We did it! HSU Aged Care workers did it!

  • Published April 11, 2024

In March, the Fair Work Commission approved – in what is already being hailed as a landmark decision – wage increases of up to 28.5 per cent across the aged care sector!

This is a massive win for a workforce that for too long has been disrespected – facing insecure work and poor pay that didn’t reflect their professionalism, skills or dedication.

Direct care workers will receive between 15 per cent and 28 per cent. This is inclusive of a 15 per cent pay rise awarded to workers in Stage 1 of the HSU’s Work Value Case. 

Indirect care workers such as laundry hands, cleaners, and food services assistants will receive a pay increase of 6.96 per cent. This is made up of their classification being increased from Level 2 to Level 3 in the Aged Care Award structure and a pay increase of 3 per cent. Other indirect care workers will receive a pay increase of 3 per cent.

How’d we get here?

This  win only came about because aged care workers came together, grew the union in their workplaces and stood up and said, “Our work is important - it needs to be valued!”.

Across the aged care sector HSU membership has grown by leaps and bounds as more and more workers come together and demand change.

It’s that growth – more and more members coming to meetings, gathering together in tearooms and having conversations about what needs to change – that meant workers achieved this win!

The journey

This is the culmination of a decade-long campaign to recognise the important work of aged care workers. When members started lobbying federal politicians in 2012, led by HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes and Vice President Lindy Twyford, there were few who would hear their arguments.

It took years of political campaigning and conversations to wear down this resistance and place aged care squarely on the national agenda. Punctuated by the Our Turn To Care campaign, Thank You For Working In Aged Care Day, and countless individual conversations with community members and decision makers, it’s been a hard slog. But never did HSU members question the importance of what they were doing.

In 2020, the HSU launched a Work Value Case in the Fair Work Commission. The application sought to increase the rates of pay for all aged care workers covered by the Aged Care Award by 25 per cent.

In December 2022, the Fair Work Commission issued a decision for an ‘interim increase’ of 15 per cent for some ‘direct care’ workers, finding that the rates of pay did “not properly compensate workers…for the value of the work performed.”

The Fair Work Commission called for more evidence about the work of ‘indirect care’ workers and further hearings were held in December 2023.

HSU aged care members continued to fight, speaking before Fair Work hearings to outline the challenging and difficult jobs they do every day and demand a fair pay rise for everyone.

Major win!

Secretary Gerard Hayes called the ruling “a historic improvement” that would usher in “a new era of decency and dignity”.

For too long the sector has been held together by the goodwill of a majorly underpaid and insecurely employed workplace.

But now, HSU members have stood up and won!

The fight goes on!

HSU members will keep fighting, so that every worker in the aged care sector is respected and valued at work. We’re pushing to ensure that the new Award is in place as soon as possible, for members to receive the new pay rates.

HSU members will also continue to fight for fairer pay and conditions for all aged care employees, regardless of classification. That means campaigning for improvements in all our workplaces, in our enterprise agreements and across the sector.

Stay active and united in the fight to change aged care!