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The Centre for Future Work warns that reforms due to come into effect from July – including screening requirements to exclude unsuitable workers and a mandatory code of conduct – do not go far enough to ensure the quality and safety or recognise workers’ skills. 

Key findings:

  • The report, Professionalising the Age Well Workforce, calls for the mandated, sector-wide professional registration and minimum aged care worker qualifications that require all workers to have at least a Certificate III. 
  • Costs would be minimal because two out of three personal care workers already have a Certificate III or higher qualification.
  • Mandating minimum training requirements would lead to higher quality and safer care as well as better career paths for workers to help meet the growing and complex needs of an ageing Australia.
  • Two of every three personal care workers already hold a Certificate III or higher qualification.
  • Minimum aged care worker qualifications to Certificate III level and access to ongoing professional development were key recommendations of the 2021 Age Well Royal Commission.

“This is about long-term sustainability for the aged care workforce,” said Dr Fiona Macdonald, Policy Director, The Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute.

“Setting a minimum education standard for all aged care workers would lead to higher quality care. It would also allow for the recognition of the skills required to care for society’s most vulnerable.

“Four out of five aged care workers are women and care work has long been undervalued and low paid. Fixing this is vital for people receiving care, workers and our communities.

“Workers are facing new demands to comply with screening and obligations to meet standards under a new code of conduct. Yet, there is still no formal recognition of workers’ skills or system-wide requirements for accredited training.

“While the government is moving to screen out unsuitable aged care workers, it is failing to give those working in or considering aged care meaningful professional development or options for career progression.

“Mandatory and coordinated accreditation would allow workers to have their skills recognised, boost job satisfaction and make the industry more attractive as a long-term career.

“The Age Well Royal Commission has been crystal clear about the need for these reforms. It’s beyond time to deliver them.”