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Hidden care workforce report reveals workforce shortfall

woman feeding food to girl with disabilities
Photo: Christopher A. Salerno / Shutterstock

The previous government failed to release and act on the Care Workforce Labour Market Study conducted by the National Skills Commission, which found the care and support workforce is facing significant workplace issues and staff shortages.

The Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, has today released the study, which was delivered to the previous government in September last year however they refused to release it, delaying a federal government response to critical workforce issues in the sector.

Minister O’Connor said, “The previous government’s failure to take action in response to the report has only compounded the problems the sector faces.

“It was kept secret because the Liberal Government wanted to avoid dealing with the growing crisis facing the care workforce, particularly aged care, disability care, and care and support in mental health.”

The study highlighted that Australia will have shortfall of around 100,000 care workers by 2027-28.

It estimates that by 2049-50, the workforce gap will be around 212,000 full-time equivalent positions, with total demand for the care and support workers double that seen in 2019–20.

It should be noted that the report was based on 2020 and early 2021 data, pre-dating the Omicron COVID variant, which has had even more of an impact on the sector.

Due to the delay in the release of the report, the National Skills Commissioner has since released an update to the report, stating that a workforce shortage across the care and support sector has become more acute, and the demand and supply imbalance has exacerbated since the report was delivered to the previous Government.

“Australians deserve to know the truth. Locking a report in a drawer won’t trick Australians, who know there is a challenge that needs to be confronted”, Minister O’Connor said.

“We face an even more challenging economic environment now compared to when this study was completed almost a year ago.

“That is why the Albanese Government is pushing for real wage increases for the aged care sector and delivering on our election promise to fight for aged care workers.

“I am also taking action to address the urgent skills crisis by establishing Jobs and Skills Australia. This is a key priority for me that will fast-track improved workforce planning, including the care sector.

“The Government is committed to working to improve attraction, retention and the sustainability of the care workforce to deliver reform the sector so desperately needs.

“In partnership with employers, unions and the sector we will make the care workforce a sector where people want to work, are respected and valued.”

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