Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2017 Contents of providers’ revenue comes from the taxpayer
and the Commonwealth caps the level of funding
it provides for individuals.
“The only way that more of that revenue
can flow to increase wages and salaries is if that
revenue stream is increased in some way. It is a
finite situation,” he said.
Similarly, Darren Mathewson of Aged &
Community Ser vices Tasmania said of wages:
“One challenge is to get an acceptance that
we should move up the priority list in terms of
funding of this sector, so funding is a critical
part of that.”
Yet the levels of funding flowing through the
sector as a whole have increased, according to the
latest Aged Care Financing Authority report.
For instance, the average earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization
(EBIDTA) per resident per year was $10,222 in
2014-15, up from $9,224 in 2013-14.
However, ACFA noted the financial impact of
the reforms varies across the sector.
Leading Age Services Australia says that
while “a relatively small number” of aged care
providers are performing well financially, 35 per
cent of all providers are technically not viable in
the current environment.
“Successive aged care funding cuts are
resulting in providers experiencing financial
difficulties maintaining their current staffing
levels let alone uplifts to wages and salaries for
their aged care workforce,” says LASA chief
Fellow peak body Aged & Community
Ser vices Australia points to data collected by
industr y accountants Stewart Brown to show that
since 2007 care wages have increased at a rate
greater than care revenue.
“Therefore, any increase in ACFI revenue
has on average been spent largely on the care of
residents,” ACSA chief Pat Sparrow tells AAA.
Some argue that greater consumer
Blokes on top in
You only need to walk the halls of an Australian aged
care facility to realise residential aged care is a highly
But while women are over-represented in frontline care,
non-management and junior management roles, their
numbers drop dramatically at the top executive echelons,
data from the government’s Workplace Gender Equity
Women account for 90 per cent of clerical and
administrative roles and 69 per cent of senior management
positions yet they make up just 36 per cent of CEO positions.
To make matters worse, the women who do make it
into the leadership ranks are often paid less than their
The aged care sector overall has a 3.7 per cent gender
wage gap in total pay for full-time workers but this jumps to
a 17 per cent salary gap for the women in key management
positions, the WGEA data shows.
Similarly, female general managers earn 4 per cent less
than their male counterparts doing the same role.
contributions in aged care – whereby
government increases the amount older people
pay for care and services – could flow through to
better pay for workers.
But others, like Liza De Ronchi, chief
operating officer at St Ives Home Care, cast
doubt on that prospect.
St Ives sur veyed older people not currently
receiving aged care to ask what they thought the
minimum wage for care workers should be.
They suggested about $17 an hour.
“So the wider community does not value,
from a monetar y point of view, the skill sets and
the services that these staff actually provide,” De
Ronchi told the Senate inquiry.
Framework to further issues
Sparrow argues that both the ongoing reforms
to aged care and the work under way on a new
funding model for residential aged care should
take into account the wages of care workers
She says ACSA and fellow provider peaks have
developed an Aged Care Strategy Framework to
progress the workforce domain of the Aged Care
Sector Committee’s Aged Care Roadmap, which
details the sector’s position on necessar y reforms
in aged care.
LASA also points to the framework, saying
provider peaks have written to the government
recommending workers and consumers also be
engaged in the strategy’s development.
Back at the inquiry hearings, care worker
Brenda Oganyo sums up the issue: “Low
wages have made the sector unattractive to
potential workers and young people looking for
She says many carers undertake courses to
improve their knowledge and practice, but even
then their wages do not reflect their new skills.
“We, in aged care, are in the forgotten
industr y,” she says. n
28 | JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2017
RECRUITMENT & RETENTION
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