The federal government has responded to one of the key recommendations of the Aged Care Workforce Taskforce with the establishment of a committee which will oversee qualifications and standards for workers.
The Aged Services Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will start work immediately to review and develop national competency standards, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt and skills and vocational education minister Michaelia Cash announced in a joint statement on Wednesday.
Ms Cash said the committee would ensure aged care staff not only had the right skills but were able to have rewarding and fulfilling careers.
“Bringing together an independent, industry-led body will work with the sector and the Australian community more broadly to drive meaningful responses to important workforce issues,” she said.
“The IRC will work right across the vocational education and training (VET) and higher education sectors to meet the challenges of an ageing society.”
The report of the workforce taskforce, A Matter of Care , released in September, included a number of recommendations including the establishment of an IRC to ensure appropriate skills for what it predicted would be a one million-strong aged care workforce by 2050.
Objectives of the Aged Services IRC
- Reform national training package qualifications and skill sets
- Consider new approaches to career structuring
- Look at opportunities for collaboration across VET, higher education and industry
The committee will include nominees from consumer groups, industry bodies, unions, the health sector, assistive technology and educational institutions.
It will also be supported by special advisory committees representing consumers, residential care, home care, indigenous and remote communities, CALD and LGBIT groups, dementia associations, palliative care associations, mental health groups and tertiary education.
The Australian Industry and Skills Committee is assessing nominations for the IRC and will announce the final structure and membership shortly.
People wishing to participate in an advisory committee can register here.
The announcement of the IRC follows a day of action by nurses and midwives who on Tuesday joined rallies across Australia to support the ACTU’s Change the Rules Campaign for higher wages for the country’s lowest-paid workers.
It also came as Mr Wyatt revealed senior Northern Territory health bureaucrat Janet Anderson would oversee the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
The commission will start compliance monitoring form January 1 next year with a budget of almost $300 million over four years and dozens of additional senior compliance officers.
The new body absorbs the roles of the current Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Australian Aged Care Quality and will incorporate the Department of Health’s aged care compliance responsibilities from next January.