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Are we paying aged care workers enough?

Are we paying aged care workers enough?

Australia will need to expand its aged care workforce to 1 million by 2050, but with rates on par with retail and hospitality workers, is the pay attractive?

Speaking in Melbourne on Friday, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the current aged care workforce will need to nearly triple from 366,000 to 1 million by 2050 in order to meet the future needs of Australia’s ageing population.

In an address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia he said, “I urge younger and older Australians to consider a future in aged care. 

“The possibilities are numerous and expanding – from nursing, allied health, horticulture and administration, to robotics and IT and the list goes on. But just as important are the rewards.

“I see the ageing sector providing not only a positive career, but also a privilege. To provide quality care to our elders can deliver enormous satisfaction.”

Mr Wyatt noted that as of last year, the aged care workforce, headed by Professor John Pollaers, will focus on ensuring a strong supply or qualified, productive and professional staff to the aged care sector.


However, as it stands, and according to the latest aged care award, full-time aged care workers earn between $19.44 an hour for level one employees and $23.62 an hour for level seven employees, who are the highest in the table.

Weekly pay rates range between $738.80 and $897.40. Pay does increase with overtime, for shifts in which employees have not had at least 10 hours between shifts, and late night, afternoon or weekend shifts.   

A level one employee has less than three months experience and works under routine or direct supervision. An employee in this category requires no previous training and could be a laundry hand, assistant gardener or food services assistant.

Jumping forward to level four employees (full-time hourly rate: $21.29), for personal care workers in this category a relevant certificate III qualification is required.

Level seven workers require developed administrative and problem solving skills and may require an advanced certificate or associate diploma level of qualification, among others.

In the hospitality industry, level one workers earn $18.81 an hour, while level six workers earn $23.23.

In the retail industry, level one employees earn $20.08, level seven workers are on par with aged care workers at $23.62 and level eight employees earn $24.57 an hour.

To Mr Wyatt, actively involving younger generations in the aged care workforce will be “key to the integration and transformation required” by Australia’s growing needs.

He continued, relating the stories of two young aged care trainees, one of whom was living in a violent relationship, and the other living on the streets of Kings Cross.

“At his graduation [the young man from Kings Cross] said, ‘I can’t wait to wake up each day to go to work to see the 35 smiling faces, who share their stories with me.”

Continuing, Mr Wyatt said the young woman also happily accepted the opportunity for aged care experience, and removed herself from the violent relationship.

“Both graduated with flying colours. She went on to win two major HESTA awards for her work, and said it was the best decision she had ever made,” the minister said.

Are we paying aged care workers enough?
Are we paying aged care workers enough?
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