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Issue #1440      27 January 2010

Rural aged care nurses deserve better pay

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) is calling on the federal government to protect rural aged care nurses who are often underpaid and over worked.

ANF federal secretary Ged Kearney said the aged care nursing workforce is comprised largely of women who are paid much less than their counterparts in other health sectors.

“We are urging the federal government to address the workforce issues that threaten to undermine the future of the aged care sector in Australia, particularly in the bush.

Ms Kearney said there is currently a massive pay gap of about $15,000 per year between aged care nursing staff and their colleagues in the public health system.

“This pay equity issue is causing an exodus of registered and enrolled nurses from rural aged care facilities. This is a great shame for the nurses who love their work and the older Australians who depend on them.”

The ANF says rural aged care facilities cannot afford to lose any more nurses or personal carers and that it is vital nurses are retained to help residents manage what are often very complex chronic disease and health care requirements.

“We also need to lift skill levels across the board, from nurses to personal carers by ensuring there is a minimum qualification requirement and a well structured career path for nurses and personal carers.

“We need to increase pay if we want to attract more people into the industry while holding onto the excellent staff we already have.

“And finally, we need make sure that any extra funding from the federal government flows through to aged care staff so they can deliver the best care possible – that means proper acquittal processes for aged care funding,” Ms Kearney said.

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