Early in 2016, the Alliance made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee on the Future of Australia's Aged-Care Sector Workforce. On 31 October the Alliance was invited to present at the Public Hearing.
In addressing the Committee, the NRHA noted the population in rural and remote Australia is older than in cities with average lower incomes. The availability of services reduces with rurality and people in remote areas are faced with a lack of specialised workforce and aged care services. In many cases, the only option for elderly people is to move away from home and family to access care, particularly residential aged care.
Further the Alliance highlighted that aged care providers in rural and remote Australia often are more financially pressured with higher operating costs coupled with the challenge of attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.
The Alliance raised the concern that the roll-out of the NDIS could put further pressure on the aged-care sector, given that the workforce largely relied upon for service delivery in both aged care and disability care (including personal carers, enrolled nurses, assistants in nursing and case managers) is the same and limited, particularly in rural and remote Australia.
Many submissions to the Committee, including that of the Alliance, agreed the need for a government-led national workforce development strategy for aged care and noted the important role of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in assessing local needs and being well-placed to work with state government, local hospitals and health care providers.
The Alliance also noted the important role which could be filled through the further roll-out of the Multi-Purpose Service model, as well as the ability of the NBN in helping people in rural and remote areas to continue to live at home and in their communities.
Read the full Public Hearing transcript here.