Aged care workers make a valuable contribution to the daily lives of many thousands of older people across Australia. Creating an appropriately skilled and well-qualified workforce is fundamental to delivering high-quality aged care services that meet the needs of older Australians. In 2012, there were over 352,100 (estimated) employees in the aged care sector working in residential and community settings, and in a variety of direct-care and non-direct care occupations.
Of these, 240,445 were direct-care workers including:
- personal care or community care workers
- allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
Australia's aged care workforce is expected to grow to around 827,100 in 2050. There will be opportunities for people to become involved in this expanding industry. There are a range of aged care qualifications, career development opportunities and skills training available.
Direct-care workers may provide care in a person's home or in an aged care home. All aged care homes are required under the Accreditation Standards to employ appropriately skilled and qualified staff to care for residents. For example, all residents with high-level care must have any nursing services carried out by a registered nurse or other appropriate professional.
Workers in non-direct care roles might be managers who work in administration or ancillary workers who provide catering, cleaning, laundry, maintenance and gardening.
In addition to the paid aged care workforce, volunteers play a major role in supporting the aged care workforce
Police checks are required for many people working in aged care.
You can also find out more about the aged care workforce through these websites:
- the Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey 2012 results are published on the Department of Health website – a comprehensive profile of the aged care workforce.
- financial support, incentives and opportunities that may be available to support a career in the aged care workforce, including vocational education and training, scholarships, support for short courses and specific training initiatives are also outlined on the website.
Volunteers play an important part in Australia's healthcare system, especially in rural areas. These volunteers form the community's most valuable hidden asset. Volunteers can assist older people by:
- social visits
- helping with food shopping
- providing transport to medical, dental and hospital appointments
- assisting with a wide range of other services.
Protecting workers' rights
The rights in the workforce of aged care workers are protected by workplace relations legislation.
Fair Work Commission
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is the national workplace relations tribunal. It is an independent body with the power to judge or adjudicate over issues in the workplace including wages, terms of employment, dispute resolution or industrial action.
Fair Work Ombudsman
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) provides free advice about workplace rights and responsibilities for either employers or employees. They can advise you about issues such as:
- minimum pay
- leave and conditions
- National Employment Standards
- record keeping and pay slip obligations
- redundancy and termination
- workplace discrimination.