Aged care workers have lashed out at conditions in the sector as it deals with a surge of COVID-19 conditions, labelling it as a “factory”, as Labor intensifies pressure on the minister to resign.
Opposition aged care spokeswoman Clare O’Neil attacked the Federal Government’s response in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in the sector, with more than 500 deaths from the virus in residential facilities since the start of the year.
O’Neil called for a pay rise for workers, saying large numbers of employees were leaving the industry.
“Aged care workers are some of the most poorly paid people in our country,” she told reporters in Canberra.
“You will earn more at Bunnings, you will earn more on the checkout than you will doing some of the most complex and important work that is to be done in this country.”
Aged care workers advocating for a 25 per cent pay rise met with O’Neil and opposition leader Anthony Albanese at Parliament House on Thursday.
It comes following further calls for aged care minister Richard Colbeck to resign over his handling of the crisis.
The Federal Government this week announced it is sending in 1700 Australian Defence Force personnel to assist the aged care sector as it deals with staff shortages and a lack of equipment.
O’Neil said while more assistance in the sector was needed, long-term solutions were required.
“We do not have enough staff, the staff who are working are leaving the sector in droves because they can’t do it any more,” she said.
“The fix for that is to take proper respect and care for these workers so they can properly support their residents.”
Meanwhile, more booster shots have been approved for use, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration giving the provisional green light for AstraZeneca.
However, the federal health department has indicated Pfizer and Moderna boosters were still the preferred options for Australians to receive their third dose.