The first workers from Papua New Guinea drafted to help boost staff numbers in Australian aged care homes have arrived in Queensland.
Employed by Southern Cross Care Queensland under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, the nine women will be based in facilities in Chinchilla, Murgon and Taroom.
It’s the first time workers from PNG have been placed in Australian aged care facilities under the PALM scheme.
SCCQ CEO Jason Eldering said he was delighted to welcome the new intake of workers.
“We are grateful to have skilled, professional staff from PNG to provide safe, quality care in areas where we have been experiencing workforce shortages,” said Mr Eldering.
“The arrival of these workers will be enormously beneficial, and they will be warmly welcomed by our residents, families and loved ones, staff and within the communities where they will live.”
He added: “We will ensure that our new arrivals feel valued for the important contribution they make by bringing their skills, vibrancy and diversity to our homes.”
More than 600 PALM scheme workers are currently working within the residential aged care sector to help bolster the workforce ahead of the mandatory introduction of 24/7 registered nurses from 1 July and 200 care minutes from 1 October.
“Pacific and Timorese workers have earned a positive reputation in the aged care sector, and now we welcome the first workers from Papua New Guinea,” said Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells. “Their strong passion for caring will only enhance the wellbeing of older Australians.”
The Albanese Government is supporting an additional 500 PALM scheme workers to attain formal aged care qualifications while working in Australia, with placements to start this month.
As well, in the 2023-24 budget, the government announced improvements to the PALM scheme, including:
- increasing support to make it easier for PALM scheme workers to access their superannuation savings when they return home
- providing access to Medicare for an initial 200 families who will participate in the PALM scheme family accompaniment pilot.
Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy said he hoped to see more Papuans come to the country under the PALM program.
“I hope this paves the way for more PNG aged care workers to come to Australia, sending home remittances to their families, helping Australian regional communities facing labour shortages and bringing our people closer together.”
Main image: SCCQ CEO Jason Eldering (far left) with the nine PNG workers