Union blasts changes for our aged care

By Tyla Harrington

THE Australian Services Union has slammed Campaspe Shire for ‘‘abandoning’’ its in-home aged care services and creating an uncertain future for about 80 workers and thousands of old people.

Council’s regulatory and community services general manager Paul McKenzie said council had ‘‘only made an in-principle decision’’ to withdraw from the services based on reforms in the sector.

He also said ASU had also been notified before and after that decision was made.

But the union — representing in-home aged care workers — said staff and old people deserved better and it had written to the shire asking for an ‘‘urgent meeting’’ with acting chief executive Ray Burton and mayor Adrian Weston.

Ultimately, ASU secretary Lisa Darmanin said the withdrawal was a bad move.

‘‘Since council decided to throw skilled in-home aged into potentially insecure work, we’ve received messages from carers and service users angry at this decision,’’ she said.

‘‘ASU members are concerned about their financial futures and the impact council’s decision will have on their ability to meet ongoing living costs.

‘‘Where councils have abandoned in-home aged care services, we have seen older people and workers bear the brunt of cost cutting.’’

Ms Darmanin said corporatised services gave workers less time to provide essential care services like showering — ‘‘this puts pressure on workers and short changes older people who rely on council carers’’.

‘‘Council’s effort to trim the budget is coming at a great cost to older people right across Campaspe,’’ she said.

‘‘The ASU will be working to convince council that older people across Campaspe need quality, council delivered, in-home aged care services.’’

Council is now working with the Federal Government to undertake an expression of interest process to find a suitable provider to deliver services through its home support program which includes home care, respite, personal care, meals on wheels and social support.

Mr McKenzie believes council’s highly skilled and experienced workforce was well placed to take advantage of the skills shortage in the care industry.

‘‘The jobs created by the NDIS and increasing funding in the aged care sector mean that our staff will be strongly sought after,’’ he said.

‘‘If a new provider is found for the delivery of services in Campaspe there will still be the same amount of jobs available as clients will be getting the same amount of care.

‘‘Any new provider will need to source staff locally and council’s current staff may apply for these roles. We will continue to work with our staff as we progress through the process.’’