Matt Doran: Welcome back to Sunrise. Australia's worst aged care homes have been exposed in a new government ranking system. It gives every residential aged facility in Australia a star rating out of five.
Now the homes are marked against four categories; compliance, resident experience, staffing and quality measures. The results reveal one in ten homes are falling short of standards, with only 1% scoring the coveted five stars.
Aged Care Minister, Anika Wells, joins me now. Minister, thank you for your time.
The Prime Minister has gone on record and promised to fix the crisis in aged care. There is a lot of work to do though for more than 2000 aged care homes. Where do you begin?
Anika Wells: Well good morning from beautiful Rockhampton where I'm visiting regional residential aged care facilities this morning.
Star Ratings are vital to fixing the aged care crisis. Star Ratings were a key election commitment from the Albanese government because sunshine is the best disinfectant and as of yesterday for the very first time residents and their families now have access to good, accurate, timely information about what the services they are receiving are like and how they compare to others in their area.
Matt Doran: But that disinfectant only becomes potent, Minister, if that data is really timely and really up to date. How will you make sure that we're getting that real time data and that real time feedback on these problem aged care homes?
Anika Wells: Matt, some of this data updates overnight and the rest of the data, more than 60%, comes from independent sources like the Commission, that's the regulator. And like residents themselves, like you said, we've interviewed residents and asked them how they thought the experience of their nursing homes, how they find the food - and it's that information that is now available on my aged care for people to see.
Matt Doran: The move towards transparency is certainly a really good thing. But one of the big issues, Minister, was understaffing and this and the associated pay rates. Now a 15% pay rise was awarded. Your Government has decided not to pay the full amount saying you need to be financially responsible, but surely the focus has to be attracting the best possible people into these roles. Why not pass on that full pay rise?
Anika Wells: Well, that's not right, Matt we are passing on the full 15%.
Matt Doran: But not for 18 months – Minister is that correct?
Anika Wells: We're passing on 10% 1 July, Matt. And look, this process isn't even finished yet. We're up to stage one. There's stages two and three to go. We aren't even having more hearings at Fair Work until mid-February, so that process is playing out. We are getting our ducks in a row so that once that process concludes, some months into the new year, come 1 July, a 10% pay rise will be there for aged care workers and another 5% 12 months after that.
Matt Doran: But if I, if I'm a shattered aged care worker Minister, I may be asking why I'm not getting that full 15% in July, why it's being staggered?
Anika Wells: It's being staggered because we've got to get our ducks in a row and we have to make sure when we are giving hundreds of millions of Australian taxpayer dollars, we're doing it in a way that's accountable and that money is going to where it's most needed, which is in the pockets of aged care workers.
We're also still undergoing this process, so whilst we do that, we are doing everything we can to make sure that come 1 July that 10% pay rise is there because they've earned it.
And after nine years of the previous government where nothing happened, this is historic, Matt. This is the first time collectively aged care workers will ever pass the $30 an hour threshold. It's the biggest pay rise in federation for aged care workers. So it's a big deal. We promised it and we're getting it done.
Matt Doran: It is a good start, a long way to go. Anika Wells, thank you so much for being with us on Sunrise his morning.