The Treasurer may have acknowledged Australia’s local ‘heroes’, our healthcare workers, for their courage, commitment and compassion throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but last night’s Budget provides too little investment in nursing and midwifery and even less for aged care workers, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
The ANMF has also questioned the Government’s claim of ‘record funding for aged care’, given it is deferring action in chronically-understaffed nursing homes, until the completion of the Royal Commission in early 2021.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said today: “It’s a wonderful gesture for the Treasurer to thank Australia’s healthcare workers, on behalf of a grateful nation and the Government. The Treasurer said they should be rewarded for their efforts and rightly so. But despite nurses, midwives and personal care workers producing extraordinary efforts to protect and defend Australians’ health during the pandemic, especially in aged care, this Budget offers them little reward.
“There is little investment in the nursing and midwifery workforce and even less for our aged care workers. Instead, the Government is deferring action in aged care yet again, by waiting for the release of the Royal Commission’s final report in February.
“It’s disappointing that there’s no action on job security and no action of improving wages and conditions for aged care workers. So, despite the much-vaunted promises of meaningful measures for working women, this Budget fails to deliver – the promised ‘thanks’ is just more words, not real action.
“Even the additional 23,000 extra home care places will do little to reduce the long waiting list of over 100,000 elderly Australians waiting up to 12-months or more for an appropriate home care package.
“If jobs are the cornerstone of the national economic recovery-plan, the ANMF is calling on the Government to act now and address the dangerously inadequate levels of qualified nurses and care staff working in aged care.”
Ms Butler said the ANMF welcomed the Budget’s funding for mental health services, the NDIS and PBS listings for drugs to treat a range of diseases, including ovarian cancer, leukaemia, melanoma and Parkinson’s disease.