Aged Care Minister Anika Wells seeks to boost aged care workforce

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At the same time as Labor looks to make its Fair Work Commission submission on aged care wages, new Aged Care Minister Anika Wells is hoping to address skill shortages in the sector by bringing in more overseas workers.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Ms Wells (above) said she would work with the sector and with unions, as well as with Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, to develop policy settings that would address current staff shortages and projected demand, including through more foreign workers now that borders have reopened.

“While recruitment of Australians to fill roles in the aged care sector is a priority for the Government, migration has historically played a role in the aged care workforce, and will continue to play a role in future,” she said.

In a statement, Ms Wells also reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to making a submission to the Fair Work Commission in favour of raising wages.

“It’s clear that we haven’t valued people in the care and support sector enough. People are leaving the sector when we need tens of thousands more to come into it.

“An increase in workers’ wages will overwhelmingly benefit working women, given more than 85 per cent of the direct care workforce across both residential and home care are women,” she said.

Mark Butler, Minister for Health and Aged Care (pictured), said in an interview on Today that it’s critical for the Federal Government to “have a seat at the table” when it comes to aged care wages.

“Aged care workers get paid less than people working in a zoo, caring for animals, feeding animals. That simply is not fair, but it’s also not sustainable if we’re going to get the number of aged care workers, nurses, carers and other workers we need today, but particularly are going to need into the future as our population continues to age,” he said.

Unions are calling for a 25% increase to wages.