There is growing understanding that care work — including jobs in aged care, disability services, early child education and care, and others — is of growing importance to future employment and wage trends, as well as to the quality of life of Australians who depend on these social and community services. For too long, jobs in these growing sectors have been devalued. Government underfunding and weak labour and quality standards have reinforced the degradation of work in care sectors. But with intense labour shortages, public concern about inadequate quality, and the need to expand services to meet social needs, there is now more widespread recognition that care jobs must be improved, and quickly: with more funding, better training, limits on private delivery, multi-employer bargaining, and more.
Our Policy Director for Industrial and Social issues, Dr Fiona Macdonald, recently discussed these issues in a feature conversation with Richard Aedy on the ABC RN program, The Money. They discussed the size of the care workforce, the challenges faced by care providers and participants alike, and the need for government reform.