The long-running debate over the role of government in helping to establish an aged care workforce strategy has been resolved with the Budget announcement of funding for a new taskforce.
In last night’s Budget the government provided $1.9 million over two years to establish and support an industry-led aged care workforce taskforce.
“The taskforce will explore options to improve productivity in the aged care workforce and contribute to the development of an aged care workforce strategy, including for regional and remote areas,” according to Budget papers.
The measure is being funded from within existing resources of the Department of Health.
The funding is part of a broader $33 million workforce package to help aged care and disability service providers in rural and regional areas that was also included in the budget.
Aged and Community Services Australia, which had sought $2 million for a taskforce in its pre-Budget submission to government, last night welcomed the announcement.
“ACSA has been instrumental, with other provider peaks, in advocating the need for such a strategy,” said CEO Pat Sparrow.
Council on the Ageing Australia also said it welcomed the funds for developing an aged care workforce strategy led by the sector peak bodies, adding that it should be informed by the current Senate inquiry into workforce needs.
ACSA along with the Aged Care Guild, Leading Age Services Australia, Catholic Health Australia and UnitingCare Australia have developed a framework and agreed that an industry-led taskforce is needed to develop a workforce strategy.
“While this taskforce would be industry-led, it requires the support of government, through a commitment on the part of agencies to collaborate and participate in consultations with other stakeholder groups,” ACSA had argued in its pre-Budget submission.
There has been sector expectations of government involvement in an aged care workforce strategy ever since then minister for aged care Mitch Fifield told Australian Ageing Agenda in January 2015 that an audit of government-funded programs would lead to the development of a strategy.
Elsewhere in last night’s budget, aged care providers could also be impacted by previously announced changes to the skilled migration pathway.
Providers seeking to recruit overseas registered nurses on the medium-term stream of the new Temporary Skills Shortage visa will be required to pay a contribution towards a new training fund.
The fee is $1,200 per year for small businesses (annual turnover of less than $10 million) and $1,800 per year for others.
AAA’s coverage of Budget 2017: