Minister promises $1.2b to address health workforce problems

AGED care workers will get a 1% pay rise next financial year, as part of national reforms to the health sector's workforce.

As part of a $3.2 billion reform of the aged care sector, Minister Mark Butler promised $1.2 billion to address workforce problems in the sector last year.

Since then, a workforce compact was created to improve conditions for aged care workers, to help attract more to fill a projected demand that will rise from 352,000 this year to 827,100 in 2050.

Mr Butler said the compact and a Workforce Supplement would allow for an extra 1% pay rise above minimum annual wage rises for workers employed by aged care providers that meet the compact.

The rises would also extended to enrolled nurses, with an extra 25%, and registered nurses in the aged care sector, with 29.9% higher pay in the same situation.

Those extra pay rises would be paid by the Commonwealth to the service providers, in a significant government subsidy of wages for those working in the sector.

While the Labor reform was welcomed by aged care union United Voice, service provider groups including the Aged and Community Services Australia would create "significant difficulties" for providers in regional areas.

"The redirection of $1.2 billion from aged care subsides into wage increases is another case of robbing Peter to pay Paul," said chief executive, Adjunct Professor John G Kelly.

"The government intended to increase wages for some of the nation's lowest paid workers but as we said during the consultation phase, while the Government is providing some funds, it is our provider members who will have to find the additional funds to be eligible."

Adj Prof Kelly said the capacity of smaller independent service providers in regional areas may not be able to deal with the extra regulatory burden.

"We shall continue to encourage the government to monitor this group and provide additional support to facilitate participation," he said."

Mr Butler said the reforms would also include the creation of a workforce development plan for the sector, with an expert advisory group to be established mid-2013.

Topics:  aged care federal government health mark butler

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