Coalition suspends workforce supplement

The Coalition government has suspended applications for the former government’s $1.2 billion Aged Care Workforce Supplement as it moves to consult with providers over a policy alternative.


The Coalition government has suspended applications for the former government’s $1.2 billion Aged Care Workforce Supplement as it moves to consult with providers over a policy alternative.

In a joint statement released on Thursday night, the Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews and Assistant Minister Mitch Fifield said the department had been instructed to stop processing further applications for the supplementary pay rises.

In the move that will be welcomed by many aged care providers but anger unions, eligible providers for the supplement will have their funding honoured and applications already received by the department will be processed.

The government said it would consider transitional arrangements for the small number of providers already signed up to the supplement.

The ministers said the Workforce Supplement did not guarantee improved pay and conditions for all aged care workers and for many providers was conditional upon the signing of a “union-dictated EBA.”

The government said it was committed to developing a policy which would ensure available funding was distributed in a way that was “flexible, targeted and ensures the viability of aged care providers.”

During the election campaign, Liberal party leader Tony Abbott signalled he would scrap the Labor party’s aged care workforce agreement negotiated as part of the Living Longer, Living Better reform package.

The Workforce Supplement, which has been heavily criticised by industry peak bodies Aged and Community Services Australia, Leading Age Services Australia and Catholic Health Australia, started receiving applications from July 1.

The government did not detail what alternative options to the supplement were being explored with the sector.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty said on Friday the Workforce Supplement was flawed and that its abolition was in the equitable interests of all aged care staff.

Mr Laverty said last year’s negotiations to fully-fund pay increases to all staff could not be struck with unions and the wage rates had been set at unaffordable levels locking many providers out of the supplement.

“An Aged Care Financing Authority report released in July found 30 per cent of aged care providers failed to break even in the preceding year. If you can’t break even, you can’t cover the cost of unaffordable wage rates. Unions knew this, but they missed the opportunity to strike a more workable agreement,” he said.

Mr Laverty welcomed the new government’s intention to consult with aged care providers and said the proposed consultation should kick-start a new agenda on productivity gains in the aged care sector.

ACSA CEO Adj Prof John Kelly also welcomed the government’s decision and said making improved pay and conditions dependent on enterprise bargaining agreements was not the right design.

“Many workers in smaller facilities would have missed out on the pay rises,” he said.

Federal secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Lee Thomas said aged care nurses and carers had been cruelly abandoned by the new government.

“It’s plainly obvious the government has chosen to place the profits of providers over the interests of thousands of frontline nurses and care workers across the country,” Ms Thomas said on Friday.

She said since 2002 there has been a range of government funding initiatives directed at enhancing the capacity of aged care employers to offer competitive wages but none were tied to bargaining and had delivered real benefits for nurses or assistants in nursing.

“That’s why enterprising bargaining through the Workforce Compact was crucial in ensuring that additional funding for the sector actually reaches nurses and other aged care workers,” said Ms Thomas.

Australian Ageing Agenda will provide ongoing coverage as more details emerge and other stakeholders react.



Tags: coalition-government, kevin-andrews, mitch-fifield, unions, workforce, workforce-supplement,

2 thoughts on “Coalition suspends workforce supplement

  1. I believed this proposal was detrimental to state funded facilities.My facility was one that would miss out, being a small council run facility making us ineligible.
    The new federal government needs to review salaries & wages. Wages are low, especially if working under the Charitable, Aged & Disability state award.
    This workforce work extremely hard looking after all levels of frail aged in facilities all over Australia. Frail / aged care requirements are equal to or more than childcare. With the baby boomers in the near future requiring care something drastic is needed to ensure this workforce is at an adequate level to look after them. Adequate enumerations attached to work requirements of these workers in aged care / childcare needs to improve dramatically and be set at realistic and reasonable levels, not cheap labor. Otherwise there will be a void in attracting appropriate effective passionate and dedicated workers into the system. A clear work pathways need to be encouraged and expanded upon from Cert 111 up to managers ect. (A society is only as good as the care it provides to the most vulnerable in their society: Elderly and children.
    Parliamentarians need to talk to Providers, Managers of facilities, care workers as well as agencies and experts.

  2. The answer is simple. Pay better wages to the people who work in one of the hardest and challenging work services. train and hold the competency that reflects the pay.
    NOT that hard.

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