As with other vocational sectors that have high levels of female participation, there’s no doubt that the commitment of aged-care staff is too often taken for granted and too often used to hold down wages and conditions.
Mr Wilson (4:10pm) — This Wednesday is Thank You For Working In Aged Care Day. In the last week I’ve been fortunate enough to visit two aged-care facilities in my electorate and to meet some of the wonderful, dedicated staff who make up this workforce. As with other vocational sectors that have high levels of female participation, there’s no doubt that the commitment of aged-care staff is too often taken for granted and too often used to hold down wages and conditions. And that’s wrong. Like early childhood education, aged care is a distinctive and critical labour of love, precisely because the very young and the very old represent special and vulnerable groups in our community. Caring for the oldest and the youngest Australians starts with caring for the people who work in those sectors.
I have been privileged to meet with United Voice aged-care delegates, to understand their experiences and to hear their stories—stories of carers being so rushed by rising client-to-carer ratios that they don’t have the time to help people do basic things like wash their hair; and stories of staff reaching into their own pockets to buy basic toiletries, or linen, or even clothing. It shouldn’t be like that in Australia in 2018. It cannot be like that in the future. We need a government that puts the right resources and framework in place to ensure that aged-care workers get the pay and conditions that reflect the vital work they do. Unfortunately, that’s not the government we’ve got currently.
But to every person working in the sector, I say: thank you. What you do matters. What you do is valued. And we need to support you better.