Stop demonising aged care workers

Aged care workers are doing an incredible job keeping our most vulnerable safe. This is the headline we should be seeing. This is the headline you deserve to be reading.

I know that many of you have been watching the reports coming out of SummitCare Baulkham Hills and feeling a sense of dismay about how workers are being portrayed, and compassion for those workers who are now in isolation. I want you to know we’ve been in contact with our members at SummitCare Baulkham Hills and are providing them with support and advice.

However, more broadly I am deeply concerned that the demonising of aged care workers is having an impact of the morale amongst the workforce. It has got to stop.

Here is a statement I made publicly today:

Today I’ve written to the Minister for Health about my concerns about the lack of support the Federal Government has provided to aged care workers since announcing mandatory vaccinations. The Federal Government’s announcement was designed to make aged care workers take the blame for its failed rollout and now we see the press jump on that bandwagon.

I have called on the Federal Government to provide:

  • A full risk assessment on the implications of mandatory vaccinations on workforce levels if there is an exodus of workers and no one to replace them
  • Every aged care worker with the choice of vaccine
  • Accessible information in the workplace
  • Access to “in house” vaccinations or paid leave for workers to attend a vaccination clinic and to recover

This is the least the Federal Government can do.

I want to also acknowledge that another huge dent in morale has been the decision by many employers to offer low wage increases this July and take away your right to bargain yet again. This was going to be a major discussion at our annual conference next week, which has had to be postponed until November. We can’t wait till then to determine our strategy in fighting for the right to bargain. If you are interested in getting involved in an industry-wide meeting, please register at agedcare@hsu.asn.au.

Finally, you and your colleagues have been on the frontline since February last year – despite the Federal Government, and the media, and the low wages. On behalf of the HSU, I want to thank each and every one of you.