Blue Haven Illawarra | Aged care workers pay rise
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Aged care workers pay rise

Kiama Council has welcomed last week’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to give aged care workers in Australia a pay rise of up to 28 per cent.
Council’s Chief Executive Officer Jane Stroud said the pay rise, while fair and much needed, highlights the fact that lone and smaller operators, such as local governments and small charities, are being squeezed out of the aged care sector for financial reasons.

The latest pay increase will include the interim 15 per cent pay rise the Commission awarded to aged care workers in late 2022, which Kiama Council passed on to relevant staff at its Blue Haven aged care business.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down its decision last Friday 15 March after a long-running campaign by the Health Services Union (HSU). It began in November 2020, when HSU filed a work value case with the regarding aged care that requested a 25 per cent increase in wages for all employees.

The union argued that the work had been undervalued due to its growing complexity and its overwhelmingly female workforce.

“We find that the work of aged care sector employees has historically been undervalued, because of assumptions based on gender,” the FWC’s decision said.
“This is an historic improvement that will usher in a new era of decency and dignity in our aged care homes,” HSU National President, Gerard Hayes said.

“For the last decade aged care has been held together by the goodwill and commitment of a severely underpaid, insecurely employed workforce. Today those workers have won wage justice,” he said.

Kiama Council owns and runs a 134-bed aged care home at Blue Haven Bonaira, which it is currently in the process of divesting, alongside Blue Haven Bonaira Independent Living Units and other aged care services run from the site. The decision to divest was made in October 2022.

CEO Jane Stroud said while the FWC decision is entirely welcome in terms of rewarding and fairly paying hard-working staff, it will further force standalone operators to make difficult decisions about their future in the sector.

“Decisions like this drive conglomerations and economies of scale. Unfortunately, local, standalone service providers can’t self fund and compete in face of these sorts of cost pressures, as well as the increasing complexity of governance in the aged care sector” said Ms Stroud.

“We have been at the coalface of these realities for a while now and, like so many other local government operators who have divested of their aged care services, financial viability was a key reason Kiama Council decided to divest Blue Haven Bonaira – something we’ve been working for the past two years to achieve.”

“The FWC decision, while we applaud it, does validate our decision to exit this sector, and leave the way clear for larger operators to step in,” Ms Stroud said.
Kiama Council is due to announce the outcome of negotiations with its preferred tenderer to purchase Blue Haven Bonaira later this month.

Although there has not yet been an indication of when the additional pay rise will be introduced, Kiama Council assure all concerned that Blue Haven staff conditions and pay increases will be protected and passed on in any transfer to a new owner.

Kiama Council and Blue Haven will continue to advocate and participate in advocacy groups for increased Federal assistance to drive ongoing improvements to the aged care sector.


20th Mar 2024



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