More than half of the country’s aged care workers are yet to receive their first $400 cash bonus from the government, almost two months after it was first announced.
In early February, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced eligible workers would be given two payments of $400 – the first in February, and the second at the beginning of May – to help retain staff.
Health officials told Senate estimates that as of Monday, applications from 499 out of 945 aged care providers had so far been processed.
The government has given those providers $55m to distribute to an estimated 95,000 workers, less than half of the 265,000 eligible for the program.
The inquiry was told approvals are expected to rise to 699 by the end of the week, equating to 133,000 total workers.
Last week, the United Workers Union questioned why aged care workers were being “let down” with delays in rolling out the cash payment.
The union surveyed more than 1000 aged care workers, many of whom expressed their anger at the failure of the program.
National aged care director Carolyn Smith said the government had further angered workers.
“More than 900 older Australians have died from Covid in aged care facilities this year,” Smith said.
“Yet more than seven weeks since the $800 bonus program was announced and more than three weeks since it was launched, 97 per cent of aged care workers say they have no bonus.
“To further illustrate the repeated failures aged care workers … face … 77 per cent say they have received no information about the bonus.”
In February, Morrison said the payments were an extension of a cash incentive scheme rolled out earlier in the pandemic.
Morrison said the payments were effectively retention payments.
“What we’re doing here is helping the aged care providers give that support to aged care workers during this pandemic to be able to keep up with them there working in those facilities, which is incredibly important,” the prime minister said at the time.
He added aged care and home care workers had been imperative to the health outcomes of Australia during Covid.
“Of course, none of our health outcomes would be possible without the hard work, long hours and dedicated care offered by our frontline health and aged care workforce,” Morrison said.
“Their resilience over the past two years has been inspiring.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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