Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced two new bonus payments worth up to $400 each for aged care workers, including those providing cleaning services.
The bonus will be paid to more than 230,000 workers providing care and support in government subsidised home care and to residential aged care workers.
The payments will be for clinical care workers and expanded to all those providing direct care, food or cleaning services in government subsidised residential care.
Minister for Health and Aged Greg Hunt said the payments acknowledged the response of the aged care workforce to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.
“These workers have been caring for those who have been most at risk through the pandemic and their dedication has been outstanding.”
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the payments will provide additional encouragement to continue working through the pandemic and will help to attract additional workers into aged care.
Workers employed on 28 February 2022 will receive a bonus payment of up to $400, with another instalment of up to $400 made to workers employed on 28 April 2022.
Aged care providers will apply for the payments and will pass on the assessment to employees.
Carolyn Smith, aged care director, United Workers Union, said the announcement is a welcome relief, but more needs to be done to support workers.
“In particular, the union is pleased that the bonus has been extended to include all aged care workers, including catering and cleaning staff, as well as care workers,” Smith said.
“The aged care industry is at absolute breaking point, and I am not sure these bonuses will fix the systemic issues in the industry.
“Aged care workers are struggling with low pay, understaffing and the poor rollout of COVID-19 response by Scott Morrison. The fact that workers are still not receiving regular RATs and adequate PPE is indicative of the federal government’s failure in this area.
“Although we do welcome Scott Morrison’s admission that aged care wages need to be substantially improved, something we have been saying for a long time now.”
In a joint statement issued by the Australian Aged Care Collaboration, ACTU, ANMF, AWU, UWU and HSU, the organisations said the announcement of two pro rata payments of up to $400 “is grossly inadequate and it remains to be seen how this short-term payment will prevent a feared exodus of staff from the frontline.”
“The escalating crisis in aged care due to the Omicron surge has left aged care workers experiencing extraordinary levels of worker stress as they do their very best to meet residents’ needs, while being dangerously understaffed, working double shifts and endure long hours in personal protective equipment,” the joint statement said.
“Aged care staff are exhausted and burnt out, with many working for days around the clock. Resignations due to fatigue and feeling undervalued continue to devastate the sector. We need an ongoing COVID-19 payment to be paid on each shift to recognise and incentivise aged care workers.
“Aged care staff are working hard to provide care in very challenging circumstances and with limited resources. They are on the frontline of the fight against COVID, caring for the most vulnerable in our society. A largely female dominated workforce, they must be appropriately recognised and supported to win this fight.”
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