Aged care workers bonus may not be enough to cut the mustard

Today Scott Morrison will announce the new bonus payments worth up to $400 each for aged care workers affected by COVID-19.

Scotty will make the commitment at the National Press Club today. What convenient timing with a federal election around the corner.

Unlike a few other financial promises, like his apparently plan to save the Great Barrier Reef, these payments will actually be made pre-election.

Credit: Georg Arthur Pflueger

Eligible workers can expect the first bonus within a matter of weeks and the second by early May.

The bonuses will be paid to 234,000 aged care workers in government subsidised establishments.

The amount given to each worker will depend on the hours they work and will be funded by a $209 million package for the aged care sector.

Morrison’s office released a draft of his announcement in a statement that said: “Of course, none of our health outcomes would be possible without the hard work, long hours and dedicated care offered by our frontline health and aged care workforce,” 

“Their resilience over the past two years has been inspiring.”

He’s absolutely spot on there. These people are so important and so famously underpaid. While $800 isn’t going to change anyone’s life, it’s definitely a nice gesture to thank our frontline workers.

United Workers Union Aged Care director Carolyn Smith responded to the news and was glad to see a new plan to assist the sector but says it’s been a long time coming, and what’s coming just might not be enough.

“Today’s announcement of two financial bonuses for aged care workers is a welcome relief for the people who have cared for our older Australians during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” she said in a statement.

“In particular, the union is pleased that the bonus has been extended to include all aged care workers, including catering and cleaning staff, as well as care workers.

“The aged care industry is at absolute breaking point, and I am not sure these bonuses will fix the systemic issues in the industry.

“Aged care workers are struggling with low pay, understaffing and the poor rollout of COVID-19 response by Scott Morrison. The fact that workers are still not receiving regular RATs and adequate PPE is indicative of the Federal Government’s failure in this area.

“Although we do welcome Scott Morrison’s admission that aged care wages need to be substantially improved, something we have been saying for a long time now.”

The whole thing has real ‘Amazon headquarters’ vibes. Sure, you can fill a building with shrubbery and bean bags but at the end of the day, if you don’t pay your staff enough or allow them proper breaks, people are going to be pissed.