Govt vows ‘robust’ dementia care reform

Minister Anika Wells says a payrise is a critical pillar to building a stronger aged care sector.

Minister Anika Wells says a payrise is a critical pillar to building a stronger aged care sector. Photo: Getty

Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has vowed to deliver dementia care workers higher pay, saying a “meaningful and significant” wage hike is needed right across the aged care sector.

Ms Wells on Friday addressed a major dementia conference in Sydney attended by aged care sector participants, clinicians and international experts on the degenerative brain disease that affects almost half a million Australians.

Ms Wells said the government “meant business” on sector reform, pledging to bolster pay nationwide for aged care workers, including dementia care staff.

“Pay will need to rise and it will rise … We want it to be significant we want it to be meaningful,” she told the conference, organised by hospital and aged care charity HammondCare.

The government last month made a submission to the fair work umpire urging a wage rise for aged care workers.

Pay rises for aged care workers — a recommendation from the 2018 royal commission into the sector — could be “stepped out” over a period of time, Ms Wells has previously said.

She told Friday’s conference a decision from the Fair Work Commission on pay was expected over summer.

“This government is fully committed to fully funding that pay rise when it comes … that is a critical pillar to building a more robust sector,” she said.

“There will be challenges ahead but we are determined to reform aged care including dementia care and support”.

She pointed to the government’s election pledge to put a nurse in every aged care home around the clock — another royal commission recommendation.

“It will improve the quality of residential care for older Australians particularly for people living with dementia,” Ms Wells said.

The government was negotiating a 10-year dementia action plan with state and territory governments, which would be released for public consultation later this year, the minister also said.

Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks, interfering with a person’s normal social or working life.

The disease, which typically impacts older people, is the second leading cause of death in Australia after heart disease.


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