Aged care incomes are some of the lowest in the healthcare sector. Wages of aged care workers have come to focus as it is being investigated in a recent Senate enquiry.
This isn’t the first time either, as wages in the sector have frequently discussed and will probably feature in the Senate inquiry’s final report.
As it stands now, minimum pay for personal care assistants starts at $715 per week and increases all the way to $868 per week.
Assistants in nursing (AIN) in aged care, in their first year, have a minimum weekly income of $734 – while a first year AIN in a public hospital earn around $820 a week.
An enrolled nurse earns approximately a minimum of $797 a week in aged care, while their equivalent in a NSW hospital would earn around $1029.
Registered nurse incomes start around $852 a week, which is almost $300 less than what a registered nurse would earn at a NSW public hospital, who earn around $1142 weekly.
These numbers are incredibly low considering the average full time weekly wage in Australia is around $1516, according to the ABS.
Working in aged care isn’t always a full-time job, many of the carer and nurses work on a permanent full time or casual basis, with many taking time off the focus on family when they need to.
Because of this time balance and low wages, it means many of these aged care workers earn very little superannuation.
Across all sectors, women are retiring with less super than men – approximately 44 per cent less. The gap is even bigger in the healthcare sector because of the bigger pay gap.
Low wages, understandably, are a big reason why the aged care sector often has issues with hiring new staff and retaining them. Services and facilities that pay higher rates, have lower rates of staff turnover.
Though people may want to remain working in aged care, some have to leave as the pay rate does not cover their needs.
Many staff feel under-appreciated, and low weekly wages reflects the value society places on their work with caring for the elderly.