Past policy inaction has been a disservice to the one in seven Australians employed in health care and social assistance, a workforce largely comprised of women and one that is vital to the health and growth of the Australian economy.
While the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) commends the Australian Government for its draft National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy and the intention to reform the care economy, a much wider policy lens and a more significant commitment to investment is needed to ensure a truly sustainable and comprehensive plan.
“Past policy inaction has seen the skills profile of paid care and support workers across aged care, disability, veterans’ care, and early childhood education and care deteriorate,” APA President Scott Willis said.
“This workforce remains the most undervalued, resulting in low job satisfaction and low relative pay and it must be prioritised.”
The APA represents more than 30,000 physiotherapists that provide health care across priority settings in aged care, disability and veterans’ care.
“We are at a critical juncture with an opportunity to address ongoing and acute workforce shortages that are impacting on quality of care.”
“Capacity must be found to fund high-quality care and utilise the skills of the whole workforce to meet the demands of an ageing population and the increasing demands across all settings,” Mr Willis said.
The APA has provided feedback to the Care and Support Economy Taskforce outlining how making use of the full health workforce will result in better health outcomes in a more cost-effective way for both the patient and Government. And has released a submission to its National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy.
The submission contains seven recommendations encompassing adequately funding high-quality care, strengthening and making use of the whole workforce, recognising and investing in advanced scope and appropriate workforce skills mix.
“It’s imperative that the Government strengthen policy to achieve sustainable solutions to attract, retain and enable appropriate skills across the care and support workforce, including physiotherapists."
“To ensure the care economy can begin to reach its full potential, extensive reform is required to address the serious neglect, policy failure and broader impacts brought about by the marketisation of vital services,” Mr Willis said.
The APA welcomes the opportunity for further consultation and to brief the Taskforce as the strategy progresses towards a finalised version.
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