Aged care calls for workforce boost

·2-min read

One of the hardest-hit sectors from the pandemic has called on the government to help fill a widening workforce shortage following a rise in the country's migration cap.

Aged care peak bodies have called for more skilled migrants to work in the sector, with an estimated 60,000 vacancies in the sector alone.

A study by Catholic Health Australia found of the 60,000 vacancies, 45,000 are qualified aged care workers.

It comes as the government announced at the jobs and skills summit in Canberra it would increase the annual cap on skilled migration to 195,000 places.

Peak bodies Catholic Health Australia, Uniting NSW and ACT as well as UnitingCare Australia have said an urgent increase is needed for skilled workers in aged care, which had been affected by the pandemic.

Catholic Health Australia chief executive Pat Garcia said skilled migrants would help alleviate the workforce crisis.

"Adding personal care workers to the skilled migration list could really help plug the gap in the aged care workforce," he said.

"When there are almost 60,000 vacancies in aged care right now this is something that government can do and do it quickly."

Uniting NSW and ACT senior services director Saviour Buhagiar said there was a 10 per cent vacancy rate across its operations, with 1000 of them in aged care alone.

"After the work our people have done during the pandemic to keep seniors safe, we cannot keep asking them to work double shifts and struggle to fill rosters," he said.

"We need the boost to our workforce that including personal care workers in the migration list will deliver."

It comes as national cabinet agreed this week to reduce the isolation period for COVID-19 positive cases from seven to five days to allow employees to be able to return to work sooner.

However, health experts say it's too soon for the country to treat COVID-19 like other infectious diseases such as the flu.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defended lowering the isolation time, saying it was a necessary measure.

The Australian Medical Association called on the government to release the health advice behind the national cabinet decision.

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID DATA:

NSW: 3602 cases, 18 deaths, 1691 in hospital with 39 in ICU

Victoria: 2013 cases, 10 deaths, 298 in hospital with 13 in ICU

Tasmania: 179 cases, 0 deaths, 29 in hospital with one in ICU

SA: 532 cases, six deaths, 93 in hospital with eight in ICU

WA: 1076 cases, four deaths, 209 in hospital with five in ICU

ACT: 180 cases, 0 deaths, 91 in hospital with one in ICU

Queensland and the NT do not report COVID-19 data on weekends