‘Safe staffing and better pay’: Major changes to rebuild aged care sector begin

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) applauds two significant achievements to rebuild the aged care sector, which will come into effect tomorrow. Legislation to implement Registered Nurse (RN) 24/7 comes into operation, and historic wage increases following the Aged Care Work Value decision, will start to flow through to nurses and carers in the sector. 

These critical measures will go a long way in rebuilding the aged care sector and will help deliver improved care outcomes for elderly residents living in nursing homes.

As the country’s largest union, the ANMF and its members have long campaigned for better, safe staffing levels in aged care, in line with the key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

ANMF A/Federal Secretary Lori-Anne Sharp said the legislated requirements for a RN to be rostered in a nursing home 24/7, along with $11.3 billion in Federal Government funding for pay increases for nurses and carers, provides hope that meaningful and long-awaited change is beginning.

“This is a day where we can pause for a moment to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of ANMF members in the fight over decades for safe staffing and better pay. We hope that aged care nurses and carers will have a little more spring in their step as they see these results roll out,” Ms Sharp said today.

“Historically, persistently low wages, chronic, dangerous understaffing and other poor working conditions have resulted in an exodus of qualified nurses and aged care workers, making it extremely difficult to attract qualified staff to the sector.

“This is the first time in over 20 years that a Government has shown that it truly values aged care nurses and care workers and, in doing so, the people they care for.

“The Government has assured the ANMF that it is funding a pay increase for all eligible workers in aged care, to recognise the incredibly important work nurses and care workers do each and every day, caring for older people across the country.

“The ANMF has worked and will continue to work with the Government to develop clear guidelines for the process of passing on the funding in full as wage increases. We will also continue to work with the Government on accountability and transparency for the taxpayer funding dedicated to wage increases to ensure it is used solely for its intended purpose – long overdue and very well-deserved wage increases for aged care workers.

“The ANMF commends the Federal Government for their commitment to fixing aged care thus far. We acknowledge there is much more to be done; however, this is a critical first step in acknowledging the true worth of aged care workers, who have been undervalued for their complex work. These reforms will help retain and recruit nurses and carers to the sector and ultimately ensure that older Australians get the quality care they deserve. The rebuilding of the aged care sector is just beginning.”

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