Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
That this House:
(1) notes the Government's commitment to restore dignity to aged care residents;
(2) recognises that the Government is:
(a) delivering on the commitment to put nurses back into nursing homes with 24 hours a day, seven days a week nursing care;
(b) delivering a record 15 per cent pay increase for aged care workers across Australia, the largest ever pay rise in the history of the aged care sector;
(c) delivering support for older Australians who live in aged care homes, so that they are receiving the safe, high-quality care they deserve; and
(d) working to ensure older Australians have tasty and nutritious food in aged care; and
(3) acknowledges this is just part of the Government's commitment to significant new investments to rebuild universal healthcare in Australia.
From day one, the Albanese Labor government have been focused on delivering on our commitment to strengthen aged care and improve the pay and working conditions of our aged-care workers right across the nation. For too long, those working in aged care have been asked to work harder for longer without enough reward. The Albanese Labor government understands this and is working hard to better support our aged-care workers. I'm pleased to move, and speak on, this motion, as this federal government has wasted no time in getting on with the job.
Our aged-care workers are some of the hardest-working Australians in this country. They are undertaking important work in caring for our older Australians who helped build the nation that we all enjoy today—a nation which is inclusive, diverse and strong and which looks towards the future. It is only fair and right that our hardworking aged-care workers are recognised with adequate remuneration and fair working conditions, and that is why, in this year's 2023-24 federal budget, the Albanese Labor government invested a record $11.3 billion over four years to fund a 15 per cent pay rise for our aged-care workers. What this means is that a registered nurse on a level 2.3 award wage will be paid an additional $145 a week, which equates to an annual wage increase of more than $10,000. If you're an assistant in nursing, or AIN, on a level 3 award wage, you will be paid an additional $136 a week, which equates to an annual wage increase of more than $7,100. If you are a head chef or cook on a level 4 aged-care award, you'll be paid an additional $141 a week, which equates to an annual wage increase of more than $7,300 per year.
This brings me to my next point. The Albanese Labor government is acutely aware of the importance of tasty and nutritious meals in our aged-care facilities. As an emergency doctor, I know that it's vital that our older Australians living in aged-care facilities receive the necessary nutrition to live healthy and dignified lives and that we make sure we are combating the effects of malnutrition. I'm pleased that the federal government has established the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which will be tasked with ensuring the quality of food and nutrition for our older Australians living in aged care. The commission has also established a new food hotline for food complaints and food advice, which is staffed by specialists. They will triage calls and work to assist Australians, aged-care providers and aged-care workers across a range of areas.
I'm extremely proud of this government's work to get registered nurses back into our aged-care facilities. You do not have to be a healthcare professional or even have a family member in care to know the benefits of having registered nurses on site in our aged-care facilities. RNs can provide rapid care to patients in an emergency before our first responders arrive, as well as provide medical care and other care within the aged-care facility. Since the first month of this policy being in operation and the 24/7 RNs being back in aged-care facilities, there has been a major increase in the care received. RNs are now 23.5 hours a day on average in aged-care facilities right across the nation. This 24/7 registered nursing was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. It was ignored by the now Leader of the Opposition and the coalition government during their time, which is not surprising, considering their record of neglect during their decade-long time in power.
The Albanese Labor government's improvement measures in aged care are complemented by a range of other investments in health care more broadly—for example, our $3.5 billion investment into strengthening Medicare by tripling the bulk-billing incentive. This investment will see 73,130 people in my electorate of Robertson benefit, with easier access to a general practitioner. I'm also pleased that 41,789 people in my electorate will have the opportunity to buy two months worth of medicine for the price of a single prescription, and that applies to more than 300 common PBS medicines. These measures ensure better access and stronger health care for people living on the Central Coast. We are committed to continuing our work of improving aged care across Australia, and these measures are only the start.