The Albanese Government has fallen well short of the number of visas it aimed to grant under a union-backed policy designed to fast-track foreign workers into the aged care sector. Source: The Australian.
Less than 2 per cent of visas have been granted under the policy almost a year after it was established, despite the Government’s claim the scheme would alleviate critical workforce shortages.
New figures from the Department of Home Affairs reveal just 155 workers have been issued permits under the government’s Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement as of January 5 this year.
The scheme has slowly grown in recent months, with separate government figures provided to Liberal senator Paul Scarr revealing less than five visas were granted in the program’s first six months.
This is despite the scheme being able to provide access to more than 14,000 direct care workers over five years.
Employer groups and aged care providers expressed concern that Labor’s policy – which requires providers to enter into a memorandum of understanding with unions to tap into the pool of workers – is pressuring staff into joining industrial organisations.
The Albanese government’s Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement was announced last May in a bid to fast-track foreign workers to alleviate labour shortages and help providers meet government reforms including mandated care minutes.
But the requirement for providers to sign an agreement with the union has sparked backlash from employer groups, who have warned of union overreach.
Under the agreement, unions have special access to workers including through inductions that exclude management. The agreement also forces providers to ensure workers have time off to attend union meetings and that local staff are offered 76 hours a fortnight of work before overseas workers are used.
Opposition home affairs spokesman Dan Tehan said Labor would “rather help their union mates” than address the shortfall in aged care workers as he accused the Government of having misguided priorities after it issued record student visas and special Covid permits.”
Anthony Albanese’s aged care worker scheme grants 155 visas (By Jess Malcolm, The Australian)