The Federal Government announced that over $2 billion is being invested to "boost" aged care wages.
December 1 marked not only the first day of summer but also a 4.4 per cent increase in the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) to $253.82, effective immediately.
Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells said the $2.194 billion commitment would support residential aged care providers to fund the recent Fair Work Commission's decision to increase the award wage for aged care staff by 5.75 per cent.
"Yet again, the Albanese Government is proving our commitment to aged care, investing more than $2 billion so every aged care home will have the funding to make this wage increase a reality for a deserving care workforce – a workforce that has been undervalued for far too long," Ms Wells said.
"This money is in addition to the $11.3 billion to fund the biggest ever wage increase for aged care workers of 15 per cent."
"Through more funding for aged care homes, better wages for staff and improved care for residents, the Albanese Government is continuing to turn the dial on a safer, more equitable aged care system for generations to come."
Stakeholders have welcomed the funding announcement, with chief of Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) Tom Symondson saying the boost will help the sector as it "struggles with a workforce crisis".
"It’s very clear from the Government’s own data, that the sector’s financial sustainability is at risk," Mr Symondson said.
"Without support to fund the 5.75 per cent increase, which providers passed on in full to their hard-working staff members back in July, many providers would struggle to make ends meet."
"We are pleased the government joins ACCPA in the belief that improving the pay and standing of our workforce will be a key driver of successful aged care reform."
The increase accounts for back pay for the July 1 to November 30 period and ensures aged care homes are funded to pay the increased award wages.
Mr Symondson said the back pay was "extremely welcome".
From 2024, the annual price for AN-ACC will be announced in August and come into effect from October 1 – giving residential aged care providers greater certainty of the funding they will receive.
"This decision is vital to residential aged care providers because it offers greater certainty in the government funding they will receive each year and will resolve the current issue where budgets are set before wage increases are announced, meaning they often do not match,” Mr Symondson said.
The funding will also include $21.5 million for the 24/7 registered nurse supplement, a 3 per cent increase.Do you have an idea for a story?
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