The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement to provide aged care workers with a one-off financial bonus but says they must be-tax free and accompanied by greater investment in education and training for aged care nurses.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s recognition of the contribution aged care workers make to protecting and caring for our nation’s elderly,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.
“However, it is nowhere near enough and as I wrote in a letter to the NSW Premier last week, pandemic bonuses are needed for nurses in NSW and across the country, and it must be a tax-free gift.
“ACN is hearing from aged care nurses across Australia who are demoralised and disempowered after two years of an under-resourced and underpaid fight against COVID-19. The very least the Government can do to acknowledge the resilience and leadership they and other health care workers have displayed during the pandemic is to ensure any bonus is tax-free and is remunerated according to their efforts.
Adjunct Professor Ward also called for the bonuses to be supported with greater investment in nursing education and training to address the unacceptable levels of neglect and abuse identified in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
“The findings of the Royal Commission highlighted a skilled and sustainable nursing workforce is essential to improving the health of our older Australians in aged care,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.
“Our older Australians in residential facilities have complex health conditions and comorbidities which can only be managed by 24-hour care from highly-trained nursing professionals. However, more needs to be done to ensure nurses have the money and time to undertake the education and training required to support their leadership and ongoing clinical care skills.
“As a solution, ACN has asked the Government in our pre-Budget submission for funding to create 5,000 scholarship places for registered nurses working in aged care to complete a Graduate Certificate in Aged Care.
“An investment in nurse education is an investment in the health of all Australians. Whilst bonuses like the ones we have seen today are appreciated, funding for educational scholarships ensures nurses continue to play a leading role in the healthy ageing process.