United Voice welcomes the Preliminary Hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety confirming that the Commissioners wish to hear from members of the aged care workforce in public hearings around the country, as well as investigating investment in the aged care workforce.

The union also welcomes the stern words from Commissioner Mr Richard Tracey that aged care and home care operators are not to instruct staff to not talk to the Royal Commission, and that there are to be no negative consequences for participation in the proceedings.

At the same time, the Federal Government cannot ignore the sector whilst the Royal Commission is underway. Urgent funding to increase care hours is required even before the Royal Commission embarks on its timetable of hearings. United Voice members and the people they care for can’t wait until the Commission is over. The Government needs to act now to take steps to restore funding to aged care and ensure older people in our community, and the workers that care for them, are treated with respect and dignity.

Helen Gibbons, Assistant National Secretary of United Voice says, “The Royal Commission is the opportunity to create a masterplan for the sector’s workers. We want to see sustainable and meaningful outcomes for a workforce that will be rapidly growing alongside our ageing population to one million workers by 2050.

“We welcome the Royal Commission confirming that workers, not just providers, will be given a voice in the proceedings. Listening to the workforce is a crucial way for the Royal Commission to hear about the structural issues that are plaguing the sector and to also be presented with solutions from front line workers.

“We also will be letting the Morrison Government know loud and clear that ‘workers can’t wait’ while the Royal Commission is underway. The government has ripped $2 billion from aged care since 2014. They know that their actions have led to the current crisis. Insufficient funding has resulted in too few care hours, low pay and insecure work, high workloads and stress levels, long wait lists for home care packages, and difficulty attracting and retaining skilled workers.

“Immediate funding to go directly to providing additional care hours could be allocated now if the government had the will to address the crisis they’ve created.

“Sustained funding cuts have left too many workers in an environment of overwhelming workloads, low pay, insecure and casual work, and rapid staff turnover. Too many workers are being placed in impossible situations.

“We will be fighting for an aged care sector that is funded and regulated in a sustainable manner with the right staffing levels and skill mix that maximises quality care for older Australians.”

United Voice members will be making a submission to the Commission to ensure front line workers have their voice heard.

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