Tri-State highlights

A round up of news from day one and two from this week’s Tri-State Conference in Albury.

By Yasmin Noone. Photos by Ian Champ Photography. 

Here’s a taster of the highlights for those who didn’t make it to Albury for the 22nd annual Tri-State Conference this week.

  • Shadow Minister for Ageing, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
  • The (dead) Workforce Compact
  • CHA does not tolerate discrimination
  • NEW LASA CEO Patrick Reid debut
  • Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey

 

Above: Shadow Minister for Ageing, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Tri-State’s first official speaker – Shadow Minister for Ageing, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – was true to Opposition form, discussing failures in the federal government’s management of the aged care sector and recent aged care reform package.

The Senator stated how the government’s recent Living Longer. Living Better package of reforms are just “another example of spin over substance”.

The Senator – who was referred to as Australia’s next minister for ageing later in the conference – explained how the package contains very little new money. In fact, she said, the reform only implements “less than eight per cent” of the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians recommendations to government.

“In short, Labor has ignored the bulk of the PC report by cherry picking it,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

She added: the government has not made any real effort to reduce red tape; has cut back the Aged Care Funding Instrument to fund the $1.2 billion Workforce Compact (even though the government does not admit to that, she said); and is performing “smoke and mirrors” tactics to deliver superficial aged care reform measures.

The Senator questioned the Workforce Compact and why the government ruled that related-wage increases should be delivered in the form of enterprise bargaining agreements.

She said the move was a “back door way to get more workers to join the defunct Health Services Union”.

“This is a union-driven process dressed up as administrative change.”

When questioned by the conference MC, Julie McCrossin, panelist and CEO Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), NSW-ACT, Charles Wurf reluctantly, but honestly, told an audience of over 400 conference delegates that the Workforce Compact that the sector had been hoping for was dead in the water.

“The Workforce Compact is a failed piece of public policy, yet to be announced, as part of the reform agenda,” Mr Wurf said.

AAA has had this statement confirmed by several other industry sources – both before Mr Wurf’s public statement and after.

AAA has been told that the government is due to make an announcement on the compact very soon, although industry intelligence is unsure as to when.

Mr Wurf commented that Workforce Compact discussions were “stalled”, specifically around the wages issue.

Industry sources have also confirmed that the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group (SWAG) was unable to reach agreement on the issue that has traditionally kept sector trade unions and employer peak bodies on opposite sides of the industrial bargaining table: wages.

However, Mr Wurf – the industrial relations expert – added that he “was in favour of encouraging a conversation” between providers and employee representatives/trade unions on the topic of remuneration.

Mr Wurf inferred that the compact was good in theory and mentioned how the SWAG in charge of the Workforce Compact was able to engage in several constructive conversations about the future of the sector, changing employee skillsets, how the sector can leverage off residential care, changing job classifications and structures, and more.

CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA), Martin Laverty, pushed a panel question and answer session onto the topic of sexual and gender discrimination in aged care by stating quite forthrightly how prejudicial practices are not tolerated by his organisation.

He said regardless of the public perception of the Catholic Church and its stance on gay rights, discriminatory aged care practices – be they on the basis of ethnicity or gender – are not to be accepted. On merit, both are discriminatory and both are therefore wrong.

Above: Patrick Reid, CEO Leading Age Services Australia

The new CEO of Leading Age Services (LASA), Patrick Reid, made his first official industry-wide appearance, greeting conference delegates with news of a new LASA campaign.

With more news about the organisation’s new publicity project coming soon, all that is now known is that it will be called ‘3 million reasons’. It will aim to campaign for changes to the Aged Care Act and a more sustainable sector; target aged care workers and careers, and the government; and be launched just in time to bear influence on where aged care votes will be cast in the upcoming September 14 federal election.

Above: Flinders University Associate Professor Debra King

Results from the long-awaited National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey 2012 were also publicly released at the conference.

Associate Professor Debra King of the National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University, presented an overview of the 2012 findings and compared the residential and community sectors with each other and over time.

More details of the census and survey results will feature on AAA online over the coming days.

The 22nd Annual Tri-State Conference, themed Reform or Revolution, in Albury will wrap-up today.

The conference is a joint initiative between LASA Vic, LASA NSW-ACT and LASA SA.

Tags: aged-care-workforce-census-and-survey, charles-wurf, concetta-fierravanti-wells, lasa, patrick-reid, tri-state, tri-state-conference-albury, workforce-compact,

1 thought on “Tri-State highlights

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