Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has called on the Australian government to introduce industry-wide visa sponsorships for the aged care sector to address the ongoing workforce crisis. In its pre-budget submission, CHA noted that there are currently at least 60,000 care and nursing job vacancies, with the workforce shortage expected to worsen in the coming months.
To address this issue, CHA is recommending an industry-wide approach to the Pacific Australia Labor Migration (PALM) scheme, which would involve recruiting job-ready applicants from the Pacific region for training and work experience in Australia. An information session was recently held in Honiara, Solomon Islands where around 100 people expressed interest in Australian employment opportunities.
The plan would support both workforce challenges in Australia and better develop a future skilled workforce in partner nations.
In addition, CHA is also pushing for personal care workers to become eligible for sponsorship, for the visa application process to be streamlined, and for the government to enact the Fair Work Commission’s 15% pay rise for aged care workers.
Jason Kara, Aged Care Director at CHA, stated that the government needs to act quickly to address the workforce shortages before the aged care sector is severely impacted. He noted that “unless there is drastic action on the current trajectory, many aged care operators just won’t have the staff that’s needed.”
Overall, CHA’s proposal aims to reduce the shortage by coordinating recruitment, training, and onboarding, while reducing overheads and other barriers for providers and applicants. Additionally, the plan would incorporate training in Australia to help develop a future skilled workforce in partnership with Pacific nations when migrants return home, ultimately giving back to the neighbouring communities.
CHA’s proposal underscores the urgent need to address the workforce crisis in the aged care sector and provide essential support to improve the quality of care for Australia’s elderly population.