Aged Care Update
Friday 07 Aug 2020
Ministerial lobbying and parliamentary submissions
Meeting with Minister Colbeck
HSU National leadership met with Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck on Tuesday 4 August to press for a greater national response to the crisis in aged care that has been laid bare during the pandemic with devastating consequences.
In the discussions with Minister the HSU called for:
- A funded and enforceable national action strategy that responds to the learnings from NSW, Tasmania and now Victoria and includes, high level union consultation, compensation to staff who have multiple employers/workplaces and are required to restrict to one, surge workforce principles, staffing requirements and guaranteed supply of PPE and directives on its use.
- Amend the Aged Care Retention Bonus to apply to all aged care staff including catering services, cleaning, administrative and other support staff.
- Funded paid pandemic leave for all aged care workers in the same terms as the Aged Care Award decision. i.e. cover workers on enterprise agreements.
- Take urgent action on service funding, funding accountability and safe staffing now, and don’t wait for the finalisation of the Aged Care Royal Commission.
The HSU is continuing to campaign across the Aged Care, Health and Disability sectors on these issues to ensure that our members on the front line are properly recognised for their work and kept safe through the pandemic.
In Western Australia, the HSU has written to the 12 largest aged care providers calling for their commitment to pay pandemic leave and asking about their preparedness for a supressing any outbreaks in their homes. All 12 companies have enterprise agreements in place, meaning the HSU win on paid pandemic leave that applies to aged care workers under the modern awards (as decided by the Fair Work Commission), does not automatically apply.
Financial Transparency Bill
The HSU has tendered its submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee in support of Senator Griff’s Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Financial Transparency) Bill 2020. The HSU recommends the Committee support the Bill and recommend its passage in the Senate, with some amendments, for greater clarity in expenditure reporting, being sought. Compelling providers under legislation to be transparent about how they allocate public funds should be a priority for Government, as it is for older Australians, aged care workers and the wider community. The HSU has been calling for greater financial transparency for a long time; the sooner expenditure practices of providers are known, the better-informed future reforms will be. You can read the media release here.
Covid-19 Case Studies
The HSU made a COVID-19 submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, referencing case studies of aged care outbreaks in North West Tasmania, NSW, and Victoria. HSU’s submission highlights how the chronic undervaluing and under resourcing of the workforce has had devastating consequences in the pandemic. If ever there has been a moral imperative to improve Australia’s aged care system, it is now – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the findings and authoritative voice of the Royal Commission. The HSU notes that the Royal Commission has cautioned reforms that pre-empt its final report. However, the workforce and older Australians cannot wait. There are measures that can be put in place immediately, and others where implementation may take longer but commitment to them is needed now.
The HSU has provided a further general submission to the Commission focusing on workforce regulation. This follows the HSU’s substantive submission made in October last year. The submission provides a copy of feedback given recently to the Government’s proposed aged care worker regulation scheme and outlines a clarification regarding preferred minimum qualification. General submissions to the Royal Commission have now closed. The Royal Commission is still accepting submissions on the sector’s response to COVID-19, and on specific subject matters relating to hearings still to be held e.g. financing and funding. Thank you to all the members who have provided their time and invaluable feedback over the course of drafting submissions to the Royal Commission. If you have any questions regarding HSU’s submissions, please get in touch.