Aged care body calls for $4b annual wages injection

The Health Services Union, which lodged the case before the industrial umpire, is calling for a 25 per cent pay rise, which, if successful, would take the wage for a qualified personal carer from $23.09 to $28.86 an hour.

The union previously commissioned modelling that showed the cost of reform was between $2 billion and $20 billion over four years, and included improvements to the sector other than wages. It included only the rise of personal carer wages in that modelling.

UnitingCare’s modelling takes in only the cost of wage rises, but does so for nurses and personal carers. It is estimated to be equivalent to a 25 per cent pay rise for staff, but the network is not directly advocating for that figure to be broadly applied.

Aged care providers uniformly support a pay rise for their workers, but no major bodies within the sector have backed a specific figure.

Evergreen Life Care, a single-site provider of 147 units in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, has in its submission backed an increase in line with the HSU’s recommendations, which it says should be fully funded by the government.


HSU national president Gerard Hayes said it was “heartening” to see employer groups such as UnitingCare support higher wages for workers.

“Of course, the flip side is that if and when this funding flows, all employers in the sector must commit to fuller hours, proper job security and genuine career development,” Mr Hayes said.

“Older Australians are entering residential aged care with increasingly complex physical, social and emotional needs, in part driven by increasing rates of dementia. A starting pay rate of $21.96 per hour is simply unacceptable.”

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