DISABILITY WORKERS MUST GET RETENTION BONUS TO PREVENT CRISIS - TUESDAY, 31 MARCH, 2020
THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE NDIS SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
DISABILITY WORKERS MUST GET RETENTION BONUS TO PREVENT CRISIS
The Morrison Government needs to immediately extend the retention bonus that exists for age care workers to disability workers.
Many of these workers are low paid, facing major risks from the coronavirus, and (with the boost to the Job Seeker payment) are earning a similar amount to if they joined the dole queues.
Actions need to be taken so these forgotten essential workers do not walk off the job which would have tragic consequences for people with disability, and the hospital system.
While the Government is, rightly, doing its best by aged care workers, disability workers are being forgotten in substantial ways that is risking contagion and a collapse of the sector.
Unlike age care workers, disability workers do not currently have access to the national stockpile of basic protective personal equipment such as masks and gloves, despite being sent out to the homes of multiple vulnerable clients.
The Government has pledged virus testing of all age care workers but not disability workers.
Labor is asking the Government to give disability workers the matching retention bonus of up to $800 a quarter for two quarters for direct care workers, up to $600 for home care workers, and pro-rata for part-time workers.
There are longer term sustainable solutions but in the meantime a retention bonus would ensure disability workers are not treated as second class essential care workers.
It is not just the workers who deserve the benefits of better financial security and protective equipment it is the people with disability they attend to who are disproportionately affected by the virus.
Many have an increased risk of infection, higher number of health issues, and underlying conditions such as chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses.
The Government must ensure struggling disability providers have access to JobKeeper allowances for their staff just like other employers.
Labor agrees with the Disability Royal Commission that a coronavirus plan is desperately needed from the Government for people with disability in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Matching the retention bonus and providing basic protective gear would be a very good start.