25 March 2024

More nurses in aged care

Ms WELLS (Lilley—Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport) (14:50): I thank the member for Jagajaga for her question. I know she cares very deeply about ensuring that the hardworking carers in her electorate are valued and are able to provide a higher standard of care for older Australians. That's why the Albanese government wants all workers, including aged-care workers, to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. Strong, sustainable wage growth is how Australians overcome cost-of-living challenges, not what causes them. That's why we backed aged-care workers in their fight for better wages at the Fair Work Commission, and we delivered a 15 per cent increase to the award wage minimum for 250,000 workers across this country. That is an $11.3 billion investment in people who dedicate their working lives to caring for our most vulnerable people. Under the Albanese government, personal care workers are now taking home an additional $141 per week, or $7,000 a year. Registered nurses are now taking home an additional $196 per week, just shy of $10,000 per year. That extra money coming in every week is changing the lives of workers and the people they care for. Manisha is an aged-care worker at Arrunga Uniting in Ermington, in the electorate of the member for Bennelong. When she first started working in aged care she was an assistant in nursing—an incredibly valued position. While working as an assistant in nursing, Manisha studied a bachelor of nursing to become a registered nurse. Manisha told me that the aged-care pay rise has empowered her to plan more for her future. She now wants to get her master's and continue her career, her whole life, working in aged care. That is what happens when you invest in workers and value their skills and their experience. Our investment in workers like Manisha is not just changing her life; it is changing the lives of the older people she cares for. We have just published the latest 24/7 nursing data for February, and today I can share that the number of registered nurses in aged care in Australia has again increased. There is now a registered nurse in aged care on site 98.79 per cent of the time in Australia; 90.02 per cent of aged-care homes now have a registered nurse on site 24/7, with the majority of the remaining homes very close to 24/7 RN coverage. That is an achievement that those opposite didn't even dream of attempting in government, let alone legislating for and let alone budgeting for. Under the Albanese government, older people are receiving an additional 2.16 million minutes of care every single day. There has been a reduction in the number of pressure injuries, in the number of physical restraints, in the amount of significant unplanned weight loss, in the number of falls, in polypharmacy and in the use of antipsychotics in aged care.