnerable citizens are not getting the support they need because of staff shortages.

“This issue is much bigger than shortages we are seeing at Stockton where only 69 of 121 disability nurse positions are filled.

“The O’Farrell Government needs to wake up to itself and fix the workforce planning issues that are a direct result of its industrial relations policies.

“For the sake of those workers who need recognition for the work they do, and for the sake of some of our most vulnerable citizens, we cannot afford to let this situation continue.”

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