The United Workers Union (UWU) has cautiously welcomed the Federal Health Minister’s announcement to use the Australian Defence Force to ease aged care staffing woes but has flagged the commitment falls far short of the systemic changes needed in aged care.
According to the Government’s statement only 50 personnel were being readied for each of the four most impacted States – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
While COVID-19 cases in most of Australia are starting to plateau or decline in the community, aged care deaths continue to surge with 1600 new cases and 149 aged care residents dying from COVID-19 last week.
In January, UWU joined other aged care unions and aged care providers in calling for the ADF to help alleviate the staffing crisis.
UWU Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said workers were wary about this latest announcement.
“While the announcements from Morrison and his team are coming thick and fast, the Federal Government still doesn’t have a real plan to address the systemic issues in the aged care industry,” Ms Smith said.
“We have been calling for immediate access to personal protective equipment and Rapid Antigen Tests for aged care workers since the beginning of January, but we are still hearing reports of shortages.
“Workers have been promised a surge workforce before but nothing has really come to fruition.
“The industry is still very much in crisis and I am afraid this is again, too little, and too late.”
UWU is campaigning to make real change in the sector by campaigning the Federal Government to take responsibility and commit to the following:
- A Care Time Guarantee.
- Jobs with time to care.
- A decent wage & recognition of skills.
- Respect for aged care workers in the workplace.
For more information on the campaign please go to unitedworkers.org.au/change-aged-care/.