Aged care workers too poor to repair their cars or pay medical bills are demanding a wage rise in the wake of a damning Royal Commission report into substandard aged care. 

The United Workers Union wants aged care staff with a Certificate III qualification - many of whom earn $24 an hour - little more than the minimum wage of $20 an hour- to be granted a $4 an hour wage rise to $28.87 an hour. 

"The award rates of pay for many aged care workers are half the average Australian's rate of pay,'' the union's aged care director, Carolyn Smith, told News Corp Australia.

"Aged care workers tasked with the vital job of giving quality care to older Australians often don't earn enough to make ends meet.

"They go without car repairs, clothing and surgery.''

The Royal Commission revealed that one in three elderly Australians receive "substandard care'' in nursing homes.

It warned that Australia's aged care system is "understaffed and the workforce underpaid and undertrained''.

"Inadequate staffing levels, skill mix and training are principal causes of substandard care in the current system,'' the report states.

Aged care workers need a pay rise. Picture: Thinkstock
Aged care workers need a pay rise. Picture: Thinkstock

"The sector has difficulty attracting and retaining well-skilled people due to low wages and poor employment conditions … and no career pathways.

"All too often, and despite best intentions, aged care workers simply do not have the requisite time, knowledge, skill and support to deliver high-quality care.''

The Federal Government is considering a Medicare-style levy to fund reforms to aged care, which already receives $20 billion a year in taxpayer spending.

A snap survey of 600 union members following the report's release last Monday found that most staff believe aged care providers will pocket any extra money.

Three quarters of workers felt they would not get a pay rise.

One worker told the union survey that "extra funds will go straight into the providers' pockets (with) little if any gain for us''.

Another called on the federal government to monitor how taxpayers' money is spent.

"I think all the extra money will go into administration and audits, nothing towards the actual care of residents or workers,'' the carer said.

An enrolled nurse told the union that "most training is online which is not as good as face-to-face''.



Aged care workers warned last week of chronic short-staffing, revealing they were often "too rushed'' to speak to residents while giving them a shower.

Edith Cowan University Associate Professor Ben Farr-Wharton has revealed that aged care workers caring for vulnerable elderly Australians are paid less than cleaners.

"It goes without saying that aged care workers do much more than clean,'' he wrote in The Conversation.

"The job is substantially more complex and demanding, both physically and emotionally.''


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Originally published as Aged care staff demand pay rise of $4 an hour

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