Catholic Health Australia, Uniting NSW.ACT and UnitingCare Australia are using the second day of the Jobs & Skills Summit to call for the addition of personal care workers to the skilled migration occupation list as an immediate way of plugging the gap in the aged care workforce.
A CHA study has found that there were almost 60,000 vacancies in the aged care sector alone, of which 45,000 are qualified aged care roles.
Peak advocacy body CHA represents Catholic not for profit aged care providers while Uniting NSW.ACT is one of the largest providers of aged care in the country. Both are attending the Jobs & Skills Summit. Uniting NSW.ACT is part of the UnitingCare Network, the largest network of not-for-profit aged care providers nationally. They are appealing to immigration minister Andrew Giles and making the case to delegates at the summit.
The addition of a new classification to the skilled migration list is at the top of the list of CHA’s five-point plan and is one that could be done immediately they say.
CHA CEO Pat Garcia said adding personal care workers to the skilled migration list could really help plug the gap in the aged care workforce. “When there are almost 60,000 vacancies in aged care right now this is something that Government can do and do it quickly,” he said.
“There is no doubt that we have more work to do to attract and retain our domestic aged care workers but bringing in workers from countries that have an existing relationship with Australia will help alleviate what is a workforce crisis.”
Uniting NSW.ACT director of seniors services, Saviour Buhagiar, said skilled migration of personal care workers must sit alongside fully funded increases to pay and improvement in training, plus fast tracking of nurse migration to address the immediate crisis.
“The workforce crisis in aged care is very real,” he said.
“We have 10 per cent vacancy rates across our operations, about 1000 of them in aged care.
“After the work our people have done during the pandemic to keep seniors safe, we cannot keep asking them to work double shifts and struggle to fill rosters.
“We need the boost to our workforce that including personal care workers in the migration list will deliver.”