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Chronic shortage of NDIS and aged care support workers in Orange, where pay starts at $24.99 an hour

September 28, 2022

Artwork: Orange News Examiner/Stock image/Seek.

By Peter Holmes

The job listing stated that as a home care worker providing “care and companionship” to an elderly person in Orange, your duties could include housekeeping, meal preparation, help with showering and dressing, driving to appointments and day trips, and shopping excursions.

To have a shot at the job, you will have had previous experience in aged or community care, “or a passion to begin your career in aged care”, and a full driving licence.

You will require “ongoing access to a reliable vehicle that’s comprehensively insured (not just CTP)”.

It would also be preferred if you had a Certificate III/IV in Aged Care or Individual Support, or an equivalent qualification. But, “if you’re not currently qualified and would like to be, then we can help you get there”.

You’ll also need a First Aid Certificate, but again, the company can help if you don’t have one.

And the pay rate for this part-time job?

Up to $26.84 per hour, plus “travel, penalties, tax benefits”, according to the job listing.

The current minimum wage is $21.38 per hour. Across a 38-hour week, a community support worker would earn (before tax) an extra $207.48.

Jobs on Seek.

This listing, for Uniting, was one of dozens on the job website Seek looking to attract community access support workers in Orange for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and home care for the elderly.

On Wednesday afternoon there were 65 advertisements within a 5km radius of Orange. Many were seeking multiple workers. Of these one-third (22) were listed as full-time, 26 were listed as part-time, five as “contract/temp” and 12 as “casual/vacation”.

Another from Uniting, for a casual position, offered up to $25 per hour plus superannuation, penalties and tax benefits.

The listing had been up for seven days and stated that “your care work may include … providing daily living assistance with showering, personal hygiene, dressing, help at mealtimes and with general mobility; assisting with medication and simple wound dressings; laundry and cleaning and supporting residents in community-based recreational and social activities”.

Another provider, HammondCare, was expanding and sought “several part-time community care workers” across Orange, Cowra and Blayney to work in aged and disability support.

The pay was listed as $24.99 to $26.37 per hour plus travel, mileage and penalties.

A job listing on Seek.

Shifts were available from 7am to 9pm and permanent roles were available “with substantial guaranteed hours”.

HammondCare stated that it “specialises in aged and dementia care, palliative care, rehabilitation, mental health services for older people, and other related health and aged care services”.

It operates home care and in sub-acute hospitals and residential aged care.

A social media post seeking workers. Facebook.
Duties were listed as assisting with personal care, medication assistance, meal preparation, light housework, shopping and transport to medical appointments, and social support and community engagement.

The job ad said that no formal qualification was necessary, “however, Certificate III Aged Care is an advantage”.

On social media this week a Queenbeyan-based company About You - It’s Your Life posted job ads looking for staff in Orange.

Describing itself as a “boutique agency designed to support people with a disability in the community” the company stated in one of its posts: “Hi everyone, I’m trying to find reliable and committed community access support workers in Orange to provide support in the community for people with mental health and disabilities”.

“Urgently, I need three people - two females and a male,” Ian Llorente from About You - It's Your Life told The Orange News Examiner.

A social media post seeking workers. Facebook.

He said that at first workers were given “very casual hours” that could be extended after initial trials to establish suitability in particular roles.

“We [can] give them as much as 20 to 30 hours a week, and that could go up if we have people on leave.”

Asked if the pay being offered across the industry was part of the issue in finding staff, he said: “Not necessarily. The qualifications [required] are not as high as a professional nurse, however I think the pay is very subjective to the person.”

He said those who got a job as a support worker on a permanent basis could earn up to $36 an hour.

Some positions in the NDIS and aged care sectors required people to have a TAFE certificate in community work, social work, aged care or child care.

But Llorente said it was not always a prerequisite if the role was at the less complex end of the spectrum of services needed. He said his company could also assist a worker in becoming qualified.

However, non-negotiables included a First Aid certificate, a Working with Children Check and training in “manual handling”, which could include a task such as moving a client from their bed to a wheelchair.

A report by government agency the National Skills Commission stated that in the year to June 2021 the number of advertised vacancies for community and personal service workers was “strong, with advertised vacancy numbers and employment rising over the past year to historical highs.”

That was the good news.

The bad news? “New supply to this labour market is subdued,” the report stated. “Training pathways for Community and Personal Service Worker occupations are varied, but the main source of new supply is through vocational training, with more than 40% of these workers holding a certificate III or higher VET qualification.

"The number of students completing VET qualifications associated with Community and Personal Service Workers occupations decreased by around 12% over the five years to 2020.”

Covid has also impacted worker supply, right at a time when demand was skyrocketing.

The report noted that “Temporary skilled migration is also a source of supply for a range of Community and Personal Service Workers occupations. The number of temporary skilled visa holders in Community and Personal Service Workers occupations has fallen since early 2020, down by around a third, further limiting supply to this labour market”.

Stock image.

Recruitment was also said to be “difficult due to a lack of suitable applicants and a regional or remote job location”.

And, critically, the report stated that the “majority of stakeholders expect that recruitment difficulty will persist or worsen in the next 12 months”. Which is about now.

Service providers experienced recruitment difficulty for both entry level and experienced positions, with the majority of jobs requiring a certificate III or IV qualification.

“Many stakeholders reported that increasing wages or contributing to training initiatives were used to attract employees for vacancies,” the report said.

Ian Llorente said it was “very true” that businesses in this sector were grappling with workforce shortages.

“The challenge is finding the right people.” It was one thing, he said, to find those who were available, but another to find those who were suited to the work - “you need to be a human being, have a heart to look after people” - and didn’t need significant time in training.

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