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Minister Sussan Ley

Aged-care minister accused of dismissing pay concerns

The ANMF has added to recent pressure on Health and Aged Care Minister Sussan Ley to address pay and staffing issues in the sector, urging the government to devise a workforce strategy in order to guarantee quality care for aging Australians.

On Tuesday Labor took aim at the minister over comments she made to the Australian newspaper in which she indicated that in her focus in tackling the issues facing the aged care sector would be on “skills and training, not pay”.

“It’s not within my area of res­ponsibility to set wages; previous governments have meddled in this space,” Ley was quoted as saying.

Opposition MPs accused the minister – who added aged care to her health portfolio following industry-wide criticism that the recently reshuffled federal cabinet had neglected the sector - of dismissing pay concerns among aged care workers.

In a joint statement, shadow minister for ageing Shayne Neumann and shadow parliamentary secretary for aged care Senator Helen Polley labelled Ley’s comments as a “flippant” failure to “acknowledge one of the key areas of concern, namely poor rates of pay for workers”.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the ANMF has added to the calls for Ley to rethink her approach to managing aged care’s workforce issues, with acting federal secretary, Annie Butler, calling for greater investment in order to ensure optimum staffing levels.

“The development of a sustainable workforce strategy, including wages and training, must be Minister Ley’s number one priority in aged care,” Butler said.

“The Residential aged care and Home Care 2013-14 report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in September, confirmed the increasing care needs of aged care residents with 83% of people in permanent care needing high-level care, compared to 76% in 2008, and 52% of all people in permanent care with dementia.

“Minister Ley and assistant minister [Ken] Wyatt must recognise that these needs demand a suitably skilled and qualified workforce. Currently, workforce issues continue to compromise the amount of quality care that can be provided to the elderly, whether they be in nursing homes or home settings.”

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