The Health Services Union (HSU) has warned politicians across the board that their future hinges on support for aged care funding and wages, as explosive polling reveals the issue will change votes at the coming election.
According to polling by JWS Research, a strong majority (62 per cent) of Australians believe Federal Government funding for aged care should be increased, with only 15 per cent believing it is about right, three per cent wanting a decrease, and 19 per cent undecided.
Support for an increase is even more prevalent in 17 swing electorates (74 per cent) and among Labor voters (73 per cent).
The poll also reveals 71 per cent of Australians support a 25 per cent increase for all aged care workers when also told this is equivalent to an increase of between $5.40 and $7.20 per hour to increase the average wage to $29 per hour.
Only seven per cent are opposed while 21 per cent are neutral or undecided.
And at the coming federal election, almost half of those polled (46 per cent) would be more likely to vote for a party or candidate who supports increased Federal Government funding for aged care (versus two per cent less likely, 40 per cent no difference, 11 per cent undecided).
In the 17 swing electorates, support climbs to 55 per cent.
In support of a wage increase for aged care workers, 71 per cent of those polled agree that ‘many facilities are understaffed – wage increases are needed to attract and retain staff with the right mix of skills to ensure older Australians receive safe, quality care’.
HSU National President Gerard Hayes said the results were a wakeup call for wavering politicians.
“It’s simply inexplicable that Scott Morrison and the Liberals are yet to back the HSU case for a decent wage aged care rise,” he said.
“They won’t even commit to funding the outcome of a wage rise awarded by the Fair Work Commission.
“We will be reminding the public of this every day until the federal election.
Hayes said the poll results are also a clear warning for Labor politicians.
“Labor needs to be clear on its commitment to aged care or it will risk losing support to those independents and minor parties who do.
“At least 600 aged care residents have lost their lives during the Omicron outbreak. This is traumatising for families, but also for staff.
“This workforce is mostly casual or underemployed women, their work is physically and emotionally exhausting and they are at their wits’ end.
Hayes said any politician who won’t commit to higher wages “should eyeball the workforce” and explain why they don’t deserve to earn more than $22 an hour.
“They should also ask themselves if they would trade places with an aged care worker.
“Aged care funding is a vote changer at this election.
“The sooner politicians realise this and commit to a wage rise, the better.”
The survey was conducted online from January 10 – 19 2022, and comprised a nationally representative sample of 1600 respondents.
Half of those polled were sampled from the following 17 identified electorates: Gilmore, Richmond, Macquarie, Eden-Monaro, Robertson, Cowper, Page, Dobell, Blair, Longman, Leichhardt, Boothby, Braddon, Bass, Flinders, Hasluck, Pearce.