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Aged care worker shortage — the solution is simple

Your aged care depends on the availability of people to care for you. Where will they come from?

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The federal government has launched a national campaign, A Life Changing Life, encouraging more people to consider careers in care and support work. 

It’s a great idea and a useful tool, with an emphasis on encouraging people from different communities to explore entering the care sector. 

However, it doesn’t appear to set a budget or spell out any strategies, including training. Sadly, the targeted communities do not include the most obvious — Australians aged 50-plus wanting to work. 

That’s where National Seniors Australia can help. And we urge the government to implement our sensible and practical solution to the worker-shortage crisis, specifically in the home-care sector. 

In our Federal Budget submission we spell out the problem — demand for care workers is continuing to outstrip supply.  

We want the government to invest in training people aged 50-plus to work in the home-care sector. We estimate such a training program would provide 2,000 mature-age workers a year.

Importantly, older people on the Age Pension or looking to go on the pension should not be penalised for working more. The government will need to scrap its current Age Pension income test rules.

How it works

Working with care providers, the government would meet the cost of providing 2,000 traineeships a year. The program would be based on the successful South Australian pilot traineeship scheme, which links older workers with a home-care provider.

Traineeship program benefits

  • Meets the growing shortfall for home care workers. 

  • Encourages people to work in home care. 

  • Provides greater income and superannuation for older people, particularly women. 

  • Provides care recipients with access to mature and sympathetic workers—as is their preference.

Why older traineeships are needed

Seniors receiving care in their homes, and care providers, prefer mature-aged care workers. Reasons include commitment, reliability, eagerness to learn, and compatibility. 

  • Demand. Australia needs 400,000 extra care workers by 2050. 

  • Mature-aged workers are not adequately serviced by existing training programs. The current Restart program is a failure with limited take-up of its $10,000 subsidies. 

  • Seniors want to work. ABS figures show 233,000 people aged 50-69 want to work either full or part time (they are not in the labour force, not retired and not currently employed).  

  • The ratio of workers to retirees is declining — the old age dependency ratio (of working-age people to those over 65) is projected to fall from 4:1 in 2019-20 to 2.7:1 in 2060-61. 

You can find out more about the seniors’ traineeship program initiative here

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