Aged care nurses will receive $3,700 bonus payments in a bid to encourage more Australians to take up the role, and remain in the workforce.
Full-time registered nurses will be eligible for two separate $3,700 payments in 2022 and 2023, provided they have stayed with the same aged care provider for at least 12 months.
In order to receive the payments in both years, they need to have been working for the same provider over the following time periods:
• 1 November 2021 – 31 October 2022
• 1 November 2022 – 31 October 2023.
Those who take on roles in rural or remote Australia will be eligible for another $2,300, as will those who have a postgraduate qualification or other leadership responsibilities.
Part-time and casual nurses will also be eligible for a pro-rata payment, with the average bonus estimated to be around $2,700 a year.
The payments will be made after the closing date for each eligibility providers, and will be made through aged care providers who will apply for the bonuses on behalf of staff members. The payments are considered taxable income.
Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said the $135.6 million bonus plan recognised the need for a consistent aged care workforce.
“We hope it encourages aged care nurses to continue working with older Australians and incentivises nurses in other sectors to explore a career in aged care,” he said.
“Aged care nursing is a rewarding and sustainable career path, and the Government is supporting the workforce to grow and skill. The payment will help to attract and retain skilled, compassionate and professional registered nurses to aged care.”
An industry plagued by problems
The payments were first announced in the 2021-22 Federal Budget as part of a $17.7 billion five-year package to lift standards across the system.
The CEDA report released in August found that these are conservative predictions, with the shortage likely to be even more severe.
This is partly due to an ageing population and a lack of desirable working conditions.
One in five Australians will be older than 65 by 2031, placing greater pressure on the system.
At the same time, one in five workers are already prepared to leave the sector by September 2022 due to low pay and high stress.
A separate CompliSpace report warned 47,000 workers are on their way out. Some aged care workers make less than $40,000 a year, or $21.62 an hour.
If the Australian Fair Work Commission agrees to an application to increase aged care workers’ pay by up to 25 per cent, that would mean workers’ minimum wage would increase to $27.03 an hour.
"We pay more to those who stack our supermarket shelves than those who care for some of the most vulnerable Australians in society," CompliSpace CEO David Griffiths said.
"This creates an unforeseen public policy crisis for the Australian government, the more than 800 providers of communal aged care facilities, and families who are looking at options for care in the years ahead."
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