Migrant intake could rob countries of care workforce

Recruiting aged care workers from overseas potentially introduces ethical dilemmas, the Internaitonal Dementia Conference hears.

Recruiting aged care workers from overseas – particularly from developing countries – potentially introduces ethical dilemmas, peak body chiefs have told the International Dementia Conference. 

Pat Garcia

“From a mission-based organisation we are always nervous about the potential impact on countries where we’re recruiting our carers,” said Catholic Health Australia chief executive officer Pat Garcia.

Last Friday’s panel discussion – Drawing a new map to navigate our workforce landscape – followed an announcement at the Jobs and Skills Summit of a migration intake increase to help bolster staff numbers in priority sectors, including aged care.

A boost in migrant numbers was at the top of the list on CHA’s five-point plan announced ahead of the jobs summit at Parliament House, Canberra on 1-2 September.

While welcoming the rise of migration numbers last week – saying “With a shortfall of tens of thousands of workers across hospitals and aged care facilities the increased migrant intake to Australia will help” – Mr Garcia told delegates on day two of IDC 2022 in Sydney that CHA was mindful of the ethical concerns of depleting the workforce of other countries.

“We get that sometimes those countries are developing countries and sometimes those countries have their own shortages as well and how that fits with our own mission where we’re taking carers away from people who need care, sometimes even more vulnerable than the people we’re caring for,” said Mr Garcia.

There needs to be a long-term focus on building universal capability, “training carers throughout the world,” said Mr Garcia.

While observing it is a global market, where there exits “imports and exports of carers,” Mr Garcia told delegates: “Ours shouldn’t just be a focus on building carers here. Building capabilities, assisting developing countries in the development of their care workforce has to be something that we need to be cognisant of.”

“It can’t just be take, take, take.”

Paul Sadler
Paul Sadler

However, as fellow panellist interim CEO of the Aged & Community Care Providers Association Paul Sadler noted, often overseas countries are keen for their workers to migrate to a relatively wealthy country.

“Even though our wages in aged care might be under the competitors within Australia, they are often much better than the wages those same people would attract in their own countries. So they’re able to return money to their families and the economies of their home countries,” said Mr Sadler.

Nonetheless, Mr Sadler agreed that “the ethical issues have to be part of our consideration – it can’t just be take, take, take.” 

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on LinkedInX (Twitter) and Facebook, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to our premium content or AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: ACCPA, catholic health australia, jobs summit, migration, Pat Garcia, paul sadler, workforce shortage,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *