Aged care workers struggle to access $800 Fed Govt payments as peaks call for wages boost

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Aged care workers are having difficulty accessing the Federal Government’s promised $800 bonus payments two months after they were announced, with only a fraction of providers having made claims so far.

Providers are required to make a claim for the funding, and are being encouraged to pay their workers as soon as they submit their applications to the Government. Despite applications closing early next month, The Guardian has reported that, as of last week, only 322 out of an anticipated 1,650 have made claims.

“This is an arrangement solely between the provider as the employer and their employees. It is a demand-driven grant,” Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck (above) told The Guardian, adding that the Government expects to receive applications for more than 265,000 aged care workers and pay out over $210 million.

Paul Sadler (pictured), CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), told The Weekly SOURCE that the Government has begun releasing the payments.

“We have received feedback that the claims process is complex and it takes providers some time to be ready to lodge the claim. We would expect payments to staff to accelerate in the next fortnight,” he said.

The payments – in two pro-rata instalments of up to $400 each – were announced in January and failed to impress the sector, being labelled “underwhelming” and “grossly inadequate”.

Ahead of the Federal election, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration has also launched a campaign calling for increased wages for workers, which it says have fallen behind cost of living.

According to analysis by the alliance of sector peak bodies, the average single aged care worker has just $112 per week available after expenses, while a worker in a two-parent house with two children has just $17; single parents, meanwhile, are unable to afford basic essentials, and are running $148 per week in the red.

“Aged care workers deserve better pay to keep up with cost-of-living pressures, and career certainty. The Royal Commission recognised this when it called for higher wages, better qualifications, and more time for workers to spend with older people.

“The AACC is calling on all parties and independent candidates to join representatives of older people and their carers, providers, unions, and health professionals in a partnership to support the aged care workforce,” the organisation said.

AACC has called for a number of reforms including minimum and award wage increases; an allied health needs assessment and funding model; and a Workforce Partnership Fund for providers.