Can Skilled Migrant Workers Help Solve The Aged Care Staff Crisis

While the jobs shortage is causing havoc for many industries in Australia and, indeed, around the world, some workforces have hit crisis point. Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has stressed, “There are not enough workers in aged care, shifts are going short every single day. It is a sector in crisis, it is a sector that has been neglected for nine years.”


So, can skilled migrant workers help?

In Sydney, Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said, “We know the skills shortages are very significant across the economy, across the labour market, and so it’s a priority of the Albanese Government to invest in skills, invest in our own workforce and invest in those students coming through – along with, of course, dealing with the skilled migration pathways. It is really important for employers to get the skills they are crying out for.” 

But with visa processing times taking longer than needed, things need to change quickly. Mr O’Connor said, “We do understand how important it is, and that is why my ministerial colleagues, Clare O’Neill and Andrew Giles, are working very hard, firstly to unclog the visa application process, so we can accelerate those visas of acute skills shortage.” 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was aware of the ‘go-slow’ visa process. “It’s no secret that (State Premiers are) telling me what they’re telling Australia and what businesses are saying, which is that there are massive skills shortages in this country. Part of that is being exacerbated by the backlog in the processing of visas that was there when we came to office.” He then suggested that his government would address this by “actually getting on with the business of governing.”

But in an interview with the Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, it was pointed out that the number of qualified registered aged care nurses waiting to have their visas processed was only 32 out of 60,000 skilled workers. When asked how that number could be boosted, Anika Wells said, “I think it’s great evidence for people that look to migration as some kind of silver bullet for aged care workforce shortages. There isn’t a silver bullet for aged care workforce shortages. It’s a complex problem that needs a considered solution(.) We’ve said all along there’s no one policy lever that we’re going to be able to pull to fix this. We’re going to have to pull a number of policy levers. I’m grateful to be working in a team of ministers who have carriage over things like that. But like you say, this isn’t a problem we’re fixing this winter. This is going to take years to fix.”

At a press conference in Melbourne, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was asked how many more aged care staff he expected to have in the system by the end of this year and where he would find them. He replied, “We will continue to work on those issues. The first thing for us to do is to stop people leaving the sector. And a Government that is concerned to actually lift up aged care and to lift up the care that’s given to our older Australians, to allow them to live with the dignity and respect that they deserve, is a first step … of course, for a long period of time, the health sector have seen people come to this country to make contributions.”



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