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Disability Care Sector Desperately Needs More Government Funding

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Disability Care Sector Desperately Needs More Government Funding

The Public Service Association (PSA) says it's time the government increased its funding of the disability care sector.

The call comes after two subsidiaries of IHC were placed into statutory management.

The move has come after an Employment Court ruling recognised support staff working sleep-overs in residential care facilities should be paid a minimum hourly rate rather than an allowance.

The ruling leaves the subsidiaries, Idea Services and Timata Hou, with a potential $176 million liability in back pay to staff.

The Ministry of Health estimates the total backpay resulting from the court ruling is around $400 million.

"The only reason companies now have these huge liabilities is because the government has been underfunding the sector for decades," says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

"Residential and home-support workers are lowly paid and lack recognition for their skills and experience.

"The Minister of Health Tony Ryall talks repeatedly about shifting resources from the back office to the frontline. Well you don't get any more frontline than caring for someone who is unable to do so for themselves.

"What resources in the form of decent pay are being transferred to care sector workers? None," says Richard Wagstaff.

This court ruling affects all businesses with sleepover staff including aged care.

"Workers in disability and aged care provide a valuable public service caring for society's most vulnerable members. It's time the government recognised that and adequately funded the employers so they in turn can pay a decent wage for this important work," says Richard Wagstaff.

"Residential care workers in the disability sector are vitally important people to those they care for. Some service users have severe disabilities and those who look after them need to receive appropriate recognition, be adequately paid, have a career path and be valued for the important job they do. "It's time for the government to front up and take responsibility by providing the sector with the funds it sorely needs," says Richard Wagstaff.

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