Nurses working in aged care are at the centre of the Australian Nursing Federation’s (ANF) International Nurses Day celebrations.

Earlier this year the union launched a two-year campaign to increase funding and accountability in the aged care sector.

The ANF estimates that nurses working in aged care receive up to $300 less each week than nurses employed in other sectors.

But Assistant Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the campaign has been highly successful with almost 10,000 people signing the union’s aged care charter.

“What this is doing is raising the profile of aged care, not only with our members and non-members within the sector but with the community at large,” she said.

“The feedback we are getting is that people are saying, ‘Thank goodness something is being done about aged care’.”

And with International Nurses Day falling on the same date as the Commonwealth budget, the ANF is keen to see change.

“I think we would like to see some the beginning of some significant health reform,” said Ms Thomas.

“For a long time we have lobbied for nurse practitioners to have access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme so that their patients can get the full assistance and we think that would be the beginning of some major health reform.”

Ms Thomas said the union would also like to see a continuation of the conditional adjustment payment (CAP) in aged care, along with greater accountability for nurse wages.

“Nurses really are the backbone of our health and aged care system,” she said.

“They are the people that are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week and let’s hope that tonight’s budget is the beginning of new era in healthcare for them.”

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