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Australia more reliant on foreign-born workers: study

The number of foreign-born care workers in Australia has increased considerably in recent years and understanding migration patterns is critical to addressing aged-care workforce challenges, a study has found.

The research from the University of Sydney, titled Foreign-born Aged Care Workers in Australia: A growing trend, showed that, in 2011, the majority of care workers were Australia-born followed by those born in the UK, South-East Asia and South Asia.

“While the number of carers from all regions has grown, the increase from 2006 to 2011 has been highest for carers from South Asia (333 per cent increase) and sub-Saharan Africa (145 per cent),” the report stated. “In 2011, Western Australia had the highest proportion of foreign-born carers in Australia, with 51 per cent of the workforce being foreign-born.”

Study co-author Joel Negin, from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, said this trend would probably continue. “The total number of aged-care workers between 2006 and 2011, both Australia-born and foreign-born, increased by 36 per cent, according to the census … and obviously if that increase continues, a good chunk of that is going to be foreign-born,” he said.

The study’s authors said a deeper understanding of the current care workforce is needed, especially given estimated increases in demand.

Negin sat down with Aged Care Insite to discuss the effects insights into the migration patterns of care workers might have on workforce planning, the opportunities and challenges an increasingly diverse workforce presents, and how migration data could be used to improve care.

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