12 May 2021

One thing is clear from the government's budget: they've never spoken to a worker in their lives. I spent this morning with aged-care workers and nurses and—do you know what?—they feel so let down.

The Liberals' aged-care response falls way short of the most crucial issue of aged care, and that is the workforce. The Prime Minister refused to accept the royal commission recommendations that require a registered nurse on every shift, 24/7. They work with carers who are looking after very frail people with multiple serious life-threatening conditions and they help others approach the end of life pain free and with dignity.

For the workers themselves, there wasn't even a half-hearted attempt to fix the wages and conditions of carers and nurses in the sector. They've kicked the can down the road on an increase in minutes of care—that is, how much time they actually get to spend with their residents—and there's to be no increase in those minutes of care for two years. They've failed to implement a workforce plan, and so many other recommendations are not going to be taken up by the government in this budget. There's a half-hearted attempt to require auditing and public disclosure of taxpayers' money, with $10 extra per resident being given to providers but no hard requirements that that money be spent on food, extra care or even the staffing that is so desperately needed right now. They have let aged-care workers down.