Today marks one year and a day since the Albanese government were elected, and in that time we haven’t wasted a moment. That is particularly the case when it comes to the efforts we have been putting into fixing aged care, because we know that, prior to our government being elected, despite years of warnings and calls for improvement, despite an entire royal commission, older Australians in aged care in this country were not being treated with the dignity that they should have been.
We know that under previous Liberal governments our aged-care system was neglected, and we saw the reality of that in our communities. So our government have put the focus back on improving aged care. We’ve put the focus on making sure that older Australians, hardworking Australians who have helped build this country, know that, when they get to the age where they need to be looked after in our aged-care system, they can rely on that system to provide the care and support that they need now and into the future.
My community has told me time and time again how important the aged-care system is to them. We all know someone who has needed to be supported by the aged-care system. We all look to a future where our parents or we are going to need to be supported by the aged-care system. At the same time, those same people in my community have told me about the neglect that they’ve feared, the worry and concern that they have felt, because, while they know that aged-care staff have been doing their best, those staff have been overstretched and they’ve have been underpaid. People know that they’ve been leaving their relatives in a system where they can’t be sure that they will be treated how they should be treated—with dignity. No-one wants to see more of these stories. Our government has been doing everything we can to turn this around.
Aged-care staff do such important work. They are largely women, working in a very important area for very little pay. But staff tell me how much they love what they do. They tell me how they enjoy getting to know residents and helping them with the day-to-day of their lives. It is hard work and it’s long hours. It’s work that they’ve been thanked for, but it’s not work that they’re being paid for as they should be paid.
That’s why I am so proud and pleased that our budget earlier this month is making history. Our government is delivering a 15 per cent pay rise to aged-care workers right across the country. This is the biggest ever pay rise for aged-care workers. There are 56,700 award aged-care workers in my state of Victoria alone who are expected to benefit from this. This historic pay rise means that a registered nurse on a level 2.3 award wage will be paid $196 more a week. That’s more than $10,000 extra a year. An assistant in nursing on a level 3 award wage will be paid $145 more a week. That’s more than $7,100 extra a year. A head chef or a cook on a level 4 aged-care award will be paid $141 more a week. That’s more than $7,300 extra a year. These are just a few examples, but they are so important. These are the people who keep our aged-care system running, and now they are going to be paid as they should be. I am so proud of this reform our government is making.
This is just one part of what we have done to improve aged care in the year since the election. In the very first week this parliament sat after the election, our government introduced two important bills. The first enabled major improvements to aged care: to put nurses back into nursing homes; to ensure carers have more time to care; to improve transparency, integrity and accountability in the sector; and to cap the fees paid for home care. All of these are sensible, overdue changes to help improve the quality of aged care right across the sector. Since the election our government has directly addressed 37 recommendations from the aged-care royal commission. We are not going to let this rest. We know how important it is that aged care is there to support us all.
My friend the Minister for Health and Aged Care has been very clear that the work doesn’t stop here—we are bedding in these reforms and we are also working to address more of the recommendations from the royal commission. We are boosting the number of aged-care workers, helping people to recruit the staff they need, training more personal care workers, and much more. There is a lot of work to do; you can’t turn around one decade of neglect just like that. But our government knows how important aged care is, and we will continue to do the work to make sure it is there into the future.