The Federal Budget’s commitment of $11.3 billion to fund a 15% pay raise for aged care workers was undoubtedly a welcomed announcement. However, over a month later, those in non-direct care roles find themselves in a state of uncertainty. The exclusion of these essential employees from the funding and the delay in addressing their situation in Stage 3 of the Fair Work Commission Tribunal is a matter of concern, with some suggesting the delay could be as long as 12 months.
For Whiddon, a regional aged care provider, the exclusions affect a significant portion of their workforce, comprising 26% of their employees. This exclusion extends to approximately 20% of the total care workforce across the industry, which is detrimental considering their crucial role in delivering quality aged care. These employees are left neglected, with no clarity regarding their wages.
Whiddon CEO, Chris Mamarelis believes that the timing of the Stage 3 Work Value Hearing should be expedited. The delayed hearing not only prolongs the uncertainty for these workers but also sends a message that those in non-direct care roles are undervalued for their contributions.
The funding models resulting from the pay increase announcement also introduce new challenges in accessing funding. Providers like Whiddon express concerns over the lack of clarity regarding timings, applications, and processes. Previous experiences have shown that care providers often face complex bureaucratic processes and lengthy wait times before receiving promised funding.
Whiddon suggests that the funding should be applied across the board, including roles involved in direct care as well as those responsible for essential tasks such as food preparation. All these elements contribute to delivering holistic and quality care to senior Australians.
According to Whiddon’s CEO, Chris Mamarelis, “Whilst the 15% increase has been a great first step, there is still 26% of our workforce at Whiddon that remain in limbo.” He believes that there is a duty to provide clarity and expedite the Stage 3 Work Value Hearing to ensure all employees in the aged care workforce, regardless of their roles, feel valued and supported.
Vanessa Baker, a member of Whiddon’s Catering Team at Kelso in regional NSW, echoes the sentiment, stating that, “the pay increase would help all team members feel valued as they are all there for the residents.”.
The delay in addressing the wage increase for non-direct care roles in the aged care sector is an issue that requires attention. It is essential to shed light on the impact this delay has on critical workers and work towards expediting the process to ensure fair treatment and equitable compensation for all employees involved in delivering aged care services.