Nurses launch nationwide aged care campaign

The ANF wants more funding and more nurses in aged care and its taking its case to politicians right across the country.

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has launched a national campaign to increase Commonwealth funding for aged care along with the ratio of nurses in the sector.

The union is calling on all stakeholders, including aged care providers and employees, to join the cause.

The ambitious ‘Because we care’ campaign is aimed at all federal MPs, senators and ministers with a particular focus on the Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot.

Visitors to the ANF’s campaign website are being encouraged to send emails to Mrs Elliot and to sign a charter for ‘Quality Aged Care’.

“We don’t think our objectives are too far removed from what aged care providers would be looking for from the government,” the ANF’s federal secretary told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“We are looking for funding from the federal government to close the wages gap,” she said.

“We estimate that on average aged care nurses earn $300 less than nurses in other sectors and I know most providers are committed to paying their staff more as well.

“Aged care is not going to be able to compete with the rest of the health sector if it can’t pay decent wages.”

Ms Kearney did however concede that the federation’s proposed national licencing system for personal carers would not be well received by all provider organisations.

Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA) CEO Rod Young said more government funding is crucial if the number of nurses in aged care is going to increase.

“We and [the ANF] both recognise that there is nothing we can do unless the government is prepared to free up the funding system,” he said.

“If the government is going to impose ratios on us, there is no way we could cope unless they provided resources for training the staff, directed them into the industry and then paid for those staff to be engaged.”

And while this year’s budget is a major focus of the campaign, Ms Kearney said the ANF will be lobbying on aged care issues for some time to come.

“We are committed to this for the long term,” she said. “We will certainly keep it up for the next two years and into the next federal election.

“We are realists. We understand that we are not going to get everything we want in this budget.

“We are asking for a lot of money but aged care is so important that we can’t ignore the need to invest in the sector.”

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