Overseas workers bolster staff shortfalls in the regions

Immigration is the only practical solution to fixing the aged care workforce crisis, says expert.

Healthcare professionals from the Philippines are helping to plug workforce gaps in regional and remote areas of Australia.

In all, almost 500 Filipino nationals are working in 25 towns across the country including Gilgandra, located in the Great Western Plains region of New South Wales.

Facing recruitment obstacles, the council-run aged care facility was spending around $300,000 a year on agency staff. But with the arrival of the Filipino workforce – keen to upskill their qualifications – the aged care home has been able to bolster the staff shortfall.

Donna Dobson

“The initiative has been incredibly successful,” said Donna Dobson – director aged care and disability for Gilgandra Shire Council, “and we are excited to announce plans to employ an additional 10 international workers.”

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia says the aged care sector will be short 110,000 workers within a decade if action is not taken to address workforce challenges.

Dan Sandiford

Dan Sandiford – chief executive officer of recruitment specialists Groworx Global – said immigration is the only sustainable practical solution to fixing Australia’s aged care workforce crisis.

“In Germany and Japan aged care is in the press a lot as the population there is much older than in Australia. Australia’s problem is that we are lagging the rest of the world in sustainable immigration policy to solve the looming workforce crisis.”

He added: “There’s a huge problem in all these rich countries with shrinking workforces. This has led to the aged care dependency ratios reaching critical levels.”

Tom Symondson

Acknowledging that migration is a vital part of the workforce supply for aged care, CEO of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association Tom Symondson said it is just one part of the puzzle. “A multi-pronged approach is needed including education, skills, training and incentives such as housing to attract and retain aged care workers.”

The Gilgandra community warmly welcomed the Filipino workers on their arrival and rallied together to organise housing for the group.

Groworx Global now works almost exclusively in partnership with NSW and Queensland aged care providers to train offshore Filipino workers for critical roles in nursing, aged care and allied health in regional towns around Australia.

“The positive flow-on effects for these communities is phenomenal,” said Mr Sandiford. “The workers are highly motivated and they want to build new lives in Australia, which translates into drastically improved worker retention quality and return on investment.”

In a 2021 report, CEDA estimated that overseas workers made up about 30 per cent of Australia’s aged care workforce. “While we can’t rely on overseas workers alone, we know that hey will continue to make up a significant part of the workforce,” Mr Symondson said.   

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Tags: ACCPA, dan sandiford, filipino, overseas-workers, Tom Symondson, workforce,

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