The aged care workforce will be the subject of a federal parliamentary review with Greens Senator Rachel Siewert yesterday securing support for a Senate inquiry into the future of the sector’s workforce.
The inquiry, to be conducted by the Community Affairs References Committee, will examine the current composition of the aged care workforce, future workforce requirements, the interaction of aged care workforce needs with the disability sector, and challenges in attracting and retaining aged care staff.
Last month, a NSW parliamentary inquiry into nursing staff levels in residential care called for staff-to-resident ratios and licensing of personal care workers.
The news of the federal Senate inquiry comes as frustrations in the sector grow over the delayed release of a government audit of workforce programs in aged care. As Australian Ageing Agenda reports today, this delay has stalled the development of a sector workforce strategy, much to the annoyance of providers, unions and professional groups.
Speaking yesterday after securing support for the Senate inquiry, Senator Siewert said that aged care providers had repeatedly told her the future of the sector’s workforce faced significant challenges.
“Already we know that the sector is struggling to attract and retain aged care workers, with particular challenges in regional towns and remote communities.
“It is time for this nationwide inquiry so that we can best assess impacts of sector growth, changes in how care is delivered and increasing competition for workers,” Senator Siewert said.
It was important to look at how governments at all levels can strategically approach the aged care sector so that it grows alongside an ageing population, she said.
The terms of reference for the inquiry, which is due to report by 30 June 2016, include an examination of:
- remuneration, working environment, staffing ratios, education and training, skills development and career paths
- the role and regulation of registered training organisations including work placements, and the quality and consistency of qualifications
- government policies at the state and federal level which impact on the workforce
- the role of government in providing a coordinated strategic approach for the sector
- challenges of creating a culturally competent and inclusive aged care workforce to cater for the different care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse groups and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people.
Related AAA coverage: Frustrations rise over workforce
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