The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) says it welcomes the NSW Government’s bonus to public sector health care professionals but says it should be tax-free and adopted by every jurisdiction in the country.
“I am pleased to see NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announce frontline health workers will receive a $3000 bonus to recognise the extensive sacrifices we have made throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” ACN acting CEO Yvonne Mckinlay said.
“In January, ACN wrote to the premier outlining our proposal for a one-off tax-free bonus for nurses as a means of retention and compensation for all they endured over the last two years.
“We have also had productive discussions with the Australian Greens at the Federal and NSW levels.
McKinlay said the NSW announcement is the first step, but it fails to sufficiently recognise how much the health profession has endured throughout the pandemic.
“Today, we continue our calls for any pandemic bonus to be tax-free and for the other jurisdictions to follow suit and provide a bonus to all nurses.
“As the national voice of the nursing profession, ACN constantly hears stories from our members and nurses outlining the dire situation they are facing as a third winter of managing high COVID-19 cases approaches.
“Losses of senior nurses, rampant furloughing of staff, and lack of support are putting extreme pressure on the mental health and wellbeing of nurses across the country.
“If NSW and the other jurisdictions are serious about tackling our nursing workforce crisis, they’ll listen to ACN’s calls to make COVID-19 bonus payments tax-free and available to all nurses in Australia.”
Victorian nurses, midwives, doctors and paramedics will also be handed a one-off $3000 payment to attract and retain them in the state’s strained health system.
All staff working in public hospitals and ambulance services will be offered the cash and free meals as the sector braces for a busy winter plagued by more COVID-19 and flu cases.
To be eligible, workers must be employed the state’s public health service by July 1 and still be employed on September 30.
The first payment will be made on August 15 and the second at the end of September, as part of the $353 million package from the Victorian Government.
“This is all about encouraging people to take up shifts if they can, to go from being part-time to maybe working some further hours,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s also about bringing people back into the system.
“It’s also a fundamental acknowledgement of the extreme pressure, the really significant challenge that there is in our health system at the moment.”
Thousands of staff in both clinical and non-clinical roles will be provided the payment, including those working in cleaning, food services and laundry services.