Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2016 Contents ONE OF THE most pressing
challenges facing the aged care
sector is workforce.
With more and more people
requiring services, the aged care
workforce will inevitably need to
grow. In addition, the changing
cohort of consumers entering the
system will require a workforce
with a more comprehensive and
diverse set of skills.
These are things that
providers, stakeholders and
government recognise -- the next
step is how to address the issue.
Aged & Community Services
Australia (ACSA) is committed
to the development of an aged
care workforce strategy that
can be effectively implemented
to support Australia's ongoing
need for a highly skilled and
Designing an effective
strategy, however, will not
be possible without close
cooperation between government
and industry. Other groups within
the sector, such as consumers,
on-the-ground staff and other
stakeholders have important
roles to play however, it must be
industry-led and championed.
Last December, the Senate
Inquiry into the Future of the Aged
Care Workforce was announced,
and ACSA's submission to the
inquiry outlined several areas
where government and industry
can work closely together.
One of these areas is
workforce research and planning,
including accurate state-by-
state projection data. This is
an absolute necessity to help
inform the development of any
strategy. There is some projection
data already available, such as
the Productivity Commission's
2011 findings, which found the
workforce will need to grow by
2.73 per cent each year to cope
with the influx of consumers.
However, there is a lack of
consistency in the figures.
Statistics and figures
from various sources -- both
government and otherwise -- use
the terms "aged care workforce"
and "direct care workers"
interchangeably, but anyone who
has ever worked in the sector
will tell you that the range of
fields and professions involved
in running an organisation is far
more diverse than just nurses
and carers. A more accurate and
detailed portrait of the overall
skills requirements of the sector is
imperative if a workforce strategy
is to be successfully developed
There are a number of areas
to be considered in workforce
strategies that sit outside aged care,
but have a profound effect on our
workforce. These include education
and training and immigration.
The Aged Care Workforce
Census and Survey 2012 found
that 35 per cent of the aged care
workforce was born outside of
Australia. With increased migration
to Australia in the years since 2012,
it is not unrealistic to place this figure
at closer to 40 per cent in 2016.
This presents a significant
opportunity for government to
promote expansion of the aged
care workforce while at the same
time provide new emigrants with
structured career pathways,
through increased investment in
appropriate training for people
from CALD backgrounds.
Our sector is fortunate
in that many of the skills
required, particularly in the
fields of nursing and caring, are
translatable across international
borders, so individuals with
backgrounds in these areas
may only require basic levels of
cultural education, support and
assistance to adapt to service
provision in Australia.
In discussions about
Australia's ageing general
population we often overlook the
fact that our own workforce is
People are working until
well into their late 60s and early
70s, and our sector needs to
adapt to this changing culture
through flexibility in employment
arrangements, work practices,
and by providing older
employees with opportunities to
help develop and mentor the next
generation of industry leaders.
A coordinated approach to
aged care workforce research,
planning and development must
be a priority for government, in
collaboration with providers.
The longer appropriate
investment and support is
delayed, the larger the final cost
is likely to be.
A disjointed, piecemeal
response will simply not do.
Providers need a skilled
and committed workforce to
deliver quality aged care to
older Australians. n
Pat Sparrow is the CEO
of Aged and Community
A more accurate portrait of the overall skills requirements of the
sector is imperative if a workforce strategy is to be successfully
developed and implemented, writes Pat Sparrow.
"A coordinated approach
to aged care workforce
research, planning and
development must be a
priority for government, in
collaboration with providers."
12 | NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2016 | AAA
Links Archive AAA Jan-Feb 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page