The findings of the 2016 Aged Care Workforce Survey have been released today and paint a picture of an industry plagued by stress, insecure hours, and inadequate pay.
Home support worker and E tū delegate Tamara Baddeley lives this every day.
“The finds of the survey totally reflect what all support workers in rest home, residential, community and disability sectors deal with day to day,” Tamara says.
Tamara currently earns $16.15 even though she has been working in community support for nearly 17 years. She has Level 3 and palliative care training.
“Current pay rates in no way reflect how stressful and emotionally draining this important work often is. Especially when patients die suddenly – we deal with that all the time.
“Add that to the regular stress of being a low wage worker in any job. One car repair bill can throw your budget out the window. Then you need to bus between patients, or walk in the rain, or use up precious annual leave to sort it out.”
Tamara knows that the only way wages and conditions in the industry have improved is by workers joining their unions and being active around their issues.
“The introduction of guaranteed hours will give us a safety net; however, patients’ and residents’ needs will change continually, which means we will need to renegotiate our guaranteed hours on an on-going basis.
“The Equal Pay settlement is a long overdue acknowledgement of the skills and responsibilities we have. We couldn’t have got there without strong unions and support from members’ families and the wider community.
“When people find out what we get paid, they wonder why we don’t just chuck it in and do something that gives us a better wage and more family time.
“But for most workers, we do the job because we enjoy the job and we care about our patients.”