Aged Care Workforce Inquiry: Government Response

Article published 21 July 2018

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Taskforce Report

On 26 June, the Australian Government responded to the recommendations of the Senate inquiry Future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce.

VOICE readers might recall that this Senate inquiry was started before the last election and restarted after it. Eventually, in late 2017, the Australian Government set up the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, which had a reporting deadline of 30 June 2018.

Given the proximity of these two dates, it is fair to assume that the Government’s response to the Senate inquiry’s recommendations are completely in sync with the Workforce Strategy Taskforce’s report but this is not what happened.

The Government should have waited with its response until after the publication of the Taskforce’s report.

There are 19 recommendations from the Senate inquiry and we can’t cover them all here.

However, the Government’s response to the recommendation the Taskforce be composed of provider, union, medical, consumer and volunteer representatives is interesting: it “supports the engagement of a broad range of stakeholders”.

So here we are, the Taskforce has wrapped up its work, and the Government says it supports doing what it has patently not done: ensuring all stakeholders had a voice in the Taskforce.

Recommendations 8 and 9 are for a “minimum nursing requirement”, also known as mandatory staff-to-nursing-home-resident ratios.

The Government merely “notes” these recommendations, saying that it “expects the development of a workforce strategy [..] [to] consider the composition of the workforce in light of the changing needs of older people”.

Given that the Aged Care Workforce Strategy lacks the voices of care workers, consumers and volunteers, how likely is it that the Taskforce’s report comes out in support of mandatory staff-to-nursing-home-resident ratios?

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