Coronavirus (COVID-19) drives the need for more ageing and disability support workers
COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented demand placed on our healthcare system. While the medical professionals fight on the frontline to aid those infected by the virus, the spotlight is on the care workers supporting these vulnerable people.
Elderly, people with a compromised immune system and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk of serious illness. The lockdown of aged care facilities and self-isolation of those living with disability has placed a greater reliance on their carers, subsequently driving the demand for support workers.
Government’s ongoing support and funding
Due to the urgency of demand, the Australian Government has provided immense support across the aged care sector, which prompted several positive measures. Through a series of recent media releases on the Department of Health website, the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck , offered a funding boost of $101.2 million specifically aimed to support senior Australians in aged care and at home. He later introduced an additional $444.6 million towards building frontline defence including upskilling aged care workers and boosting staff numbers during these challenging times.
Minister Colbeck stated, “These important measures offered a reinforced framework to ensure the sector would continue to support those we love most.” The additional funding will also help drive the employment of qualified aged care and disability workers to “protect and support elderly and vulnerable Australians”.
The Australian Government’s aid for the support care sector is not entirely new to the public. Towards the end of last year, WA State Government announced a $35.5 million initiative to cut fees by 50 per cent for 34 selected VET Course fees including Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) and Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability). The significant fee reductions, which came into effect from 1 January 2020, are a part of the Government investment scheme to fill the existing skills shortages and increasing job vacancies within the fields.
The bright future of ageing and disability support industries
As the population and life expectancy continues to grow, the subsequent demand for qualified support workers is expected to grow with it. This crisis has highlighted the merit of our health care and support workers and it continues to test the resilience of our healthcare system. The sheer selflessness, determination and dedication presented by our support workers are celebrated among our community and globally. It is paramount that we continue to provide essential education and training services, which adequately prepare qualified aged care and disability workers to do what they do best.