The HSU represents thousands of workers in the aged care sector across the country. Our members include allied health professionals, nurses, personal care workers and support staff. Each of these workers makes an important contribution to the delivery of timely and quality care for older Australians. The HSU is also a founding member of the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA), which, for sixteen years, has represented the interests of the whole sector: providers, workers and consumers.

In preparing this submission, we surveyed a small sample of our aged care members. Their stories, as told by them, can be found throughout this submission and they highlight the systemic workforce challenges facing the sector. Their voices are doubly important as they show the human cost of a chronically underfunded system, which is poorly recognised by governments and society more broadly. Partly this reflects social attitudes which see care work as something that should be done within the home and behind closed doors, with the expectation that the labour involved should be gifted freely and without fanfare by people, the vast majority of whom, are women.

We welcome the Community Affairs References Committee’s interest in the future of the aged care sector workforce and offer a set of recommendations, which we firmly believe will ensure a sustainable, quality workforce both for now and the future. The HSU would also welcome the opportunity to discuss this submission and our recommendations before the committee. We can also facilitate the appearance of our members so that Senators can hear directly from those who care for and support older Australians. We thank the Committee for the opportunity to make this submission.