Australia’s aged-care sector will be supported by a $34 million workforce research centre, in a pre-election pledge by Scott Morrison to ensure the industry can meet growing demand.
The funding is the latest in a series of announcements by the Prime Minister to develop new research centres for key government initiatives, after the announcement of a suite of cyber-security initiatives on Monday and a number of veteran support centres to coincide with Anzac Day.
If re-elected, the Coalition will provide $34m for an aged-care research centre to examine new ways to deliver care for older Australians and training and education for care providers. A further $10m will be spent to develop a “seniors connected program” to address loneliness in aged-care centres.
“This funding will deliver better support and care for older Australians, while ensuring we build the workforce to meet the demands of an ageing population,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr Morrison has flagged a goal of 475,000 aged-care workers in Australia by 2025. There are more than 1.3 million Australians using some form of aged care, with that number expected to grow to an estimated 3.5 million by 2050.
The announcement came after Bill Shorten quashed a call from Australia’s three largest aged-care groups for Labor to extend its $10 billion pitch to fund childcare pay rises to nursing home staff. When Labor was last in government it also legislated a five-year, $1.2bn aged-care sector “workforce supplement” that would only have been paid to nursing home operators who engaged employees “under enterprise agreements providing minimum wage levels”.
Tony Abbott dumped the supplement within months of winning government, saying the money was a union-stacking exercise.
Aged care will be the first sector involved in a pilot program undertaken under the Morrison government’s $41.7m Skills Organisations package to support future jobs growth.
“Older Australians have built our country and they deserve our respect and support for the choices they want to make,” the Prime Minister said.