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Employment White Paper: encouraging signal for real reform

While the introduction of a one-off up-front $4,000 Work Bonus for new pensioners will become permanent from 2024, it must go further to support jobs in key areas such as care and support.

National Seniors Australia is encouraged by the government’s Employment White Paper and what it signals for workforce participation.

Our submission to the Employment White Paper called for the government to adopt policies that support greater workforce participation. This included reducing the income test taper rate from 50 cents to 32.5 cents in the dollar for pensioners who want and need to work.  

“National Seniors welcomes the government making the up-front $4,000 Work Bonus permanent for all new pensioners. It shows the government is willing to listen, but it must go further,” Chief Advocate Mr Ian Henschke said.

“The government could reduce the barriers to workforce participation by trialling a targeted reduction in the income test taper rate for workers in the care sector. Across the health care and social assistance sector there are around 73,000 job vacancies.

“Demand for care and support workers is set to double by 2050. According to the National Skills Commission, we will face a shortfall of 211,000 workers (full-time equivalent) by 2050. How are we going to meet demand in the future if we don’t act now to change the policy settings?

“Older people are dealing with these desperate shortages now. By 2050, it will be their children. They deserve to know someone is going to be there for them, at a time when they need it the most.  

“If the carers aren’t there, the care isn’t there. The consequences of this are far more costly than implementing our policy.”  

Deloitte modelling shows reducing barriers to workforce participation for pensioners would be a win for government and a win for the economy. 

Mr Henschke said National Seniors Australia’s policy has the full support of the ACTU, the Health Services Union, and the National Farmers Federation. Implementing it makes good social and economic sense and is especially important for those and their loved ones needing care.

“The White Paper is a forerunner to real reform, and we look forward to the release of the National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy,” he said.  

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