Improved staffing, better food for residents, increased provider accountability and new powers for the aged care complaints commissioner are some of the priorities for the new aged care minister, Anika Wells.
"Aged care is top priority for the Labor Albanese Government. We brought to the election a five-point plan to reform aged care, including better pay for workers, nurses in residential facilities 24/7, the full 215 care minutes the Royal Commission recommended, better food for residents and more transparency for home care packages," Ms Wells told The Senior.
Ms Wells is responsible for aged care along with senior cabinet minister for health and aged care Mark Butler and assistant health and aged care minister Ged Kearney. Ms Wells is also Minister for Sport.
"Within 24 hours of being sworn in, I wrote to the Fair Work Commission asking it to allow the Government to make a submission in support of aged care workers' call for a pay rise. We have undervalued aged care workers for too long, said Ms Wells.
"Looking forward, there is much to be done. Australians have shown that they want and expect an aged care system in which older people are genuinely front and centre. They want to have confidence that the aged care system is there to support them and those they love when and where they need it."
Ms Wells said addressing workforce shortages was a top priority.
"And not just mine, but the ministers I work alongside in this space - Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Burke, Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, and my Senior Cabinet Minister, Mark Butler.
"It's a complex problem that needs a considered solution. We know that there are so many people who have been part of the care and support sector in Australia who have left because remuneration and conditions are not good enough. We want to lift wages so that those people want to come back to the sector. This, plus work in the migration space, will help us grow the aged care workforce."
Ms Wells said she would work with the sector to introduce arrangements for providers to publicly report in detail where they are spending their money.
"This will increase accountability and confidence in the sector that funding is being provided so that older Australians are receiving the best possible care," she said.