Union protests for greater federal aged care support

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Australian Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese joined in on protests for greater aged care support at Federation Mall. Photo: Nathan Schmidt.

THE Health Services Union and dozens of aged care workers marched on Parliament House today (May 10) calling on the federal government to allocate more money to the aged care sector ahead of the 2021-22 Federal Budget. 

Due to be passed down tomorrow (May 11), the budget is expected to allocate $10 billion over a four year period to the embattled industry, according to the union.

Its president, Gerard Hayes, said that amount is inadequate.

Instead, the union has suggested that at least $20 billion – twice the expected budgetary allocation – is needed, according to their modelling.

That amount would fund pay rises, facilitate an additional 59,000 aged care jobs and allow close to an additional 90 minutes each day for residential care.

“The Commonwealth has a historic opportunity to get this right and give older Australians the care they deserve while properly looking after the workforce,” Mr Hayes said. 

“I sincerely hope they rise to the occasion and don’t shortchange aged care yet again.

“The overwhelming majority of workers in aged care are women who are casual, underpaid and underemployed. Many of them string together multiple strands of work to cobble together an income.

“We can not keep exploiting these workers and relying on their goodwill and generosity.”

Mr Hayes said funding also needs to be sustainable, transparent and guaranteed.

“This crisis has been brewing for years,” he said. 

“It’s time to bring it to a head with funding that meets the needs of the elderly and the workforce.”

First announced in 2018 and handed down in March 2021, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found the current system to be out-dated and inefficient.

It highlighted the need for better governance, a more rights-based system and an improvement to capacity and capability among the workforce.

It also included what people in in-home care need. The Grattan Institute has suggested as much as $28 billion is needed in the budget to meet their needs.

Australian Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese joined in on protests, and buoyed by supportive chants by the crowd, Mr Albanese said no real reform would come in tomorrow’s budget.

Meanwhile, union speakers agitated for a political challenge at the upcoming federal election. They urged for members to challenge minority seats.

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