Home | News | ‘Entitled to get a better job’: Turnbull on hypothetical aged care worker

‘Entitled to get a better job’: Turnbull on hypothetical aged care worker

“The 60-year-old aged care worker in Burnie is entitled to aspire to get a better job, is entitled to get a promotion, is entitled to be able to earn more money.”

This is the phrase Malcolm Turnbull uttered in Parliament question time yesterday that has drawn the ire of Labor and has aged care groups working again to boost the perception of the sector.

Turnbull was responding to questioning from Labor about his personal income tax plans, in particular, to a query from opposition leader Bill Shorten about whether a hypothetical 60-year-old aged care worker in Burnie, Tasmania, should aspire to be an investment banker from Rose Bay to get a better tax cut.

Following his initial reply and some jeers from fellow politicians, Turnbull added: "No. Working in aged care is a good job, but you are entitled to seek to earn more.

"Every worker, every Australian is entitled to aspire to earn a better income."

Shorten took to Twitter afterwards to say that same aged care worker “shouldn't have to ‘get a better job’ to get a better tax cut, or a modicum of respect” from the prime minister.

Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) took the statements as an opportunity to urge young Australians to aspire to a career in aged care, highlighting recent reports of high job satisfaction and demand for new blood.

Contrary to the views expressed in parliament, the aged care industry is made up largely of individuals who gain huge personal satisfaction from their efforts working tirelessly to improve the lives of older Australians, chief executive Pat Sparrow said.

ACSA pointed to a recent HESTA report drawing on the super fund's more than 200,000 members working in the space.

While the report, Transforming Aged Care – reimagining the aged care workforce of tomorrow, found the aged care sector is facing a potential shortfall of 80,000 workers over the next five years, the majority (77 per cent) of workers surveyed indicated that they intend to remain in the sector for the long term.

HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said aged care employees spoke of how rewarding they found caring for Australia’s elders. “[They spoke] of special moments shared, of wanting to make a difference, or simply the power of being there to listen.”

In keeping with the demand for workers projected in the HESTA report, recent SEEK data revealed that jobs in community services & development was the second-strongest area of job ad growth in the year to April, 2018.

Healthcare experienced a 19 per cent increase in job ads in April compared with 12 months prior. SEEK put this down to substantial growth in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation, and aged care nursing job ads.

Sparrow said: “High demand for aged care workers is a stand-out feature of our labour market and will be one of the most durable trends in employment in coming decades.

“If young Australians aspire to a job that offers the rewards of genuine human care and contact as well as the bonus of a high degree of reliability in demand for their work into the future, then we urge them to aspire to a career in aged care.”

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