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Retention bonus ‘broken promise’: sector reacts to payment details

Aged care workers and providers are saying the government has broken its promise after it released further details about its retention bonus grant.

In March, Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck announced $234.9 million for a COVID-19 retention bonus that would see direct care workers receive a payment of up to $800 after tax and home care workers get $600 after tax.

However, in a fact sheet released on Friday, the government confirmed that, like the JobKeeper payment, the retention bonus payments “are considered income and are subject to income tax”.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) chief executive Sean Rooney called the move shameful.

“This is a broken promise, a tax turnaround on what was promised in March with great fanfare,” Rooney said.

Annie Butler, federal secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, said its members “are dismayed and disappointed”.

“This bonus was intended to recognise the dedication and commitment aged care workers have continued to show in treating and protecting older Australians during the crisis, potentially putting their own safety and their families’ safety at risk,” Butler said.

On top of the tax issue, the United Workers Union was also disappointed to see that the payment will still not extend beyond direct care workers in residential aged care.

“As sold to the workforce the original intention was that the bonus was to retain staff in the sector at this crucial time and to recognise the hard work aged care workers have been doing on the frontline. But roles including admin staff, cooks, cleaners and facility managers are excluded, leading to division across a facility,” the union’s aged care director, Carolyn Smith, said.

LASA also called on the government to extend the retention bonus to all staff working to protect older Australians receiving care.

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4 comments

  1. I have been working in aged care now for 20 years and have never seen anything like COVID. The amount of extra work that EVERYONE in the facility has done is to be commended. The Government giving some workers a bonus and not the others, not good at all!! I for one have had many extra duties and have been dealing with the families during this time and to not be included makes all my work seem trivial. I hope the Government sees the error in their ways.

    • I have written this to our PM and copy to the my Premier, & Local Government:

      Dear Prime Minister,
      I am the Lifestyle Coordinator, working full time at a Residential Aged Care home in Victoria, and am advised that I am NOT eligible for the aged care retention payments you have promised, as apparently, I am not technically ‘a direct carer’. With all due respect, I would like to state something that I thought was obvious:
      It takes a multidisciplinary team to support and care for our Residents, each and every one as valuable and important as the other. In fact, YOUR Aged Care Quality standards, which I support, require and expect this!!
      I would be happy to tell you about the direct care that myself and our Lifestyle staff provide each and every day to our Residents to ensure their social, emotional, spiritual, physical and cognitive needs, goals and preferences are met. And about all the community and cultural connections and programs I organise, and often facilitate, as either incursions or excursion. My works purpose is to support our Residents to continue to live an engaging and meaningful life, as independently as possible, while maintaining their identity, and living a life that they wish to live.
      But I probably do not need to tell you this, as your Quality Assessors visit our homes and talk to our Residents, their families and our staff, and check to make sure we are doing all of this. In fact, your Quality Assessors recently visited my home (facility), and we met every standard, and received great feedback from them, a lot of which related to the lifestyle, catering, cleaning and admin team’s roles in directly and holistically caring for our Residents.
      Instead, I believe I need to highlight the fact that the COVID-19 virus has not discriminated between carers, lifestyle, kitchen, cleaning, admin and other staff. We are all paid lowly, working under extreme pressure, having to immediately adapt to the ever-changing policies and procedures to ensure we keep this virus at bay. We are all feeling scared, by the possibility of one positive test result, and of taking the illness into our home (facility), and/or home to our families. We look to the horrendous events in other Countries, and even in NSW, and the idea of a COVID-19 outbreak is utterly terrifying to all of us providing care, yet we all carry on because that is our job and we truly care about our Residents, each and every one of them. I believe it is therefore necessary to incentivise the whole team equally, else I fear you will create a division, the cost of which will be far greater than the value of the retention payments.
      So, I implore you to extend the definition of “direct carers” eligible to your aged care retention support payments initiative, to include all staff who work in Aged Care homes.
      I look forward to your response.
      Sincerely,
      Karen Barrie

    • Totally agree Jennifer!
      I’ve been in Aged Care for 18 years and have exactly the same sentiments!

  2. Otelia Vanstone

    Of course I’ve already taken a very modest position on the monetary system, I do take the position that we should just end the Fed. — Ron Paul

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