The Federal Government was squarely in the campaign sights of aged care workers who rallied outside Federal Parliament yesterday, after being, what they call ‘dudded’, in Tuesday night’s Budget.
Personal care workers, home care workers, recreational activities officers, catering, cleaning, administration, and other aged care staff are seeking a 25 per cent pay increase through a Fair Work Commission case.
This would equate to an increase of between $5.40 and $7.20 per hour to increase the average wage to $29 per hour.
Some aged care workers are currently paid less than $22 per hour.
“Last night we had great disappointment in terms of the Federal Budget,” HSU national secretary Lloyd Williams said, addressing the rally.
“We’ve got no commitment from the Liberals in terms of lifting wages of aged care workers and in terms of better funding for the future.”
“If we really want to change aged care, the bottom line is that we have to change the government.”
Federal Labor has committed to support the case, with shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers committing at the weekend to fund an increase.
Labor politicians present at yesterday’s rally included Bill Shorten, Jess Walsh, Ged Kearney, Emma Mcbride, Stephen Jones, Pat Conroy, Chris Hayes and Sharon Burns.
Also addressing the rally, Clare O’Neil, shadow minister for aged care services, said the system is the responsibility of the Government and the Budget was an opportunity to fix it.
“Instead, we’ve got nothing out of the Government to fix any of these problems,” she said.
“I am incredibly passionate about fixing aged care.
“[The crisis] is a disgrace because that Australian you [as an aged care worker] are helping deserves so much better, and it’s a disgrace because you deserve better.
“… what we know, is that as well as this Government providing disgraceful neglect to hundreds of thousands of older Australians, they are creating a situation where you have to go to work every day and make heartbreaking choices about who you will help.
“We know what the answer to that is: it’s more time for you to do your work and it’s more people on the floor with you to help you do that work.
“That is the answer. There is no age care without aged carers.
“Labor is going to take a different approach [at the upcoming election].”
Lauren Hutchins, secretary of HSU’S aged care division, told the rally that aged care workers need to speak up and ‘be loud’.
“Last night, we sat there listening to the Budget in hope: this was supposed to be the Budget that would deliver, allegedly, more jobs and better wages.
“And when it came to aged care, there was crickets, absolute silence.
“This Government has known about the problems in aged care for years.
“We had a Royal Commission that has said [that] you have been under-valued, under-resourced and under-trained.
“You need support right now, in order to support the residents that you care for.
“Josh Frydenberg said last night ‘we live in uncertain times’; I can tell him that there is one thing for certain – that we are coming after this government.”
Speaking prior to the rally, HSU national president Gerard Hayes, said aged care workers are living in poverty, skimping on food and risking homelessness.
“This is a hell of a way to repay people who risked their lives by working through the pandemic,” he said.
“The needs of aged care residents have massively expanded.
“People are living longer and entering residential aged care with increasingly complex physical, social and emotional needs, in part driven by the increasing rates of dementia.
“Yet somehow Scott Morrison and the Liberals think it’s acceptable to pay these workers as little as $22 an hour. And then they wonder why there’s a staffing crisis.
“It’s not just us saying this, the Australian people know this situation is completely crook.
“The Liberals can expect retribution at the ballot box. We will make sure of it.”