Labor rounds on government over workforce

The opposition has accused the Federal Government of outsourcing its leadership role in assisting the aged care sector to meet its workforce requirements and abandoning a commitment to develop an aged care workforce strategy.

The opposition has accused the Federal Government of outsourcing its leadership role in assisting the aged care sector to meet its workforce requirements and abandoning a commitment to develop an aged care workforce strategy.

The Federal Government this week confirmed its position that aged care providers were ultimately responsible for meeting the sector’s workforce challenges and industry would take the lead in developing a workforce development plan.

As Community Care Review reported yesterday, Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday night that while government was committed to working with industry, providers were “ultimately responsible for workforce.”

“The government can’t be responsible for every part of workforce across the aged care sector and neither should we be,” she said.

“The providers are responsible and they understand that.”

The former minister responsible for aged care, Senator Mitch Fifield had commissioned an audit of government-funded aged care workforce programs in 2014 with the stated aim of developing a national aged care workforce development strategy.

That stocktake, which was released in December, referred to the need for a nationally coordinated strategy and capability framework.

Shortly after releasing the stocktake, Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley announced the merging of the Health Workforce Fund and the Aged Care Workforce Development Fund, to deliver savings of $595 million.

Following Wednesday night’s hearing, Labor criticised the government’s position.

Senator Helen Polley said the former minister had promised the government would take the lead in developing a strategy following the audit.

Aged care workforce development was one of the biggest challenges currently facing the sector and was not an optional policy area for the government, said Senator Polley, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care.

The government had a responsibility to produce a plan that would ensure the demands of Australia’s ageing population were met by an adequately skilled and equipped workforce, she said.

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Tags: helen polley, labor, mitch-fifield, Sussan Ley, workforce strategy,

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