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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he will not mobilise army forces into aged care homes. Source: Gary Ramage/NewsWire.

Unions call for defence force to support aged care workers

Peak unions and providers have called for the Australian Defence Force to assist workers struggling with rampant COVID-19 outbreaks and staff shortages.

In a joint statement, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) urged the Prime Minister to deploy the ADF to assist “overwhelmed” aged care staff.

”The escalating crisis in aged care has left services around the country reeling, putting care for older Australians at risk due to chronic staffing shortages,” the statement read.

“There is no end in sight yet, and we must plan for things to peak before they get better.”

There are currently more than 7,000 aged care residents infected with COVID-19 in Australia.

Infections are spread across around 1,100 facilities, making up around 40 per cent of the sector.

Peaks have warned that over half of the country’s aged care homes will suffer active outbreaks in the coming weeks.

To relieve pressure on staff, unions have also asked that the government fund additional COVID-19 payments.

“Resignations due to fatigue and feeling undervalued have begun,” the statement read.

“There is no adequate staffing safety net.”

ADF not a ‘surrogate workforce’: PM

Speaking in a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison ruled out the possibility of sending ADF personnel into aged care facilities. 

"[The ADF] can't just make those problems go away, there will continue to be challenges in aged care," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"That is a problem of the virus and it's a problem that has been seen in many jurisdictions."

Army medics and hospital staff were sent into Victorian aged care homes in 2020 to help contain the first wave of the virus.

On Tuesday, federal health minister Greg Hunt announced that private hospital staff may be deployed into nursing homes if state officials request assistance.

“There are 57,000 nurses and over 100,000 staff within the private health and hospital system that are available on that front,” he said.

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