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New scheme allows providers to employ foreign bilingual care workers


Aged care providers can hire overseas workers to support older Australians from multicultural backgrounds under a new initiative announced by the Federal Government.

The scheme has been welcomed by peak bodies representing culturally and linguistically diverse Australians and aged care providers, but they say it shouldn’t replace investment in the local workforce.

Under the initiative aged care providers can request a company specific labour agreement to sponsor skilled overseas workers for a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, or an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa.

The company-specific labour agreement allows aged care providers to access overseas workers not on the list of eligible skilled occupations.

The initiative was announced by Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman last week.

He said it would help providers find the right staff to deliver vital aged care services.

“Aged care providers have identified a need for bilingual carers, as elderly people or those with dementia may revert to their native language or lose the ability to speak a second language,” Mr Coleman said.

“Company specific labour agreements will enable aged care providers to deliver specialised services that better understand a residents’ cultural needs.”

Labour agreements will only be considered where it is demonstrated that Australians cannot fill skill shortages and standard work visa programs cannot be utilised, Mr Coleman said.

Stakeholder reaction

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) welcomed the government’s recognition of the importance of diversity in the aged care workforce, but said it should prioritise training local workers to meet the sector’s needs.

Mary Patetsos

FECCA chairperson Mary Patetsos said the aged care and disability sectors needed a competent and skilled workforce that matched the diversity of older Australians.

“This incudes sourcing people with language and cultural competency in our domestic workforce and if there remains a real gap in language skills, sourcing appropriately skilled people from overseas.

“However, we caution against taking the easy option of using a visa solution to address what is an Australian workforce issue,” Ms Patetsos said.

“FECCA strongly urges the federal government to focus on investing in training the local workforce to meet the demand from the aged care sector.”

Aged & Community Services Australia, the peak body for not-for-profit aged care providers, also welcomed the scheme and called for an additional focus on developing the local workforce.

Pat Sparrow

ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said she hoped the initiative would ensure there were aged care workers to support the diverse aged care recipients across Australia.

“This scheme offers the opportunity for aged care providers to respond to the specific needs of those they provide care and support for where they have been unable to identify and access these skills locally,” she said.

However, there should also be a focus on developing opportunities within the current workforce and to recruit and attract other local workers.

“Ensuring that we have the supply of workers to meet the growing demand for our services is critical and the implementation of the multiple strategies developed in the Aged Care Workforce Strategy, as well as initiatives like this, are crucial,” Ms Sparrow said.

Sean Rooney

The CEO of fellow provider peak Leading Age Services Australia, Sean Rooney said LASA also supported initiatives aimed at providing more support for older Australians from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds

“This includes the recommendation by the Aged Care Workforce Strategy report for the industry as a whole and individual organisations to develop strategies to retain workers who share cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds of older Australians they serve,” Mr Rooney said.

[T]he announcement of a new scheme to enable aged care providers to employ overseas workers with specialised skills is another welcome measure.”

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2 Responses to New scheme allows providers to employ foreign bilingual care workers

  1. Kerrie March 13, 2019 at 7:10 am #

    There is still a high proportion of Australian (of english descent) residents in nursing homes yet most of the workers appear to be Indian, Filipino, Chinese, African etc. How are these residents cultural needs being fulfilled.
    Most of the other residents in nursing homes are of European background who came to this country after the 2nd world war.
    Those who migrated to this country from Asia, India, Africa are not yet of an age where they are accessing nursing homes yet they comprise the majority of the workforce.
    Improve the pay and conditions and you will find more Australian and European workers will be attracted to this area of work.

  2. Deidre Walker September 22, 2019 at 10:26 am #

    I am a casual PCA , it’s been a year and I’m still not sure when I’m working I’m feeling very insecure about my job I work between 2 facility’s, I’m 53 and because I only have been in the industry for 1 year, I have asked for permanent but only to get told theirs none but they put on the new young staff and they get all the shifts or not preju but the over seas staff get all the shifts , I just want to fit in feel secure and feel I’m worthy in my care role for all Residents but all nurse and other staff that have been their longer get to choose and favour who they choose for their shifts I’m trying to get more shifts but feel I’m at a loss with getting any permanent work that’s offering more then 1 shift , what do I do I am hard working support and am always willing to help and am caring loyal, and very honest and feel I’m very passionate and worth being here but feel im Bri g treated unfairly

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