Aged Care

Aged care workforce reforms crucial for long-term sustainability

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An analysis by the Australia Institute suggests that while recent aged care reforms aim to enhance safety and quality, they fall short in recognising workers’ skills and ensuring optimal care for elderly Australians.

According to the Centre for Future Work, mandates such as screening requirements and a code of conduct, set to take effect in July, are insufficient to address the complexities of aged care provision.

Key points highlighted in the report titled “Professionalising the Aged Care Workforce” advocates for sector-wide professional registration and minimum qualifications, with a focus on achieving at least a Certificate III for all aged care workers.

The analysis suggests that:

  • Mandating minimum training requirements, particularly to Certificate III level, would lead to improved care quality and safety.
  • The majority of personal care workers already possess Certificate III or higher qualifications.
  • Enhancing workforce qualifications would not only benefit elderly Australians but also contribute to better career pathways for workers.
  • Recognising and addressing the undervaluation of care work, predominantly carried out by women, is essential for both workers and care recipients.

Dr Fiona Macdonald, Policy Director at The Centre for Future Work, emphasised the need for long-term sustainability in the aged care workforce. She stressed that setting a minimum education standard would elevate care quality and acknowledge the critical skills required in caring for vulnerable individuals.

While acknowledging the government’s efforts to screen out unsuitable workers, Dr Macdonald highlighted the lack of systematic recognition of workers’ skills and insufficient provisions for professional development and career advancement in the industry.

The report aligns with recommendations from the 2021 Aged Care Royal Commission, emphasising the urgency of implementing reforms to address workforce standards and improve the overall quality of aged care services.

“It’s beyond time to deliver them,” Dr Macdonald said.

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