Aged care providers can now sponsor direct care workers on skilled visas, the government has announced.
In an effort to boost the aged care workforce, the Albanese Government has created a new Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement to promote increased recruitment and retention of staff.
“Older people in Australia need a skilled, diverse and valued workforce so that they can receive safe, high-quality care,” said Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells in a statement. “The new labour agreement will benefit aged care providers and the workforce by streamlining the employment and visa process for overseas workers.”
Providers can use the agreement to sponsor overseas workers for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa in direct care occupations such as:
- nursing support worker
- personal care assistant
- aged or disabled carer.
Access to the agreement will be provided to aged care operators who have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant industry union:
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
- Health Services Union
- United Workers Union.
Negotiated directly between unions and employers, the agreement contains added incentives for providers to attract overseas workers to the aged care sector – including an expedited two-year pathway to permanent residency.
Aged care providers can apply for the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement immediately. The applications – along with the associated visa applications – will be fast-tracked by the Department of Home Affairs as a matter of priority.
“This is a new approach, founded in a tripartite process,” said Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles. “Australia can both address workforce shortages for crucial jobs in our society while also protecting workers and promoting good jobs.”
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Ray Scott – aged care lead partner at consultancy firm RSM Australia – applauded the move.
“To streamline the immigration bottlenecks will certainly be welcomed by many of our clients within the sector as it will promote increased recruitment and retention in the aged care workforce,” said Mr Scott.
“We would expect these changes to offer significant relief to providers to help support existing workers and to make attracting new employees increasingly viable,” he added.
It’s hoped that simplifying the visa process will help providers meet the mandatory increase of care minutes, which come into effect on 1 October 2023.