We love the elderly - but love doesn't pay the bills

Posted on
March 14, 2023
Aged Care Sector

The fight for 25% for everyone

Aged care workers just had a huge win in our case for sector-wide pay rises as the Fair Work Commission has decided that Award wages will go up by 15% on 30 June.

But it’s not over yet.

We’re still fighting to win a 25% wage increase for everyone who works in aged care – not just for some

The recognition we deserve

While 15% goes some of the way, we know it isn’t enough. We will all get old one day. Many of us will rely on aged care to give us the support and dignity we need in our old age – and our loved ones rely on it now. Aged care work has been undervalued for far too long. It takes skill and dedication to do these jobs. And it takes love. Here's what an aged care worker from Launceston told us:

“Of course we’re all here for a wage… but we could go somewhere else and earn more money. The reason we don’t isn’t because we’re not educated enough to do that. It’s because we love the elderly. We want to be to help them. We want them to have a loving atmosphere to live in. That’s why I get up every morning at 65 years old and come to work, to make sure that I make them smile. I want to make sure I put the music on. And if they want a glass of water on it, I’ll make sure that I’m here to do something for them. Sometimes they want to cuddle. You’re not really supposed to, but sometimes you have to cuddle them because you know that you’re the only family they might have come in that day to give them a cuddle. They might not have family, but you’re the work family. We do a lot. We deserve respect for it.”

But love doesn’t pay the bills.

“The wage in increase still needs to be more,” said one aged care worker from the north west. “We earn our qualifications. And when we go to work, it’s mentally and physically draining. And yet you can go and stack shelves at the supermarket and get paid more. This increase is great but it isn’t enough. We still need the full 25% pay increase.”

We work as a team, so we should be paid as a team

Although those who provide direct care have secured the 15% pay rise, there are still many workers who are just as essential to keeping aged care running who’ve been left high and dry by the decision so far. When you think of aged care, your mind may not jump straight to the workers who prepare the food, launder clothes and linens and maintain the facility – but they’re just as vital as everyone else. There’s no dignity in aged care without a well-maintained place to live, good food hot on your plate and clean clothes, bedding, and towels.

“If it wasn’t for service employees, the doors would be shut. If you didn’t have cleaners to come into the facility, or maintenance, or laundry, or kitchen hands… the place wouldn’t run. And that’s why this is so insulting – that they think we’re worthless. And I think they really need to hear that we are important. Why are any of us more important than anyone else? We should be equal. We’re all here doing the same hard work. We deserve to be respected for that.

I’d like to retire knowing that my 20-something years of work here was worth something. Not that I wasn’t worth it in the government’s eyes .If they don’t value aged care as a whole, do they just not value the elderly?”

HACSU knows every job in aged care is absolutely essential. It takes the whole team to provide care. So we’ll keep fighting for every aged care worker to receive the 25% pay rise they deserve

This article is taken from our latest issue of Inform, our HACSU magazine, you can read Inform here for all the latest HACSU news

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form

Aged Care Sector