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Aussie nurse recruiter blasts pay in emotional video – but not everyone agrees

A nursing recruiter has compared the wages of entry level nursing to that of a kitchen hand.

A Sydney nursing recruiter has compared entry-level assistant nursing wages with kitchen hand wages in a bid to show "what the government thinks of nurses".

Tammie Christofis Ballis said she was talking to her friend and was stumped to find out that they were earning $28 per hour as a kitchen hand on Saturdays.

"I thought hang on a second, don’t get me wrong, that’s a hard job and they deserve every penny but if a kitchen hand is getting paid $28 an hour, shouldn’t nurses be on a lot more than what they’re on?," she said on TikTok.

Sydney nurse recruiter Tammie Christofis Ballis is pictured left. Right is a comparison of hourly wages for nursing assistants and kitchen hands.
The Sydney nurse recruiter compared entry level salaries of a nursing assistant and a kitchen hand. Source: TikTok/careercoachtammie

Going onto the Fair Work Ombudsman website, she showed that a 'Level 1 - kitchen attendant grade 1' gets an hourly rate of $21.97 per hour, while a first year assistant in nursing (AIN) gets $23.25 per hour. This is for full-time and part-time rates of pay.

"That’s only $1.28 difference," Ms Ballis said in the video. "An AIN will probably get thrown across a room by a patient at some point... Now doesn’t that show you what the government thinks of nurses?"

Video about wages divides opinion

Ms Ballis told Yahoo News Australia the point of the video was to "highlight and raise awareness about healthcare and nursing wages".

"I believe that this industry isn’t recognised enough for the amazing work that they do," she said. "One will only realise the true value of a nurse when it directly impacts them, and that’s usually as a patient."

The video seemed to resonate, with many sharing their thoughts. "I'm an AIN on $24 an hour what a joke and get abused on the daily either physically or verbally, don't get paid enough to put up with this!!!" one person commented.

"I legit get $1 more working as a nurse compared to working casually at Woolies," another said.

However others highlighted that "kitchen hands will stay on the same rate while "nurses get more as they gain more experience and move up in the ranks".

"I use to be a kitchen hand — no way to advance — moved into nursing over 9 years ago, saw career advancement and happy with my pay (in SA)," one person said.

Though Ms Ballis clarified in the comments that an AIN "stays at the same rate too" unless they "choose to study more and get more qualifications."

"A kitchen hand can do the same and become a chef," she said in the comments.

She also told Yahoo News Australia that even if nurses can work their way up, "the potential of higher pay rates later does not justify a lower pay rate at the beginning of their career".

"Even at that bottom rank they’re still responsible for people's lives," one person stressed in the comments.

Low pay for AINs 'negatively impacts aged care system'

NSW Nursing and Midwives Association Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, told Yahoo News Australia a low pay rate for AINs is "a key reason in why there's difficultly in recruiting sufficient AIN into the aged care industry."

"Majority of AINs are in the aged care system, but some are also in public and private systems. Within the aged care system, we welcome the 15 per cent increase but there needs to be more," he said.

"When you look at the work of a carer in aged care, or disability services, it is hard work. There is a lot of heavy manual work as well as a level of personal interaction and basic common care. It's clearly something that needs to be better remunerated."

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