Senate debates

Tuesday, 31 August 2021


Aged Care

1:36 pm

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Today is Equal Pay Day, and today I want to recognise some of Australia's most overworked and undervalued women: our aged-care workers. As a country we ask an incredible amount of these amazing women. We want them to provide the best-quality personal care for their residents, we want them to know each resident's needs completely and we want them to not just care for those physical needs but also connect with, comfort and support their residents. In COVID we want our aged-care workers to be the front line of preventing infection in a really high risk environment. As a country we want all of this for just over $20 an hour, and it is a national disgrace.

We have to stop expecting so much of these dedicated, skilled, professional women while offering them so little in return. We know aged-care workers love their jobs. They love to care. But, as so many aged-care workers have told me, love just does not pay the rent. It's time for our country to stop wanting the impossible from our aged-care workers. It's time to stop expecting these dedicated, skilled and compassionate women to do this critical work for so little return. It's time to respect our essential aged-care workers not just with our words but in their wages, not just with our thanks but also in good, secure jobs that they can count on. There are so many reasons that we need to do it. We need to do it for these amazing women to have their own economic security. We need to do it for our country to build the long-term workforce that we need in this sector. We need to do it for all of us to have the high-quality aged-care system that workers want and we need.