Fed Govt boost for Registered Nurses not for all, says Whiddon CEO Chris Mamarelis

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The Not For Profit’s CEO (pictured) says it is “incredible” that the Federal Government’s additional bonus payment to Registered Nurses in rural and remote areas excludes a number of key regional and rural locations.

Health and Aged Care Minister, Greg Hunt, and Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Minister, Richard Colbeck, announced further details of the payment to Registered Nurses – originally revealed in the Federal Budget in May – this week.

Full-time Registered Nurses can receive a payment of $3,700 for each year and part-time and casual Registered Nurses can receive payment on a pro rata basis, averaging $2,700 each year if they work for the same aged care provider for 12 months.

The payment will be offered in both 2022 and 2023.

Additionally, nurses can receive up to an additional $2,300 if they work in a rural or remote area, hold a postgraduate qualification or take on additional leadership or training responsibilities in their workplace – but not all areas are eligible for the funding.

Only areas classified from 5-7 under the Modified Monash Model will qualify.

This includes small rural towns, for example, Mount Buller, Moruya, Renmark, Condamine; remote communities, for example, Cape Tribulation, Lightning Ridge, Alice Springs, Mallacoota, Port Hedland, and very remote communities, for example, Longreach, Coober Pedy, and Thursday Island.

“It is great to see this proactive measure announced to provide support to our incredible Registered Nurses working in aged care. As an aged care provider in regional, rural and remote NSW and QLD, we face immense recruitment and retention challenges. Within the current operating environment, and due to the fact that we are competing with hospitals and other health services to attract and retain employees, this targeted initiative is very welcome,” said Mr Mamarelis.

“It is also positive to see Registered Nurses recognised and rewarded for taking on additional clinical and leadership skills within the aged care environment, while also providing specific incentives for nurses working in regional and rural locations, where workforce challenges are most evident.

“However, it is disappointing to see that the funding formula applied excludes a number of key regional and rural locations that we operate in. Incredibly, locations such as Casino, Narrabri, Mudgee and Moree are not eligible under the current funding guidelines. We know from experience, the recruitment and retention challenges that exist in these locations and we desperately need to broaden the geographic scope of this initiative to support our elderly and our communities alike,” he added.

The first round of applications will open from 1 November 2022 and run until 31 October next year. The second payment period runs from November 2022 until October 2023.

Aged care providers will need to apply for the Aged Care Registered Nurse Payment on behalf of their nursing workforce.

Enquiries about the payment, including eligibility requirements and the grant application process can be sent to ACRNpayment@health.gov.au.