The Victorian aged care sector has responded to a union campaign for wage increases by calling on the Commonwealth Government to provide greater certainty about future funding.

The state branch of the Australian Nursing Federation produced a claim last month for a 20 per cent wage rise over four years, along with minimum staffing ratios, for nurses and carers working in Victoria’s private and not-for-profit homes.

“If private sector aged care nurses continued to be the worst paid nurses in the country then we will continue to face a worsening shortage of registered nurses will to work in private aged care facilities at a time when these facilities actually need more nurses due to the changing profile of residents,” said the union’s assistant secretary, Yvonne Chaperon.

Aged and Community Care Victoria CEO, Gerard Mansour said the industry is well aware of the importance of competitive wages as a crucial part of recruitment and retention policies.

“Our industry highly values our staff and recognises the important job they do, in looking after aged care residents,’’ said Mr Mansour.

“But let’s be absolutely clear, the Rudd Government has not yet given any assurance to the industry that our annual top-up funding adjustments will continue in the future.”

Mr Mansour said the Conditional Adjustment Payment (CAP) was only guaranteed until June 2009 and there was still a real threat that it could be cut.

“We rely heavily on the government setting in place an effective mechanism to increase funding each year, to take into account cost and wage increases,” he said.

“This adds uncertainty about how our industry can consider the ANF log of claims, as the CAP review will not be finalised before October.”

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