SA aged care condemns new public holiday deal

SA aged care providers are bitterly disappointed with a State Government deal which declares two new ‘part’ public holidays for South Australia – the first of their kind in Australia.

Above:  “Bitterly disappointed” – Alan Graham, CEO, Aged & Community Services SA & NT

The declaration of two new ‘part’ public holidays for South Australia has incurred the wrath of aged care providers in the State who will be forced, alongside retailers, the restaurant and hospitality industry, nurses, police and others, to pay new penalty rates to staff working between seven pm and midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The two new part-day public holidays are the first of their kind in Australia and were part of deal struck by the South Australian State Government, Business SA and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association to allow trading on public holidays.

While employees who are required to work up to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve will reap the financial benefits, the CEO of Aged and Community Services SA & NT (ACS), Alan Graham, has condemned the deal saying the aged care sector will incur substantial costs that it will struggle to meet.

He said ACS was bitterly disappointed that a discussion that began about retailing hours in South Australia has now spilt over to a whole series of other sectors, resulting in the deal announced yesterday

“There is a lot of concern around what was being proposed and this matter warranted greater scrutiny in the Parliament,” said Mr Graham.

“Ill conceived responses of this type always have unintended consequences and, as far as the aged care sector is concerned, this deal will impose a very significant financial burden on a sector which is already struggling to make ends meet.

“Based on the information provided to us by members, the financial impact of the deal will range from hundreds of dollars to about $100,000 for many of our larger members,” Mr Graham said. 

“Unlike other sectors, aged care has no way of offsetting any of the additional cost by imposing, for example, a surcharge on customers for services provided on Christmas or New Years Eve, nor is it able to close its doors.”

Mr Graham expressed his concern that there was no consideration being given to assisting aged care service providers, while assistance was being offered to some other groups.

“We support the announcement by the government that it will cover the extra costs that will be incurred by non-government entities providing services to disabled persons – this is a good outcome. But what about the older people in our community? Doesn’t their wellbeing also warrant similar acknowledgement and consideration?

“As a consequence of this deal, individual aged care providers will now have to look at the services that they provide to develop appropriate remedies to minimise the impact on service delivery. But there are no guarantees that there won’t be some lessening of the service delivery, given the implications,” Mr Graham said.

Mr Graham said it was somewhat ironic that the announcement comes at a time when the sector in South Australia is involved in negotiations with the union, United Voice, around a low paid bargaining matter, saying outcomes from this will benefit all personal care workers in the sector.

He said ACS will now be writing to Premier Weatherill, seeking his support in lobbying the federal government to provide the necessary extra revenue to cover the costs that will be incurred by aged care providers in SA.

Mr Graham told the ABC: “We obviously can’t close our doors and we’ll have to go cap in hand to see whether the Federal Government’s able to provide some sort of compensation.”

Tags: acs-sa-nt, alan-graham, penalty-rates, public-holidays, sa-government,

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