Healthcare workers and community advocates in Australia will hold a non-denominational ceremony on Thursday to observe a minute of silence for over 5000 colleagues who have lost their jobs due to the government’s aged care reforms process. Aged care nurses, dental professionals, physiotherapists and other allied health workers will unite for the minute of silence, which will be conducted in Canberra and live-streamed nationwide.
The ceremony is being led by Dr Anthony Schoenwald, a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, and theologian, and Alwyn Blayse, CEO of Allied Aged Care (ACC) and a physiotherapist. According to Blayse, aged care allied health jobs were not protected during the October 2022 transition from the previous Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) to the new Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC).
Blayse claims that cuts were incentivised without mandated minimum standards attached to the new allied health funding streams in aged care, leading to job losses that have been steadily increasing ever since. This has been worsened by successive federal governments’ denial of the problem, leaving many healthcare workers struggling to move on. The Royal Commission indicated that the levels of allied health two years ago were inadequate to prevent the deterioration of older Australians living in aged care, and this situation has only gotten worse since then.
The ceremony will coincide with Greens Senator Janet Rice lodging a petition in the Senate calling for a solution to bring back enrolled nurses and allied health workers who have lost their jobs. The Change.org petition, organized by Blayse, has garnered 21,000 signatures and calls on the Federal Aged Care Minister Anika Wells to amend the Aged Care Act 1997 to include minimum mandatory allied health and enrolled nursing minutes in the Star Ratings quality indicators.
The event is being supported by a growing coalition of grassroots and community-based advocacy bodies, including national reform group Aged Care Reform Now and legal advocacy charity Aged Care Justice. While Minister Wells was unable to attend the ceremony, her office gave permission to share her statement:
The ceremony organisers have requested attendance from several Senators, professional groups, and advocacy groups, and the event is open to all on Thursday at 12 pm AEST via this Zoom link – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83450012265