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Aged care workforce taskforce announced

An ‘expert taskforce’ aimed at developing a wide-ranging workforce strategy focused on supporting safe, quality aged care for senior Australians has today been announced by Government.

Taskforce member Ian Yates speaking at the Next Phase of Aged Care Reform where the initiative was announced (Source: Talking Aged Care)
Taskforce member Ian Yates speaking at the Next Phase of Aged Care Reform where the initiative was announced (Source: Talking Aged Care)

The Taskforce, formed and announced by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt, will be led by Professor John Pollaers and will reference a number of recent inquiries and reviews, including the most recent Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes, through their work-force related observations.

Minister Wyatt says the work of the Taskforce would be inclusive, with exhaustive national consultation and will oversee and sponsor a combination of working summits, public submission processes, technical and specialist groups to inform its work.

“Everything is on the table but there are only two things that matter, safety and quality,” he says.

“The Taskforce is comprised of people with a broad range of experience, both within and outside the aged care sector [and] under Professor Pollaers’ leadership, the role of the Taskforce will be to consider new thinking and to encourage the incredible opportunities working in aged care.”

He adds that Professor Pollaers brings a strong combination of business leadership skills and international experience to the table including participating in industry innovation, with a focus on education, training and skills development.

“The Taskforce will reach out to senior Australians and their families, consumer organisations, informal carers, aged care workers and volunteers,” Minister Wyatt explains.

“It will also consult with may others including unions, health professionals, universities and the health, education, employment and disability sectors [and] explore short, medium and longer term options to boost supply, address demand and improve productivity for the aged care workforce.

“With Australia’s aged care staffing needs predicted to grow from around 360,000 currently to almost one million by 2050, he says workforce issues are vital to the quality ongoing care of older Australians.”

Professor Pollaers says the Taskforce will concentrate on the imperatives that drive current and projected workforce needs.

“Aged care is an industry that matters, and our work will be underpinned by a fundamental understanding of the needs of the consumer now and into the future,” Professor Pollaers explains.

Other members of the Taskforce include:

  • Dr Michele Bruniges - Secretary, Department of Education and Training, Australian Government
  • Dr Penny Flett - Pro Vice Chancellor University of Western Australia
  • Dr Stephen Judd - CEO Hammondcare
  • Professor Linda Kristjanson - Vice-Chancellor Swinburne University
  • Alan Lilly - Chief Executive, Blue Cross
  • Professor Andrew Robinson - Co-Director of Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, Tasmania, and Director Dementia Training Australia
  • Catherine Rule - Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Health, Australian Government
  • Tim Shackleton - Chief Executive Officer, Rural Health West
  • Pat Sparrow - Chief Executive Officer, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA)
  • Dr Adrian Turner - Chief Executive Officer, Data61, CSIRO
  • Ian Yates - Chief Executive, Council on the Ageing (COTA)

ACSA Chief Executive Officer Pat Sparrow says she is 'looking forward' to joining individual service providers, academics, consumer and health officials on the 12-member taskforce, developing a strategy to boost the supply of aged care workers in a sector facing a critical shortage.

"I'm looking forward to working with this expert panel on what is one of the most pressing issues for the sector into the future," she says.

"Together, we have the opportunity to apply the very best thinking in the sector to solve critical issues around workforce supply, demand and productivity to get this right for the future care needs of older Australians."

She adds that getting the skills right now, means securing the sort of workforce the sector needs into the future with the right mix of skills in those areas of most need.

"As we work through the issues, I'll be representing providers' views as we develop a workforce strategy that reflects a strong understanding of the workforce needs of the future and who is responsible for meeting them," Ms Sparrow says.

The Taskforce is scheduled to report to Minister Wyatt by 30 June 2018.

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