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Lutheran Services has become one of the first in the sector to join the federal government's Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement, which aims to help alleviate critical workforce shortages by attracting overseas skilled carers.

Qld aged care joins labour migration program

Queensland aged care provider Lutheran Services has joined the federal government's Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement.

The agreement aims to help alleviate critical workforce shortages by attracting skilled carers from overseas.

As part of a five-year agreement, Lutheran Services will provide workers with a full-time position and access to a two-year pathway to permanent residency.

Chief of Lutheran Services Nick Ryan said the provider was confident that the agreement would be pivotal in building its skilled workforce.

"We need to adopt new approaches to recruitment like the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement in order to keep pace with the changing needs of an ageing population and the increasingly complex compliance landscape," he said.

"Lutheran Services applied to be part of this agreement to ensure we left no stone unturned in our approach to attracting staff and delivering the highest quality of care and services for our residents.

"This agreement will streamline the process of recruiting overseas care workers for our aged care communities throughout Queensland, including in regional areas."

The Labour Agreement has three categories of staff that will be hired to "immediately address the workforce shortage, " including nursing support workers, personal care assistants, and aged or disabled carers.

Mr Ryan said skilled workers from countries outside of the Pacific could also apply.

"This agreement offers fast-tracked visa processing and the potential for a two-year pathway to permanent residency in Australia.

"As an organisation, we look forward to seeing the benefits this program will offer our residents, the opportunities it will create for aged care workers internationally, and the contribution it will make to creating a sustainable aged care workforce in Australia into the future."

Demand for the sector is increasing; however, workforce issues such as attracting and retaining workers are also an issue.

The 2023 Ideagen Aged Care Workforce Report found one in five workers felt the 200-minute per resident mandate was impossible to achieve.

The report also found that 30 per cent of the respondents surveyed planned to leave the aged care sector in the next three years and 49 per cent in the next five.

Executive director of skills assessment service VETASSESS Robert Thomason said a solution to the workforce shortages could lie in strengthened labour agreements with different countries.

"We have networks which we have established in India, and we believe that we could attract into Australia some 1000 workers into the aged care facility," Mr Thomason told Aged Care Insite.

"If successful in India, we believe this model could move into other geographic jurisdictions.

"We also feel it could move into other areas of skills needs."

During an inquiry last October, global immigration leader and expert in immigration law Maria Jockel said the visa would be a solution for the dwindling aged care workforce.

"All the papers provided to government, be they from CEDA [Committee for Economic Development of Australia] or other sources, show that the Australian demographics are such that we will continue to rely on migration as both an economic and a population tool," she said.

"The Intergenerational Report has projected a doubling of 65-year-olds, tripling of 85-year-olds, and centenarians increasing sixfold.

"Health and aged-care spending as a share of GDP is projected to increase to a total of 3.4 per cent while at the same time the number of taxpayers is halved. This is just not sustainable."

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