Government triggers funding for single-site workers in aged care homes

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The Morrison Government is giving extra money to single-site workers at aged care facilities in Victoria after it was discovered staff at one of the two aged care homes affected by Melbourne’s latest COVID-19 outbreak worked across multiple sites.

The Government issued non-mandatory guidelines that workers who worked at more than one aged care provider would have to choose a primary employer after people who worked across multiple facilities was regarded as a key reason for Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus in July last year and led to almost 700 people dying in residential aged care.

However, it was just a guideline and as we reported back in July it was not supported by the Health Workers Union (HSU) Secretary Diana Asmar, who said a single-site policy would see workers “forced onto the poverty line”.

In fact, the HSU lodged a legal challenge to try to stop Mecwacare from sacking employees if they worked for a second employer.

The only measure that the Federal Government is using is a grant program which provides extra funding to support single-site working. The funding was enacted on Thursday 27 May, after the first cases began emerging in Melbourne.

Federal Opposition Health spokesman, Mark Butler, said it was “very difficult” to make a living wage working in ‘private’ residential aged care.

“It’s very hard, very rare to pull together a full-time job. The hourly wages are quite low. So there is, I guess, a financial incentive for people to work across aged care facilities,” he said.