The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), which represents more than 1,000 providers, has written to Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt and Senior Australians and Aged Services Minister Richard Colbeck asking for migrant nurses and aged care workers to be allowed into the country.
Aged and Community Services Australia CEO, Paul Sadler (pictured), who co-signed the letter, said it has specifically sought to have migrant aged care workers added to the Home Affairs’ Department’s Skilled Occupation List.
“We are looking at nurses and people with knowledge and skills working in aged care overseas. In addition, we want training and support for these workers when they enter Australia,” he said.
Mr Sadler said the Federal Government’s closure of international borders in March last year due to the risk of COVID-19, the need for Registered Nurses (RN) at COVID-19 vaccination clinics and the higher pay in disability and health services had exacerbated what was already a crisis.
The 2020 Aged Care Workforce Census said providers reported a total of 9,404 vacancies in direct care roles at the time of the Census from November 2019 to November 2020. The turnover was highest among Nurse Practitioners and RNs, with 37% having left their employment over the 12-month period.
“Operators are forced to close beds as there is not the staff to look after the residents. We have reached a point where we need to do something short-term,” said Mr Sadler.