Aged & Community Services Australia will play a key role in shaping the future aged care sector workforce strategy through the appointment of CEO Pat Sparrow to the new aged care workforce taskforce.

The 12-member taskforce was announced last week and has been charged with developing a strategy to boost the supply of aged care workers in a sector facing a critical shortage of staff between now and 2050.

“Together we have the opportunity to apply the very best thinking in the sector to solve critical issues around workforce supply, demand and productivity to get this right for the future care needs of older Australians,” Ms Sparrow said.

“Getting this right now means securing the sort of workforce the sector needs into the future with the right mix of skills in those areas of most need.”

“As we work through the issues, I’ll be representing providers’ views as we develop a workforce strategy that reflects a strong shared understanding of the workforce needs of the future and who is responsible for meeting them.”

In announcing the taskforce, the Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM said the number of aged care workers needs to increase drastically from 360,000 where it currently stands to around one million by 2050.

“Everything is on the table but there are only two things that matter, safety and quality,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The Taskforce will reach out to senior Australians and their families, consumer organisations, informal carers, aged care workers and volunteers.”

“It will also consult with many others including unions, health professionals, universities and the health, education, employment and disability sectors.”

“The Taskforce will explore short, medium and longer term options to boost supply, address demand and improve productivity for the aged care workforce,” said Minister Wyatt.

“Under Professor Pollaers’ leadership, the role of the Taskforce will be to consider new thinking and to encourage the incredible opportunities working in aged care,” the Minister said.

The taskforce comprises people with a broad range of experience, both within and outside the aged care sector, however it does not include industry representatives for nurses or carers.

ANMF Assistant Federal Secretary Annie Butler labelled the decision to exclude workforce representatives from the taskforce announced today as a major insult for hard-working nurses and carers in the aged care sector.

“It’s inconceivable that the Government has set-up a taskforce to investigate workforce issues and plan a future workforce strategy without nurses and carers,” Ms Butler said today.

“A wide range of stakeholders, from providers, consumer and interest groups, through to academics, have been invited to sit on the taskforce, but the ANMF or other representatives of the aged care workforce have been ignored.”

“Nurses and carers working on the frontline in aged care are best placed to advise on what is required to ensure proper, safe care is provided to elderly nursing home residents.”

“They are the ones that fully understand the complex conditions of the frail aged, the skills that are required to attend to these conditions and how many staff that takes.”

“However, as always, the ANMF will work constructively with any of our aged stakeholders as part of our commitment to fix the crisis in aged care – for the sake of elderly nursing home residents and their families,” Ms Butler said.

The Taskforce will oversee and sponsor a combination of working summits, public submission processes, technical and specialist groups to inform its work.

It is scheduled to report to the Minister by 30 June 2018.

Taskforce membership:

Chair – Professor John POLLAERS
Dr Michele BRUNIGES – Secretary, Department of Education and Training, Australian Government
Dr Penny FLETT – Pro Vice Chancellor University of Western Australia
Dr Stephen JUDD – CEO Hammondcare
Professor Linda KRISTJANSON – Vice-Chancellor Swinburne University
Alan LILLY – Chief Executive, Blue Cross
Professor Andrew ROBINSON – Co-Director of Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, Tasmania, and Director Dementia Training Australia
Catherine RULE – Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Health, Australian Government
Tim SHACKLETON – Chief Executive Officer, Rural Health West
Pat SPARROW – Chief Executive Officer, Aged & Community Services Australia
Dr Adrian TURNER – CEO, Data61, CSIRO
Ian YATES – Chief Executive, Council on the Ageing