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THE VICTORIAN state government
has announced plans to sell nearly
1000 metropolitan residential aged
care beds in a bid to cut costs to
its growing health budget.
Budget documents reveal
the government expects to save
$75 million over two years by
offloading the beds to private or
Health Minister David Davis
said Southern Cross Care
(Victoria) is now running beds
previously owned by Peninsula
Health in Victoria's Mornington
Peninsula at a lower cost.
Mr Davis said he believed
the private or community sector
could run aged care facilities as
well or even better than the state.
The savings will be achieved
from the reduced wages bill
in non-government aged care
facilities, where pay rates are lower
and facilities do not have to abide
by the state's nurse-patient ratios.
The Victorian government
operates around 25 residential
aged care facilities in Melbourne
run by local hospital networks.
In a bid to curb the growing
costs to their state budgets,
NSW and Queensland have also
announced similar offloading
of its aged care assets -- most
recently in Queensland in 2012.
The Victorian government has
been the largest state-owner of
residential aged care in Australia
and is a major provider of non-
metropolitan residential care.
In 2010, state and territory
governments owned 5.1 per cent
of all residential care beds in the
country and the figure has been
declining in recent years.
The Victorian Opposition
expressed concerns over the plan,
warning rural beds would be next.
Opposition Leader Daniel
Andrews said registered nursing
staff would be replaced with lower
paid carers, a fear also held by
the Australian Nursing Federation
The ANF told The Age that
nurses would be made redundant
as private facilities increased
the proportion of personal care
workers over RNs.
Mr Davis denied any plans to
sell off government-owned beds in
rural Victoria and said patient safety
would not be compromised. n
AUSTRALIA IS substantially
lagging behind other countries in
the employment of older female
workers, according to a new report
released by Diversity Council
Australia and the Australian
Human Rights Commission.
According to the most recent
data, Australian women aged 55-
64 had a workforce participation
rate (54.9 per cent) that was
up to 17 per cent less than
comparable countries such as
Sweden (72 per cent) and New
Zealand (69.8 per cent).
Australia also trails countries
such as the US and Canada by up
to 5 per cent. Analysis shows that if
Australia had the same participation
rates as New Zealand of people
aged over 55, GDP in 2012 would
have been 4 per cent higher.
According to the ABS, older
female workers in Australia have
significantly lower participation
rates than their male counterparts,
as much as 17 points lower for
women aged 55-64.
Overall 69 per cent of men
(aged 45 and over) are in the
labour force, compared to just 45
per cent of women.
Commissioner, Susan Ryan
said that Australia is ignoring
a huge pool of talent and
experience to the detriment of
industry, the national economy
and to older women.
"This is a terrible waste of
human capital, undermines the
national imperative of growing the
economy and results in significant
loss to businesses. It also
impacts the financial, emotional
and physical wellbeing of the
many women who are consigned
to unwanted early retirement,"
Ms Ryan said in response to the
Some of the barriers women
face to employment include
age and gender discrimination,
health and disability, caring
responsibilities, inflexible work,
and limited access to training
While the research says that
underemployment of older workers
has fallen in the last decade,
it remains most persistent for
women aged 45-54.
According to the report, 150,700
older women are underemployed in
Australia and would prefer to work
more hours -- that is equivalent
to 16 per cent of those currently
employed part-time. n
VIC to sell off state-owned beds
Australia lagging behind on gender
and age inclusive workforce By Linda Belardi
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 7
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