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A LAST DITCH attempt by Labor
to save its $1.2 billion Aged Care
Workforce Supplement has failed
with the Federal Government
successfully moving a
disallowance motion in the House
of Representatives to remove
instruments created by the
previous government to establish
The government's move in the
final parliamentary sitting days
followed motions lodged in the
Senate by Shadow Parliamentary
Secretary for Aged Care Senator
Helen Polley to disallow the
government's suspension of the
Supplement. Her motions were
supported by the Greens.
Announcing the successful
disallowance motion on 12
December, Minister for Social
Services Kevin Andrews and
Assistant Minister for Social
Services Mitch Fifield said Labor
was attempting to "govern from
In a joint statement they said:
"Disallowing the instruments
that created the Workforce
Supplement will mean there is
no longer a legislative basis on
which to pay the Supplement."
They said "transitional
arrangements" would be put in
place for the providers who were
in receipt of the Supplement.
scaremongering claims that we
will dump Veterans and Dementia
supplements are also untrue,"
The Federal Government first
floated its plans to scrap the
Workforce Supplement in late
August and return the money to
the "general pool" of aged care
funding. In late September the
government announced it was
suspending further applications
for the Supplement.
Responding to the developments,
aged care providers welcomed
the Federal Government's
moves while aged care unions
expressed their outrage.
Aged and Community Services
Australia (ACSA) said the "political
manoeuvering" by the Opposition
to restore its Workforce
Supplement would have brought
division to the sector over wages.
ACSA CEO Adjunct Professor
John Kelly said all aged care
workers deserve better pay and
conditions but the pay rise was
only available where providers
had an enterprise bargaining
"We accept the assurance
from Minister Andrews' office
that it will honour the funding
commitment to the 12 providers
who applied for funding and were
approved," he said.
Leading Age Services
Australia, Victoria's acting CEO
Frances Mirabelli said while
an increase in wages for staff
was positive, the Workforce
Supplement, subsidised by
reallocating funds previously
designated for the quality care of
older Australians, was "absolutely
not the best way to achieve this."
"The Workforce Supplement
was flawed -- it was cumbersome,
complex and did not recognise
the current level of remuneration
being paid to staff by individual
providers; in essence, it was
ineffective in supporting
sustainable wage outcomes for
Michael Crosby, United Voice
national president, described the
Federal Government's move as a
"blow" to aged care workers.
He said the aged care sector
struggled to attract and retain
the quality workforce needed to
ensure older Australians get a
high standard of care.
"There is no hope of building
that workforce unless the problem
of inadequate wages and
unrealistic workloads is fixed."
Similarly, the Australian
Nursing and Midwifery Federation
(ANMF) expressed its outrage at
the scrapping of the Workforce
Federal Secretary Lee Thomas
said the ANMF had approximately
90 per cent of the aged care
sector already covered by
enterprise agreements "and these
agreements award all nurses
and in many cases assistants in
nursing wages and conditions
that are above the award."
Ms Thomas said the Workforce
Supplement was the first time
government funding had directly
flowed into the pockets of under-
paid nurses and care workers.
Shadow Minister for Aged Care,
Shayne Neumann, said the
Abbott Government has acted
with "unmitigated malice".
"Minister Andrews should
hang his head in shame.
His actions are typical of a
government which does not
value Australian workers," Mr
The Greens said they were
"extremely disappointed" with the
Federal Government's actions.
Senator Rachel Siewert,
Australian Greens spokesperson
on ageing, said the government
had shown "complete disregard
for aged care workers, who often
receive very low wages, despite
the fact they're at the front line
when it comes to providing care.
"It is clear that they have
no idea how to solve the policy
problem of delivering better aged
care wages," she said. n
Government succeeds in scrapping
Workforce Supplement By Darragh O'Keeffe
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 7
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