Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said the government would argue for a significant and meaningful pay rise for workers in the sector.
The Fair Work Commission is considering whether to lift the pay rates for residential and home care workers following the findings of the royal commission into aged care.
Labor minister Tanya Plibersek said her government would fund a pay rise increase, should the commission make that ruling to help fix the workforce shortage in aged care.
“The government will find the extra money we need,” she told the Seven Network on Monday.
“You’ve got to think about what aged care workers are earning at the moment: they’re earning as little as $22 an hour so you can literally earn more stacking shelves at a supermarket than caring for some of our most vulnerable Australians.
“We can’t find enough staff to work in aged care. One of the reasons is that … they can’t afford to keep working in aged care because can’t pay the bills on 22 bucks an hour.”
While unions are advocating for at least a 25 per cent pay rise for aged care employees, Wells said the government’s submission would not have a number attached to it.
She said the Albanese government pledged to fund whatever decision the commission came to in relation to aged care wages.
“The kind of work that we want them to do based on the royal commission recommendations for aged care, for a better standard and a better future … is more complex work so they should be recognised for that,” Wells told Sky News on Sunday.
“We need to do something to value aged care workers better and that starts with a pay rise.”
Wells acknowledged pressures on the federal budget mean any wage increases must be meaningful yet sustainable.
“We have to improve the standard of care but we have to do it in a sustainable way … these reforms have to outlast us all,” she said.
Laws responding to the recommendations of the aged care royal commission were the first to pass parliament under the new Labor government.
When asked if she would back a pay rise, Opposition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume said the government’s proposed increases needed to be reasonable .
“We know that aged care workers are some of the lowest paid workers in the land, but we also want to make sure that if they do get a pay rise, the system is sustainable,” she told Sky News.
“That the aged cared system can stand up under the weight of that increased cost to their businesses.”Jump to next article