Backing aged care nurses

The Hon Mark Butler MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government has been made aware of plans by Southern Cross Care in Tasmania to restructure and make redundant sections of its skilled nursing workforce. We are also aware that other providers are considering similar restructures to the detriment of their workers, and potentially impacting the quality of care for older Australians.

The Government is very concerned about these actions at Southern Cross Care Tasmania in reclassifying workers, such as food preparation staff, to also directly care for residents.

We are also highly concerned that Southern Cross Care are making enrolled nurses redundant because of incorrect claims these roles are no longer funded by the Government.

Qualified and experienced enrolled nurses are a critical component of the aged care workforce as are those carers who provide direct care to some of the most vulnerable in Australia.

These are decisions of Southern Cross Tasmania – not the Government.

At a time when there has been a significant increase in federal funding for care and when there are acute workforce shortages, we are disappointed that Southern Cross is proposing to terminate the employment of longstanding, experienced and dedicated nursing staff.

We strongly urge Southern Cross Care to reconsider its decision.

The Government is providing $5.4 billion over four years from 2022-23 to increase the amount of direct care that residents receive, including from enrolled nurses.

The Albanese government has legislated to give effect to the very clear recommendations of the Royal Commission to prescribe that, by October next year, residents will receive an average of 200 care minutes per day of which 40 minutes will be provided by a Registered Nurse. This increases to 215 minutes in October 2024, 44 minutes of which will be delivered by an RN.

We’re delivering on our commitment to make sure staff have more time to care and to put nurses back into nursing homes.

It is unacceptable that after the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety that a small minority of providers are looking to lower the standard of care available to residents in aged care facilities.

The Government strongly values the vital role enrolled nurses play in delivering care to older Australians. As recommended by the Royal Commission, enrolled nurses need to be included in the direct care workforce to ensure there is the right mix of skills to deliver high quality care.

The Government has tasked the Department of Health and Aged Care to provide a response for Government which will prevent this from happening. We will always put the needs of vulnerable older Australians first and support the workers that deliver this critical care.

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