Leading Age Services Australia has called for a regulatory body such as the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to assess the qualifications of migrant personal care workers to ensure they align with Australian standards, and to ensure that they meet a level of English proficiency.
In a submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Australia’s intake of migrant workers, LASA said that “for individuals [who] have obtained a qualification overseas that is not considered equivalent to the Australian requirements, an appropriate bridging curriculum should be considered to assist people to transition into the aged care workforce.”
However, LASA’s submission to the PC also called for the introduction of a “national set of professional standards for aged care workers” to be supported and administered through the national agency.
Currently, AHPRA oversees the national accreditation and registration for 14 registered health professionals. The national boards of each profession, such as nurses and doctors, set the standards that practitioners must meet in order to register.
As a registered profession, migrant nurses are currently required to have their overseas qualifications recognised by AHPRA in order to obtain professional registration in Australia. However, migrant care workers are currently not covered by AHPRA, as personal care workers are not a registered profession.
Asked by Australian Ageing Agenda to confirm if the provider peak was proposing mandatory registration of personal care workers, LASA’s CEO Patrick Reid said that a significant proportion of skilled roles within the aged care workforce fall outside of AHPRA regulation.
“When it comes to recruiting people who have migrated to Australia with qualifications from another country, the absence of a national agency that assesses such qualifications against the equivalent standard here makes it difficult for employers,” he said.
“The introduction of a set of national professional standards for aged care workers that is administered through a single agency would remedy this. Focusing on which courses are taught by which institutions to an acceptable minimum standard removes the need for individual registration.
“LASA continues to advocate for less red tape and supportive policies that help to increase the aged care workforce, but the provision of consistent, high quality care must remain core. Individual registration would not necessarily achieve any of these outcomes,” said Mr Reid.
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