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Thousands of workers still waiting on first $400 cash payment

·Personal Finance Editor
·2-min read
Cash payments: A person holds a stack of $50 notes.
Thousands of aged care workers have complained about the poor rollout of the cash payment scheme. (Source: Getty)

Thousands of aged care workers are still waiting on their first $400 cash payment promised to them back in February.

Health officials told the Senate Estimates Committee that applications from only 499 of the 945 aged care providers had been processed so far.

Around $55 million has been distributed to around 95,000 workers - less than half of the 265,000 workers eligible for the payments.

In a United Workers Union survey of more than 1,000 aged care workers, many expressed their anger at the failure of the program to offer speedy bonuses.

“This federal government bonus has further angered aged care workers, rather than giving them the timely reward they deserve for working through Omicron,” National Aged Care director Carolyn Smith said in a statement.

Smith said of those surveyed, 77 per cent of aged care workers reported they had not received any information about the bonus.

“Aged care workers were failed in the vaccination program, they were failed with PPE, they were left to fend for themselves during Omicron - working repeated double shifts - and now they have been failed in the bonus program,” she said.

“Aged care workers haven’t been fooled. This bonus doesn’t even touch the sides on the chronic understaffing, the outrageous workloads and the lack of time to care that existed even before COVID.”

Smith said “repeated failures” by the Government had led to aged care workers taking steps towards strike action.

A South Australian aged care worker told the union: “Whilst the bonus is appreciated, it seems more like the Government just wants us to be quiet about the stress we face daily as carers, the lack of staff to residents and our pathetic pay rates.”

An industry plagued by problems

The Federal Government released the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in March last year which included nearly 150 recommendations including higher pay.

Experts have warned that Australia will face a shortage of 110,000 aged care workers by 2031, and 400,000 by 2050 if drastic action isn’t taken.

The Morrison Government announced the payments were an extension of a cash incentive scheme rolled out earlier in the pandemic.

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