Employer Engagement webinars – Expanding the aged care workforce through Australian Apprenticeships (Traineeships)

Video to accompany the Employer Engagement webinars – Expanding the aged care workforce through Australian Apprenticeships (Traineeships).


‘Webinar 2’, ‘Expanding the aged care workforce through Australian Apprenticeships (Traineeships)’, ‘Emma Gleeson’, ‘Assistant Secretary’, ‘Aged Care Workforce Branch’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Thomas Varendorff’, ‘Assistant Secretary’, ‘Apprenticeships Operations Branch’, ‘Department of Employment and Workplace Relations’, ‘health.gov.au/working-in-aged-care’, ’26 October 2022’]

[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]

Emma Gleeson:

Thank you all for attending today’s webinar. I’m Emma Gleeson, Assistant Secretary of the Aged Care Workforce Branch at the Department of Health and Aged Care. I will be co-hosting this event with Tom Varendorff, Assistant Secretary of the Apprenticeships Operations Branch at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations or DEWR for short.

This is the second webinar in our Employer Engagement Series. Today’s webinar will explain how aged care providers can use Australian apprenticeships to develop their workforce and describe the supports available. We have invited a number of aged care sector representatives along as guest speakers to share their real world experiences of the program with you. We would like to ensure that at the end of this session you have enough information to be able to link in with your DEWR representatives to seek further assistance to access this program.

But first of all I would like to begin with an acknowledgment of country. We acknowledge the traditional owners on whose land we meet today. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. We are based in Canberra today in Ngunnawal country but I acknowledge that many of you are meeting across different parts of Australia.

So some quick housekeeping before I hand over to our DEWR colleagues. There will be a 20 minute Q&A session at the end of the presentations for you to ask questions of the presenters and guest speakers. There will be an opportunity to post questions throughout the session via the question submission box on your screen. We will prioritise questions behind the scenes and post the ones we are responding to on your screen. There is no option for attendees to turn on their video or microphone however the session will be recorded and published.

Upon completion of this webinar a short survey will pop up in your screen. We encourage you to complete the survey to assist us making improvements to upcoming webinars as part of our Employer Engagement Series.

I would like to now introduce you to Tom and his team from DEWR who will lead you through the remainder of the session.

Thomas Varendorff:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Employment and Workplace Relations’, ‘Employer Engagement Webinar #2: Expanding the aged care workforce through Australian Apprenticeships (Traineeships)’]

Okay. My name’s Tom Varendorff. I’m from the Apprenticeships Operations Branch at DEWR and we look after the delivery of Commonwealth apprenticeship incentives and support programs. So I’d also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands with which we meet and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are here today.

Today I’ll be talking to you about Australian apprenticeships in the aged care industry and why you should consider offering this as a pathway to attract staff and skill your workforce. So as part of that I’ll bust a key myth about apprenticeships. I’ll also talk about the support available to employers and Australian apprentices in the aged care industry and I’ll also talk about where to next if you are thinking that this is a good opportunity for you and you’d like to look to bring some apprentices on board.

And as mentioned there will be a Q&A session at the end of today’s webinar so you can ask myself, some employers and some Australian apprentices some questions if you’ve got any. So yeah please do lodge any questions in the Q&A in the group chat. Righto.

Okay. The key myth that we want to bust. So apprenticeships or Australian apprenticeships as we like to call them in the Australian Government are not just traditional trades. So Australian apprenticeships cover any employment arrangement delivered through a contract of training including many things often described as traineeships. So there can be a bit of confusion between what a traineeship and what an Australian apprenticeship is. A Cert III in individual support is a traineeship and so there can be some confusion about whether it’s an apprenticeship or not. But they’re the same thing as long as there’s a contract of training in place.

So what differentiates an apprenticeship from other types of employment and training arrangements is the mix between formal employment, so the ability to earn an income, on the job training, study, which you can undertake while working towards a nationally recognised qualification. And as I mentioned all this is underpinned by a contract of training. So it’s the blending of multiple ways of learning that can be particularly beneficial for learning and development outcomes for particular people. So getting practical experience, getting some formal training and then also getting that on the job training. And for a lot of people that’s a really successful way of learning and improving their skills.

I should just point out that those arrangements for apprenticeships and the approval and the control of what is an apprenticeship is managed by the State Government apprenticeship and traineeship legislation. So there’s a bit of a crossover between the Commonwealth role and the state and territory role but I won’t go into that too much more.

So just to mention Australian apprenticeships can be delivered and are delivered in the aged care industry. It’s a very popular pathway. The most recent reporting period there were just over 4,500 apprentices in the aged care industry. Most of those apprenticeships are women aged 25 to 44. And some good news is that apprenticeship completion rates which the Government’s very focused on for Australian apprenticeships in this industry are significantly higher than the average with over two thirds of aged care apprentices successfully completing their training. So that’s good news for employers. If your employee starts an apprenticeship they’re more likely to complete than other apprentices in different sectors.

Something which is probably no surprise to you all, the level of employment and demand for workers in the industry has significantly increased in recent times. And as employers in the aged care sector I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. But clearly that demand is important from a policy perspective because we need to find ways to make it attractive for employees to work in the aged care sector and meet that demand so that we can provide that vital aged care support. A key part of meeting that demand is to encourage employers to use pathways like Australian apprenticeships to make it as attractive as possible for individuals to work in the sector and to undertake and stay in an Australian apprenticeship.

So why should you offer a Cert III in individual support for Australian apprenticeships as a pathway to attracting and retaining staff?

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Employment and Workplace Relations’, ‘Why offer the Certificate III in Individual Support as an Australian Apprenticeship pathway?’]

Well firstly it gives employers more control over the availability of skilled staff to your business particularly at the moment when labour is very tight. You know very well that qualified candidates don’t grow on trees so taking on staff through an apprenticeship pathway and seeing that through to completion effectively gives you access to more qualified candidates through helping to develop them yourself and building a strong connection with employees which is critical.

Drawing on that point there’s plenty of research internationally which links investment whether that’s time or money, investment in training to staff, to higher job satisfaction, productivity, improved work quality and increased motivation and commitment. And at the end of the day better skilled, motivated staff lead to better care and better aged care outcomes which is what we’re trying to achieve.

There are benefits to the individual who undertakes the Australian apprenticeship pathway as well. First off some people may go into an Australian apprenticeship as just another job. If they see it through to completion it does provide them with a career at the end of that outcome which is a big thing for a lot of people and an important thing. The latest data tells us that after successfully completing their apprenticeship in community and personal services occupations such as aged care around 89% of trainees are employed either straight away or within the first few months. So that’s another key statistic which highlights the importance of these kinds of training pathways because it makes you very employable at the end of them. And that’s for good reason.

Of course along with career, successful completion of an Australian apprenticeship will give individuals better pay, more opportunity to explore the roles in the industries and things like that. And if people do enjoy it as a studying and learning pathway they can articulate to further learning in the industry whether that’s just upgrading to a Cert IV qualification or maybe even going right through to university. But for a lot of people it’s the beginning of an education journey so that’s a really important thing for the individual as well.

And I suppose the other point too with achieving qualifications like that is it’s really good for the employee’s wellbeing. I think anybody who’s undertaken some training or some study and got through it you do feel a great sense of wellbeing. So that’s good for staff as well. So there’s plenty of good reasons for the employer and individuals to undertake it and so the Government thinks that that’s worth trying to promote. So to encourage employers and apprentices to maximise those benefits there’s a range of financial support the Commonwealth provide to make it more attractive to start and support Australian apprenticeships. There’s also a range of non‑financial support to apprentices and employers. And you can also get some State Government support as well for the training.

In terms of financial support these are administered through the Australian apprenticeship incentive system and my branch helps to do that. So under the incentive system financial support is targeted to priority occupations. So the good news for the aged care sector is that you are a priority occupation. So this means that you’re eligible to attract the priority wage subsidy which pays a subsidy of 10% of wages paid in the first two years in an Australian apprenticeship and 5% in the third. So that’s assistance that goes to the employer. Apprentices themselves are also eligible for some support through the Australian apprenticeship training support payment which is a $1,250 payment every six months for the first two years in an Australian apprenticeship.

So in practical terms this means that for a 12 month Certificate III in individual support an employer will receive around $3,500 in wage subsidy. That is dependent on wages obviously. Different employers will pay different amounts. And there’s a maximum of $6,000 that you can receive and this is on top of any support you’d receive from the state or territory Government as well. Over the same period an apprentice would receive around $2,500 in support. So a key part of providing assistance to the apprentice is because we know that there are financial issues that people face while undertaking Australian apprenticeships which impact their completion. So providing some incentives to the apprentice as well can help them meet the cost of living and stay in training which I think is a really important outcome.

There’s some other assistance as well which I won’t go into too much but apprentices that have to leave home or move more than 90 minutes away to take advantage of an apprenticeship, they might be able to access a living away from home allowance. And also there are currently some trade support loans available to help with the cost of living as well. Now there’s currently some legislation that’s going through the Parliament that will retarget the access for those loans. So apprentices in the aged care sector, if that legislation passes, they should have better access to those loans. So it’s a bit like a HECS scheme where you’re able to receive some funding and it’s income contingent so you don’t have to start paying it back until you receive a certain level of income. So there’s another couple of bits of assistance that the apprentice can also get.

So a bit of a segue here. So to help access those incentives there’s a network of Australian apprenticeship support called the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network and they’re a network of providers that can help you right from day one to access those incentives. And we’re going to hear from one of those providers a bit later today. So the AASNs are contracted by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, give personal advice and support services from pre-commencement to completion of apprenticeships. So they help identify training opportunities for apprentices. They help businesses and employers to find suitable candidates. They undertake a sign up and the lodgment of relevant paperwork with State Governments. And they help you and any apprentices that you’re working with understand your rights and responsibilities. But critically they can help you claim the incentives that I was just talking about. So they’re a critical part of the network and that’s why we’ll hear a bit more from them later on.

So another thing on top of those supports, the provider network provide a range of non‑financial support to Australian apprentices. So these fall into two broad categories. We call them gateway services and in-training support. So gateway services are provided to prospective Australian apprentices and employers of apprentices when they’re not sure of the pathway to use or in the case of individuals not sure what industry they are suited to. The network providers have a variety of tools to help those individuals test their aptitude and to stream them accordingly. And if you as an employer reach out to the network providers and let them know you have vacancies they can help you match aged care suitable apprentices to your business. So if you are looking for people they can help you with that. So that’s gateway services.

The in-training support services are designed for employers and apprentices after they’ve started their apprenticeship and their relationship. The providers where they identify an issue that may impact on the chances of the apprentice completing successfully they can get in and help. So the support itself can take on a number of forms such as pastoral care, mentoring or career guidance and is intended to address the needs of the situation and support the apprentices through to successful completion. To me the way I sort of think about that is a bit like a career counsellor or something like that that you might have had at high school or if you’ve undertaken a university degree someone that you can go and talk to when you’re struggling with your study or what not. So it’s not exactly the same but it’s similar, in my mind anyway.

So the reason that we provide these supports is that research tells us that workplace issues around relationships between employers and apprentices are the number one reason why apprentices end unsuccessfully. So if they’re having a bad relationship with their employer or they’re not feeling comfortable in the workplace that’s when they tend to not complete. So the in‑training support is a really key part of addressing that and can help employers and apprentices navigate those issues. And we know that this service leads to significantly improved chances for retention and completion for Australian apprentices so that’s why we support the network providers to provide that.

So how do you get started? So it’s pretty easy. If you are interested in looking to take on board some Australian apprentices and take advantage of some of the incentives and the support that’s provided by the Commonwealth and state and territory Governments the easiest thing to do is just go to the Australian Apprenticeships website and that will give you the contact details for one of the network providers in your region and they can help you with every step of the apprenticeship process. So if you are interested jump online and have a look.

Now I will just sort of jump to another slide. I probably could have talked about this a bit earlier in the piece but I should flag too that as part of an apprenticeship there are some responsibilities for employers as well. And I won’t go on about this too much but the first one is unsurprisingly that you have to ensure that your apprentice is employed and paid in line with relevant awards and agreements. But you have to do that for all employees so I think that one’s pretty well understood. The second thing is depending on the arrangement you have with your training organisation you need to give Australian apprentices time off to attend off the job training. So traditionally this might have been in a classroom at your local TAFE. Particularly post COVID training organisations are delivering off the job training using a variety of different methods so it’s not always in that format anymore.

And the third thing which sort of leads back to that in-training support which I was talking to you about before, you need to ensure that your Australian apprentice is appropriately supervised in the workplace. So this one’s really important. It’s important that you have the right supervisor to support the apprenticeship and apply what they’re learning in the classroom to the workplace.

The network providers can help you understand that responsibility and that’s made clear as part of any training agreement that you put in place. And so we just thought we’d better let you know that there are some responsibilities for you as well.

Now I would like to hand over to Liliana Musolino from MEGT who’s one of the seven network providers and she can talk to you a little bit more about the assistance that they can provide and roles and responsibilities and other things. So thanks very much.

Liliana Musolino:

Thanks Tom. And thank you to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Health and Aged Care for hosting this webinar. I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Liliana Musolino and I’m the Manager of National Client Services at MEGT. I work with the national team across Australia delivering the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network services otherwise known as AASN services. The AASN is your first point of contact for all queries about apprenticeships and traineeships. We are contracted to the Australian Government to provide a streamlined service for employers, for apprentices and the trainees and jobseekers alike to access the quality Australian apprenticeships. And our services are free and we act as a facilitator between all employers, Australian apprentices and trainees, a training authority, registered training organisations also known as RTOs and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

So for a quick overview of what we do and how we support you we work with you individually whether you are a small or large aged and healthcare provider and support you in building a sustainable workforce by providing personalised advice and support services from pre‑commencement to completion. We do recognise that every employer is different so we deliver our support with a tailored and flexible approach that allows you to access a full range of services. So in working with many employers within the industry we’re aware of some of the challenges faced so we’re here to assist you.

We know that there’s a lot of information about apprenticeships and traineeships and employers say that they don’t know where to begin. We are aware about challenges with recruitment, staff shortages and challenges with trainee supervision support. At MEGT we strive to make the whole process as easy as possible for you. We share insights and ideas from our 40 years of experience working within the industry and providing workforce solutions for our employers. For example we know that having company wide buy in from all levels of management is vital for the success of the training program. We have found success in holding information sessions or small group meetings with everyone involved in the process within the business and those information sessions we talk about what apprenticeships are and what the roles and responsibilities are for everyone involved in the whole process. We can talk to all tier of managers from the exec level within the organisation through to ops managers and site managers, L&D and HR managers if they’re the ones that are managing the training program within your business.

So the other feedback as well we’ve received is supervision being a challenge for many employers. A good example of how some of our employers have overcome this is where they’ve been able to start trainees in groups or have a buddy system. So what we find is that their support network is each other. Trainees who have a greater success rate of retention and completion are those who aren’t in isolation or they’re only training in the workplace. So a few other feedback we’ve received from employers as well with the struggle with recruitment thing. We tried to utilise many avenues that are available to them. As Tom mentioned earlier there is the AASN gateway services. It’s a free recruitment support designed to test and stream and match trainees with employers. At MEGT for instance we advertise the vacancies through career hub services on our website. They are picked up from Indeed and Jora. And in some instances where we need to expand the candidate attraction we market the vacancies on our social media such as Facebook and Instagram. We also promote the vacancies and engage and collaborate with other services within the sector such as Workforce Australia Employment Services, registered training organisations, or the RTOs, group training organisations, which is the GTOs, and home care workforce support providers and schools as well, not only to identify increased candidates interested in the career pathways within the industry but also to ensure that employers are partnered with the right fit for their business.

So businesses who wish to participate in the Australian apprenticeship system that need assistance with the other elements utilising a group training organisation – as was mentioned before they are often called GTOs – may be a good option. GTOs employ Australian apprentices and hire them out to different businesses on a short or long term basis. The GTO takes on the contractual and administrative responsibilities of an employer, they recruit the trainee, provide support with work and training of a trainee and the host employer as well for the full term of the contract. To get in touch with a GTO contact your AASN and they’ll be able to connect you with one that fits your business need.

So we’ve seen that once employers launch their training program and have trainees go through the pathway it then becomes part of their recruitment strategy long term. It continues to improve and it just keeps going. Once we identify your new trainees to be signed in to traineeships or existing employees looking to upskill we can facilitate the whole process for you. So we assist you with eligibility advice, trainee contract sign up, as Tom mentioned earlier, and administrative support with processing Commonwealth Government incentives and wage subsidies for you and your trainees as well. We maintain regular contact with you and your trainees from the sign up right through to completion of the traineeship. We have mentors through our in-training services and they can assist you with a variety of issues ranging from any workplace issues, training issues, personal, cultural, financial and health issues and many more.

Just a reminder that the service through the in-training is free for employers as we are contracted by the Commonwealth Government. A lot of mentors have qualifications in community services. Many of them also hold degrees and members of the team have specialist areas of expertise as well.

So there are truly many benefits of the traineeship pathway for employers and their employees, financial and non-financial. Just to recap a little bit on a few that Tom mentioned earlier. You gain a fully qualified employee who will learn your business your way and can help as well to increase productivity and skills in the workplace, improve satisfaction for your staff, engagement and retention which has the significant cost saving, and access potential Commonwealth Government financial incentives as mentioned earlier.

If you would like to know more there is a contact number listed below. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss how we can help you get the program up and running in your organisation. We’re happy to also talk to you in the workplace. So I would like to now hand over to Alex Phillips who’s the Director of Apprenticeships and Network Operations with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. Alex will introduce the important apprentice guest speakers and MC the Q&A session.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Liliana and hello everyone. So now we’re going to hear from two employers who will talk about how they use apprenticeship pathways as part of their overall recruitment strategy. So firstly I’d like to introduce Andrew Jamieson. He’s been with Benetas for eight years and his current role now includes talent acquisition, employee experience, learning and development, recognition and reward, leadership development and performance management. Welcome Andrew. And our second speaker is Cassandra Hurst. She’s the VET Coordinator for Australian Unity, supporting the business in scoping and implementing vocational programs which may be traineeships, qualifications and/or skillsets. So thank you both for joining us today. I’ll hand over to you first Andrew.

Andrew Jamieson:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘SPARK’, ‘Benetas Aged Care Traineeships’, ‘2022’, ‘Benetas’]

Thanks Alex. Fantastic opportunity to share the Benetas story with you all today. So I’m really appreciative of the invitation.

We actually started this journey before COVID with our pilot program in residential services, residential aged care, and this year we actually expanded into the community health and care space so for people supporting clients in their own homes. And I believe that’s something that’s quite unique, being able to develop a model that works in that space. The one thing I’d say as we sort of get into this is the Benetas model is an employment model not a training model. So we come at it – we have a number of facets around how we support employees who are undertaking a traineeship. And I’d concur with I think the data that Tom put up. Our retention is certainly – I would say it’s above even the average across the sector. We’ve had a lot of success.

So the key components. As I said we call them Sparkies which is a bit unfortunate. They’re not electricians. But the idea was we branded it the Spark program because we want to spark an interest in aged care and spark a career in aged care. It has a number of components to it. For the learning and development devotees in the audience it’s a true 70, 20, 10 model so focuses very much on learning through experience with appropriate support from others and then we overlay the Certificate III and other formal training that Benetas does.

We do have an external consultant that we use that helps us to coordinate the overall program. They find the candidates. They do some screening for us before we see them. They help us with wage subsidies and they coordinate all the external parties including the RTOs that we use. And I think the last thing there is that I wouldn’t underestimate if you go into this. It’s a very big culture change. You’re bringing unqualified people with no experience into the business and you’ve got to really think about how you go through that process. And for us we used to hear the language of students all the time from our leaders and that was a signal that we hadn’t quite sort of nailed the culture shift because as I said they’re employees. All right. We’ll go to the next slide.

So this is just a visual of our model. The first thing I’d say is it’s a funnel not a tunnel. So those two orange lines sort of indicate that we start with a large number of candidates and we go through some steps. The front end we move very quickly through an initial visit where they get to either go to one of our home care offices or go to a residential aged care home, see what it’s all about, hear from people that work in that environment, and then we have basically speed dating interviews. If we love them and they love us we go to the next step and we give them an experience where they can actually see the job in all its glory, see what the work environment’s like, and again if we both are still keen we offer them a job. And that process can happen in about a two week period ideally.

And then I guess probably the other main thing to call out is once they begin employment with us. And we’ve got two different versions. It does work differently between residential services and in the home care space but they both have the 70, 20, 10, the work, the mentoring, the buddies and then the formal training. In residential services each person is supernumerary, so working with a buddy for eight to 12 weeks. It is an individual thing about us determining when they’re ready to be independently rosterable and we’ve got a way that we measure and track that. It’s not quite so linear in the home care space because there’s lots of different types of shifts. So they can be doing independent domestic assistant shifts for instance whilst they’re still being buddied to do home care shifts.

And then of course the Certificate III through our RTO partner and we sort of define what electives we want covered, we define the way it’s delivered and then we integrate the assessments into the way we work.

I think the only thing I’d mention is we’ve got a trainee rate for residential in our Enterprise Agreement. Our home care trainees start off on an unqualified rate but we’ve got a progression in both cases. All right. We’ll go to the next one.

So just the last point from me. The key success factors. Leadership is massive. If you’ve got the right leadership this can really succeed. There’s support from other members, so our team. It’s really myself and I’ve got one team member who works on the Spark program, probably 0.5 FTE. Our buddies and our clinical leaders. We’ve got a great structure in our community health and care team where we’ve got senior personal care workers for want of a better phrase who mentor and buddy the new folks until they’re ready to go it alone on the roster. You’ve got to have your regular feedback and coaching because they are starting from scratch. And make sure your rostering is consistent and predictable and that as they go on to the roster then they hopefully just pick up the shifts that they’ve been buddying on over time and then you can sort of expand from there.

We use a technology where we monitor and track feedback. The ideal for us is that there’s feedback on progress logged weekly. And our mantra is to fail fast. So we want to give people the opportunity to improve but we do move quickly at the beginning. So we use probation then to really make sure that this is right for us and it’s right for the individual. If things aren’t happening we take all the steps we can to support them to succeed. But at the end of the day sometimes it’s not the right fit. Either they self-select out or we make the decision. But at the moment we’ve got about 21/22 trainees at the moment. We’re in the middle of taking on the next group, the first step, and that’s probably going to be another 20 or 30 at least. And we’re going to be doing that every few months.

So yeah exciting times. Thanks for the opportunity to share our story with you.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Benetas’, ‘1300 23 63 82’, ‘www.benetas.com.au’]

Now I’m going to hand over to Cassandra Hurst. Cassandra’s the VET Coordinator for Australian Unity.

Cassandra Hurst:

Thanks Andrew.

Okay. Thanks all. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to fit all my information in to five minutes. I could talk about it all day. But yes look my name’s Cass. I’m the VET Coordinator of Australian Unity. Australian Unity by way of background, we have over 6,000 employees nationally across Australia and the business comprises of home care, residential, community and facilities, dental, health insurance and financial products. So yeah it’s quite a scope of broad products there.

Me in particular, I work in our Vocational Education and Training team. So that’s what VET stands for. Reason we’re the VET team and not the traineeship team is because we’re expanding into other sort of accredited programs not just traineeships, in terms of ensuring we’ve got lifelong learning happening over here at Australian Unity. So my team consists of me and three other staff. We manage all the accredited programs across the organisation. So that includes the traineeship program which is the largest.

The current program delivery. So that’s our care worker traineeship program. So that’s the guys doing the Certificate III in individual support. Look it’s a big program. Typically the majority of our participants are in New South Wales. We do have some in Victoria. Currently we’ve got 160 active trainees at the moment but since the start of sort of the journey, the COVID journey for us, since January 2021 we’ve enrolled 283 individuals into the care worker traineeship. So we model it over 12 months and it’s a blended delivery. So that’s a combination of face to face and virtual classroom with some workplace observations as well.

So the way we pattern that into the rosters is it’s a three hour fortnightly class, so a virtual class with our chosen training partner, and then on the alternate week they have three hours study time which can be rostered however the business unit wants to do that for them to get together all their assessment tasks and things like that. We also have three full face to face days throughout the 12 month program and that’s to get through all the practical aspects of the Certificate. Our partnering registered training organisation, they’re very flexible. They’ve worked with us for a long time. They understand the business. And I feel like it needs to be pointed out a close working partnership with your training provider is really key to the success of the program. You really need to be working almost as a unified front with constant communication.

Something we’ve got in place, as you can see a lot of the traineeships we’re doing are actually in the home care space. So we’ve got people out there in the community delivering home care services. So we needed to look at okay, what supervision have we got in place as an employer as these guys are under a traineeship model. So we’ve put in place – we call it the supervision passport. The supervision passport actually has – it’s designed to demonstrate and validate the on the job training that’s happening, the supervision, whether that be direct or indirect, and then also tracking a monthly meeting as to where the trainees are at with their learning. So the activities in the workplace are critical to enable the care workers to become competent within a safe working environment. So the way we’ve modelled it is it’s a monthly meeting with their workplace supervisor which is usually their direct line manager just to do a check in, to go through where they’re at with the course, are they feeling competent to go through those individual knowledge areas or skill areas and check those off to see whether they’re competent or not yet competent. So we have that track and that’s on a Word document at the moment. But we have some plans actually to put that in our LMS to make it easier for the managers to get that filled in.

Another big part of I think the success of our model is we have an in-house mentor. So our in‑house mentor at Australian Unity is an experienced person from the aged care industry. So she’s been with us for a long time, has worked in residential, has been a manager, so she knows the ins and outs of the job. So where we’re finding that the most value has been given is she can actually assist our students with taking the formal learning and then being able to apply it to workplace scenarios at Australian Unity to assist them with gathering up their questionnaires or evidence or tasks for submission to be marked competent on the units that they’re working through. So we find that even just having that person there, like a knowledgeable, experienced person from the industry for them to access outside of their managers day to day, it’s been a bit of a game changer for us. Because it can be really difficult especially if you’re someone that hasn’t done any formal learning in a long time to be able to sort of take that information and be able to articulate how that actually applies to you day to day. So we’ve found that that has really assisted us with retention, with support for those trainees. They feel connected, they feel supported, and then subsequently they’ll get through to the end of the qualification which is the end game for us.

Challenges. Okay. Well there’s been a few challenges over the last couple of years. Prior to 2021 we did almost a pure face to face delivery model. We’ve moved to the blended model. Throughout COVID it was virtual. So we found that that’s a little bit difficult. People sitting in a classroom face to face, moving our care workers to a digital classroom, you had some issues around sort of digital literacy and engagement and not feeling as connected. However it does provide a unique opportunity because our home care workers are spread all throughout the state. They get to engage with their peers from other areas, sharing those experiences and ideas. So it actually has opened up a whole other world to them. In the day to day they would have not have the opportunity to connect with other care workers in other locations. So again it’s another way for them to feel connected to the wider organisation.

Obviously everyone’s singing the same song on this line. Workforce pressures, the care worker shortages. We had other challenges with vaccination requirements, floods in New South Wales, which then resulted in barriers with scheduling and time commitments. So we suspended I think it was about 160 trainees at the start of the year. We put a hold on training for a couple of months, just for two months to give the business some breathing space to get services back on track and I guess for us to make sure we didn’t end up seeing those people withdraw from the program but rather put it on hold so the business can get back on its feet in terms of service delivery and not have the added stress of the training requirements. And then we reactivated those traineeships and those guys are completing as we speak. So all we did was extend their program out. But again from Australian Unity who want to see them get through to completion, and we’ll do whatever it takes to support them to that end.

Plans for the future. I’d like to say that Australian Unity, looking at Andrew’s model, we don’t provide the traineeship as part of the employment model. It’s more they’re in the business, they’ve been working for a certain amount of time, then their managers will nominate them for the traineeship. Then we run information sessions with the care workers to say ‘Hey this is actually what’s involved’ and then if they still wish to proceed from there then we move on to the sign up stage of the process. So that’s where we get our fluctuations in our numbers.

With our next intake we’ve actually got 115 expressions of interest. We ran three information sessions this month and we’re expecting about 90 to sign up into the Cert III individual support. So that is a fantastic result. Reason we’re seeing such a large number is we’ve actually opened that up to our existing employees. So it might have been mentioned earlier but with the changes that came in to the incentives program 1st of July there’s an opportunity for us to put through our more experienced care workers through the Cert III opportunity and receive the 10% wage subsidy to support the costs to the business. So that has been fantastic and we’ve had a massive uptake of that. So I’d say out of the group that’s going to be signing up we’re looking at about 70% are existing employees and then 30% are new for this round. Whereas over the last year and a half it’s been just people that have been in the business less than 12 months. So it’s a really great initiative.

Another thing that we’re looking to really hone in on is the apprentice bonus payment. So I believe that’s also another reason we’ve received quite a lot of expressions of interest. So our guys are part time so it’s a pro rata amount of $625 at the six month and 12 month point of their program. So I feel like for us that is adding to our talent attraction strategy, our employee value proposition and obviously retaining those people over the duration of their course is more likely due to not only getting a fully paid for and supported qualification from Australian Unity but also picking up the apprentice bonus along the way. So for us it’s really that we’d love to be able to say okay everyone that comes on board as a care worker if you don’t have a Cert III we will offer you that. That’s where we want to move it to but we need to strike a balance between as I said using that Cert III as an attraction piece, an employee value proposition and a retention piece but also needing to deliver those core services out in the community and not have an impact on our customer as well.

Yeah. So that’s me. That’s really all I have for now. So I’m going to hand back to Alex. Thanks very much everyone.

Alex Phillips:

Thank you Cassandra and thank you Andrew. So I want to remind people if you’ve got any questions to please put them in the Q&A box and we’ll be asking panel members those questions after the session that’s about to come. I also wanted to remind people that this webinar is actually being recorded and will be made available to people.

So now we’re going to hear from two apprentices who have undertake an apprenticeship pathway as part of their career journey. Firstly we will hear from Alex Jones, one of the VET Alumni from the school-based apprentice awards in 2010 and her exciting career journey in the health and care sector. So welcome Alex. And also welcome to Victoria Bugg. Victoria entered an apprenticeship pathway as a mature age apprentice. Victoria won the New South Wales Training Awards 2022 Illawarra and South East New South Wales Region and the Dot Hennessy Commitment to Vocational Education and Training Award, acknowledging individuals who have overcome adversity while showing outstanding perseverance and commitment to training. So welcome both of you.

Alex Jones:

So hello everyone. My name’s Alex. Thank you so much for giving me some time to speak today. As the other Alex alluded I began my rather long career in aged care. So in 2009 as part of my Year 11 I started a Certificate III in aged and community care as part of a school-based traineeship. It took me two years, 2009 and 2010, so also the years of my HSC. It was included in my HSC. And so the way it was sort of organised was that Mondays were spent at TAFE, Tuesdays through Friday at high school and I would work out of those hours in a high care nursing home as well.

It was really one of the most beneficial steps I’ve taken in my career so far. So the benefits for me were quite numerous. Number one it was counted towards my HSC. Number two it was paid employment which was very beneficial as I was living out of home at the time. Number three it started my love for healthcare. So I was able to work with as we all know one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our community. I learned incredible skills in terms of basic nursing care, patient interaction, family interaction, time management and all sorts of things that have leant very well into my future endeavours in healthcare. It was a wonderful accreditation to gain. So by the time I finished my HSC I’d already gained my Certificate III in age and community care which then allowed me to work in aged care while I was undertaking university. It also helped me get into university. So I was very lucky to gain early entry to several universities based on my extracurricular activity including my school-based traineeship.

I was very lucky that in 2010 I was named the New South Wales School-Based Apprentice of the Year and the runner up Australian School-Based Apprentice of the Year, which also let me do some quite interesting extracurricular things as well and entered into public speaking and quite a few other avenues. So really incredible and invaluable experience for me.

So taking forward 2011 I started university at Charles Sturt in Bathurst. I completed my Bachelor of Nursing after three years during which time I continued to work in aged and community care. So in all I worked in aged care from the age of 16 to just before I finished university so five years in total, which meant that by the time I started working as a registered nurse I had incredible skills as I said before in basic nursing care, time management, client interaction, but also more developed skills like dealing with palliative care, losing patients and dealing with that kind of vicarious trauma and grief and working in a multidisciplinary work environment which were all incredibly valuable and really helped me enter into the registered nursing field with much more confidence and skill.

Moving forward from there I spent six months in surgical and then went straight into ED. After a year and a half I specialised in critical care. So I did a graduate certificate in critical care nursing. From there I specialised further in emergency and became an experienced, high skilled senior emergency nurse. I then completed in 2019 my graduate diploma in midwifery and became a registered midwife, something I’m exceptionally proud of. And then since 2020 I have been working as a flight nurse with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in South East Queensland.

So in my eight years as a registered nurse I’ve done quite a few different things and specialised in obviously quite a dynamic range of areas. And though I don’t directly work in aged care anymore I obviously am still very much in contact with the aged care sector. A lot of our patients in critical and acute care come from aged care facilities or have links to aged care services. And so we’re really quite impacted by the limitations and the struggles that you go through in the aged care sector in terms of gaining skilled staff members and skilled workforce and also staff retention and the care that is then provided to your residents and clients.

I know that directly I’ve helped influence quite a few different people going through high school and university to become involved in aged care as a stream towards university and then further education in healthcare. And I can definitely attest to the fact that it’s incredibly beneficial not only for the trainees themselves but also for the work environment for your staff members and also for your clients that you’re working for. I think there’s something incredibly valuable and innately responsible about bringing the younger generations into the aged care sector. Number one we have an ageing workforce and bringing people into that workforce at an earlier age increases the likelihood that they’ll be retained there and therefore be involved in that sector for a longer period of time. It also enhances your ability to bring in a skilled workforce, of course significantly benefits your residents and clients in terms of providing high level skilled care. And on a purely human level I think involving intergenerational interaction in the care environment is incredibly beneficial for wellbeing and holistic care of your residents and clients as well.

So that’s a lot about me but from a personal perspective my commencement in aged care was pivotally progressing myself throughout my career and has allowed me to establish myself as a registered nurse and midwife very thoroughly and really given me some incredible skills that I continue to utilise to this day about half a lifetime after starting in aged care to begin with.

Happy to take any questions you have about the benefits of school-based traineeships and the implications of school-based traineeships and how you can support students to undertake those. But for now I’d like to pass on to Victoria Bugg and congratulate Victoria on her achievements this year as well with her awards.

Victoria Bugg:

Thank you. Hello everyone. I’ve been working with Australian Unity since returning home in 2020 after travelling around Australia and working on cattle stations as a cook. It was my daughter who suggested I go into care and support sector as it would suit my nature. I was amazed at how I blossomed in the job caring for people in our community, supporting them in the different daily tasks that helps them to live independently in their homes. I first heard of our traineeships at Australian Unity at our team meeting. I was interested in completing the traineeship that would equip me with the knowledge and skills to become a great care worker. The traineeship also gave me the certification in individual support that a lot of the customers were asking for.

So what did my traineeship look like to me? Well it gave me a chance to work and train at the same time. At the time it was like a win-win situation for my employer and for myself. My employer got a committed and passionate employee, and myself, I got a great job and I got training security. Working together with the apprenticeship support network provider, MEGT, and with Australian Unity who have a trainee support team, I was able to receive support whenever I needed it and no question was ever too small to ask.

What else happened? Appointment times were allocated to go over any questions and to talk about how I was going myself, to talk about work, to talk about what I might be struggling with personally. It was just good to know that I could call any time.

I was doing the traineeship while we had COVID on. So it was once a month online we would be with our trainer and we’d go through a new module, raise any questions that we might be having problems with, to complete assignments, then we had three hours per week to have study time. That time it was valuable because we were able to talk and we were all on Microsoft Teams and we could talk about how things were going in class, what people were struggling with, especially if it came to questions with our assignments.

So looking back at my goals in life and my work goals, I have fulfilled them beyond my expectations of myself. The opportunity my employer gave me was life changing and I am forever grateful. I set a career goal to become a care worker coach with Australian Unity and recently I have done that. And by completing my Certificate III in individual support and my passion for caring it gave me the right path that led to my training as a care worker coach. When I finished my Certificate I was nominated for Trainee of the Year with the Illawarra and South East Region New South Wales Training Awards. I won the Dot Hennessey Commitment to Vocational Training Education Award.

How amazing is that opportunity for myself and my employer. That could be you. It’s great recognition because together as a team we do it. We also put in an article about myself and what I went through and the traineeship I went under in our quarterly magazine. It’s on our website. And it’s there to encourage and empower other people to come on board to think about doing a traineeship or doing training of some sort to become a care worker. So here I am today proud and sitting as an ambassador to encourage you all to consider taking on that apprenticeship, to consider taking on that trainee.

For the future I believe with all of us working together we can enhance our knowledge and our skills through the training to provide a great service for our communities throughout Australia. And I wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. Thank you.

Is it back to you Alex?

Alex Phillips:

It certainly is. Thanks Victoria. So I’d really like to thank all of the guest speakers and can I please invite them all to come back ready for the Q&A session. We already have quite a lot of questions that have come through on the Q&A box. If you’re not aware please put the questions in the box and if you’ve got a question that you would like directed to a particular panel member then please put their name.

So firstly:

Q:         Are apprenticeships available for casual workers?

I can answer that. Australian apprenticeships can be delivered either as part time or full time arrangements but not casual.

Okay. So a question I think for Tom.

Q:         I’m aware of the apprentice training support payment for apprentices now on offer from the 1st of July. How do apprentices gain access to these funds?

Thomas Varendorff:

The best thing to do is talk to their AASN. They should be able to help you register for those support payments if they haven’t already. So I don’t know Liliana what the practical steps are about putting in that bid but I think the short answer is get in touch with your AASNs and help them to log that application and claim.

Liliana Musolino:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Emma Gleeson:

Thanks Tom. So next question. This is for anyone on the panel that can answer it.

Q:         Are school-based apprenticeships common in aged care?

Andrew Jamieson:

I’ll start because I’ve actually met with the Victorian State Government Department recently on this very topic and we’re very keen to get started. I’ve always had a belief that if – we’re really looking for people with the heart for the work and I think if you’ve got that when you’re let’s say 30 years old you’ve got it when you’re 16, you just probably don’t know it. So I’ve done a little bit of work in that space. The Victorian Government I think is sort of keen to support that. We’ve just got to define a model for how it works. So the short answer is no they’re not common but hopefully we’re going to see them really start to take flight soon.

Liliana Musolino:

If I can just add also [1:01:43], in terms of going and engaging with the schools, we find that a lot of young people don’t know how to actually enter into the industry. So this is why through our career hub services, the AASN career hub services, they engage with the schools to try and promote the different industries and speak to the VET coordinators to see if we can connect the young Australians with our employers within the aged and healthcare industry.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Liliana. Nothing else from the panel on that one?

Thomas Varendorff:

I’d just say anecdotally we have come across some businesses that have a lot of people in the care workforce doing ASBAs but I wouldn’t know the stats or anything like that. But they’ve indicated that there’s a lot of people that undertake different caring arrangements through school‑based apprenticeships. But it’s just anecdotal so that may be a bit biased by their kind of business model or something like that. But we have heard that there’s a lot of people involved.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Tom.

So question for Liliana.

Q:         What courses are eligible for apprenticeship support?

Liliana Musolino:

That’s for me. Apprenticeships can cover many, many qualifications in many industries. There’s quite a few of them. It depends. From your Certificate II up to the Certificate IV, the diplomas. We can look at the job roles and match the right qualifications with that job role. There’s over 500 qualifications that can be done on the traineeship and apprenticeship pathway. And specifically within this industry we find that I think what gets overlooked are employees that work in the kitchens in the residential care, laundry staff as well. There’s quite a few qualifications that we could look in to for pathways for you as well. And we find that a lot of employers end up identifying those employees that go through just ancillary qualifications, they can then go through your Certificate III in individual support and go with the [1:03:56].

Thomas Varendorff:

I’d just give a plug too if I can there Alex. So we’ve talked a lot about the priority wage subsidy and how that applies to caring roles but there is also employer incentives for occupations that aren’t in the priority cohorts. So there’s a hiring incentive that’s available as well. So if you are looking at traineeships or apprenticeships that aren’t necessarily in those – or outside of the care workforce there is also employer incentives there too.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Tom.

Andrew Jamieson:

And maybe just one quick point – and I think Cass might have mentioned this before – it’s an entry point to get in to aged care and then you can sort of branch off into a range of different places. And I’m sort of reminded of one of our trainees who started I think probably two years ago. She worked for a little while as a personal care worker, transitioned into leisure and lifestyle, and then sort of had this ‘a-ha’ moment talking to a pastoral care practitioner, decided that’s what she wanted to do. Went out and got her clinical pastoral education which is the minimum sort of requirement, and a vacancy opened up and probably about a month ago we appointed her as a pastoral care practitioner. So you can get in there and just use it as a starting point to go off into a whole range of different things.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Andrew. So I think this is probably a question for Cassandra, Andrew and Liliana.

Q:         What should be the qualifications of a supervisor of a trainee?

Cassandra Hurst:

Well there’s a formal answer to that Liliana isn’t there?

Liliana Musolino:

I guess if I can jump on here the supervisor at least need to have years of experience within the industry but also hold the same qualification or above that the apprentice and trainee that’s entering into the qualification in the workforce. That’s the short answer to that question.

Cassandra Hurst:

Good answer.

Andrew Jamieson:

Yep. I would just say there’s a difference between supervisor and buddy. And look the buddy should meet those same requirements really shouldn’t they. But the thing I’d just say is just choose your buddies wisely to our friends who are aged care providers. Knowing something doesn’t make you a good buddy. All right? So there’s a whole set of skills around being a great buddy and having that sort of generosity of spirit that helps somebody grow and develop.

Cassandra Hurst:

So true. And I think for us with the workplace supervisors it’s something that probably isn’t mentioned so much because we really central all these discussions around the employee/trainee. But it’s a huge education piece to get those workplace supervisors up to a knowledge level more about the obligations and requirements and how to coach and how to track and how to support your trainee. So for us that’s actually just the same amount of work to actually get the programs up and running for the trainee so that’s something that should be noted as well.

Alex Phillips:

Andrew you talked about your buddies. I have a question for you on that.

Q:         Do you require your buddies to have any specific qualifications?

Andrew Jamieson:

No. Only the equivalent or above. So our buddies are often personal care workers or in the case of our community health and care in-home business senior personal care workers. That relates to more skills than experience. So yeah they’ve got to have at least the Cert III. We haven’t gone down the track – I think the question might be angling towards Cert IV in training and assessment. We haven’t gone down that path yet.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. So another question for Andrew and Cassandra.

Q:         Can you talk about attrition rates across time? Do you find trainees leaving during and after the traineeship is different to other staff?

Cassandra Hurst:

Andrew do you want to kick off? For us I don’t have any numbers/stats in front of me but our experience has been if someone’s going to resign they’re going to resign. We find that that decision’s already made. However if there is a way for us to intervene through our mentoring service and we picked up on an issue and we resolve that issue, we don’t have people leaving the program because they don’t like the program. So we will resolve any of those issues whether it be there’s an issue with time release, there’s some personal circumstances, and also feeling they don’t have time for it, things like that, or they’re struggling with the actual course content. So we find when we put those interventions in place and then work closely with the training provider to look at support sessions, one on one sessions with the trainer, we get them back on track and through completion. So similar to Andrew I believe our completion rates are above sort of the standard however I’ve found that it has taken a bit of a hit because of resignations over the past probably 12 months because of sort of the COVID and vaccination and flood situation. We had a lot of people coming in and leaving the organisation but not attributed to the training in any way.

Andrew Jamieson:

Yeah. Look I’d add to that. Very similar experience. I’m just sort of thinking back over probably the three years now I think that we’ve been doing this. We haven’t lost a single trainee who’s gone up the road to another provider. There’s probably a few that have gone and worked for Cassandra’s business because we’ve had two or three people whose partners relocated interstate with work. We’re in Victoria and they moved to New South Wales but the great thing is they moved there with a Cert III qualification and were able to sort of pick up a role interstate. That’s out of our control. Remember our model is designed for people to drop out along the way and that’s because we move really quickly. We want people to just go ‘This is 100% what I want to do’ and if it’s not they can move on really quickly. It’s the big benefit over signing up to a Cert III, investing all that time and effort, getting to placement and going ‘I didn’t realise I’d have to do that’. They’ll probably invest – just to give you an absolute number they’ll kind of have that sort of clarity within about three hours of engagement with us and they can make that decision about ‘Is this what I really want to do’.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. Thank you. Liliana.

Q:         Can a diploma of nursing be delivered under the Australian apprenticeship model?

Liliana Musolino:

Yes we can.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. I think it also depends on the state and territory doesn’t it?

Liliana Musolino:

Yes it does.

Alex Phillips:

It’s available as an Australian apprenticeship in Victoria, South Australia and Northern Territory. Okay.

Another question for you Liliana.

Q:         What are the minimum hours for the Cert III?

Liliana Musolino:

That also varies from state to state. There’s different state requirements. For example Victoria is 13 hours minimum for part time. I think it’s 21.5 hours in New South Wales. It varies from state to state and we’d be working with you to check to see which state your employee’s in to try to make sure that we meet those state requirements as well.

Alex Phillips:

And I think also that the jurisdiction won’t approve a training contract if it’s less than 7.5 hours per week.

Liliana Musolino:

Yes that’s right.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. A question for the panel, whoever can answer.

Q:         Do you have to guarantee employment after the traineeship is finished?

Andrew Jamieson:

No but you’d be mad not to. That’s the point isn’t it? It’s about employment. For us I reckon once we get past probation unless something seriously goes wrong our objective is that they become an ongoing fully qualified employee of Benetas.

Alex Phillips:

But I suppose it’s just not guaranteed after.

Andrew Jamieson:


Alex Phillips:

But you would say you would hope that it would be. Yeah. Suited to the role.


Q:         Are there opportunities for people with disability to be involved in this program?

Liliana Musolino:

Yes. Absolutely.

Andrew Jamieson:

Big yes.

Alex Phillips:

Big yes? Yep. Okay. And they’d probably be eligible for the disability wage subsidy. Tom did you want to talk about that?

Thomas Varendorff:

Yeah. I’m just digging up the details. So there is a disability apprenticeship wage support which is $104.30 per week for a full time Australian apprenticeship on a pro rata scale according to the hours worked for a part time apprentice. It provides additional assistance to employers who employ an Australian apprentice with a disability in a Cert II or higher qualification. So definitely something to do if you can take on an apprentice with a disability.

Alex Phillips:


Q:         Where do we start if we are interested in setting up a trainee in our facility?

I think Liliana this is probably one for you.

Liliana Musolino:

Definitely contact your AASN and we’ll be able to help - - -

Alex Phillips:

Can’t hear you Liliana.

Liliana Musolino:

Can you hear me now?

Alex Phillips:

A little bit.

Liliana Musolino:

Is that better?

Alex Phillips:

Yeah that’s better.

Liliana Musolino:

Sorry about that. I don’t know what happened. Definitely contact your Australian apprenticeship network provider and they’ll be able to support you from the beginning of the process right through to successful completion of the traineeship. But we will look to ensure that you have all the information you need, explain the roles and responsibilities for your trainee to your trainee within the workplace and work with you to have that training contract approved so that we can then engage with a registered training organisation to deliver your training for your employee.

Alex Phillips:

And Liliana I’m assuming we have someone who’s not with a provider already. Probably first port of call would be to go to the Australian Apprenticeship website and get the details which was in the slide that Tom presented.


Q:         What is the duration of the buddy period for existing staff?

So Andrew and Cassandra can you answer that one?

Andrew Jamieson:

Yeah. So for us in residential services it averages out at about ten to 12 weeks. That’s at about three shifts a week that they’re buddying. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the one buddy mind you. In community health and care it probably ends up being about the same before they’re fully rosterable but bearing in mind it’s sort of a sliding scale of they’ll be rosterable very quickly for domestic assistance, so we’re thinking about three weeks of buddying, and then sort of more support with buddies for the more complex types of shifts. But ultimately it’s an individual decision. If the person needs more time or needs less time we can accommodate that. Our biggest issue is that we were probably a bit conservative and we run the risk of the trainees getting bored.

They’re ready to go. They’re telling us ‘Let me at it’.

Cassandra Hurst:

It’s a little bit different for us. With our nomination it’s not you commence employment with Australian Unity then there’s a waiting period then you’re signed up. It’s a nomination process. So typically these guys have been at least six months employed so they’re already out there sort of delivering services with the clients directly so they don’t need that. But that buddying has already occurred as part of sort of their induction probation period and then they’re moving into the traineeship. So a little bit different for us.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. Thank you. Now I do have a question. I can’t remember Andrew if you talked about this.

Q:         Are you able to share an example of your supervision passport?

Was that - - -

Andrew Jamieson:

That’s Cassandra.

Alex Phillips:


Cassandra Hurst:

We guard the supervision passport with our lives here at Australian Unity. That’s what I’m told by one of my team members who designed it in 2010. She said we don’t send it to anyone.

But really we just break down – we look at the timetable, so look at the units of competency. So there’s 13 subjects let’s say in the Cert III. We break that down into monthly. We look at what those knowledge areas are that they need to check off, or those skill areas, and we just create little checklists and then there’s a signing part for the workplace supervisor. So that’s as simple – if you wanted to put something simple together that’s really all it needs to be.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Cassandra. So again Cassandra and Andrew.

Q:         Do you have any trainees in regional or remote locations? If so how do you ensure appropriate supervision?

Andrew Jamieson:

So for us we’ve got operations in Traralgon and Bendigo and Gisborne, so regional locations, and yes we’ve got trainees certainly at the moment in Bendigo and Gisborne. We’re just about to launch in Gippsland. It sounds like the supervision passport’s similar to what we’ve got. It’s through our third party. We have a technology that we use. But again the supervision and buddying is local and my team member can sort of retain that oversight by going on to our website that we’ve got and just track the feedback as it’s being logged and the progress over time.

Cassandra Hurst:

And as I said for us we do – I mean right across New South Wales, so like Broken Hill or something like that – we have branches everywhere. So they’re like administrative offices. So those care workers have a connection to their local branch and we have those everywhere. So at various times they’ll be going in there face to face to have meetings, team meetings, but then there’s also the virtual meeting schedule as well. So they are supervised indirectly through that and again these guys are more experienced before they go into the traineeship so it’s a little bit of a different situation for us.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. I’m conscious of time. We’ve still got a few questions to come. Andrew you mentioned that trainees who are new to the industry are buddied for an eight to 12 week period.

Q:         What tool do you use to measure their readiness to go out unsupervised?

Andrew Jamieson:

Yep. So we have – I’m trying to remember what we call it but it’s quite a detailed assessment that the manager in residential services and then we’ve got a particular role in community health and care that has oversight, they facilitate the assessment which is sort of a combination of inputs from buddies and other people that work and directly supervise the person on the floor. And it’s quite a detailed assessment that they go through and it’s only when we can tick off everything there that we’re comfortable that they’re ready to be rostered. And of course we continue to supervise them closely in residential aged care. That’s the benefit and the simpler version of doing it in residential aged care. They’re not necessarily on their own. They’re part of a team. We’ve really got to get our ducks in a row with community health and care because once they’re rosterable they’re on their own with the client. And we still have the senior PCWs still visit and observe and give them feedback along the way as well. So it’s quite a detailed assessment that we do which is beyond even the simpler level that we do weekly for each person.

Alex Phillips:

Okay. Thanks Andrew.

So many questions.

Q:         What is involved as part of the position of care worker coach? Are they paid more highly?

Andrew Jamieson:

Do you want to start Cass?

Cassandra Hurst:

Care worker coaches I believe – so that’s not really my area because I don’t really deal with that side of things. But that’s more of a – the care worker coaches are there to support all care workers not just the trainees. So again the trainees are just part of our workforce and they will access them. But it’s more the workplace supervisor which is usually their direct manager and that’s who’s aligned under the traineeship or delegated under the traineeship that’s providing that support and then they have the other supports available to them as a care worker as well.

Andrew Jamieson:

And I think from our perspective that senior PCW role in our community health and care business, that’s what the role is, similar by the sounds of it to what Cass has. That’s the role and that’s the expectation and yes they’re more highly paid than a personal care worker. In residential services at the moment we’re taking more sort of recognition and reward approach to recognising the great work that the buddies do. I’m not going to lie. The disappearance of the boosting apprenticeships commencement funding is probably going to shift some of our plans because it was a great incentive to really invest in this and there’s obviously not as much financial support available now. But it’s certainly something we’re thinking about. And we’re also looking at defining career pathways more clearly in aged care. That’s a separate project I’m working on and I think this can sort of fit into a career pathway process for us.

Alex Phillips:

Thanks Andrew.

Q:         Is there an Australian apprenticeship specific to dementia care for aged care facilities?


Liliana Musolino:

Yes we do. We’ve got a Certificate III in disability that could be done on the traineeship pathway as well. And what I find is that a lot of our employers, because of the multiple avenues that your employees can go through in terms of their traineeship pathway or career pathway in the business they could look at doing dual qualifications as well.

Alex Phillips:

Time for one more question then we’ll need to bring this session to a close. But thanks so much for all your questions. So the last one Andrew.

Q:         Do you recommend that staff are assigned with the same buddy for their initial shifts?

Andrew Jamieson:

That’s probably the simplest way of doing it. If you’ve got more than one buddy then it adds complexity in terms of consistency of message, communication, and then the feedback coming the other way. Although I must say then that the benefit of having more than one buddy is you get richer experiences and skills being shared. So I wouldn’t necessarily say no to doing it. I think it’s just you’ve just got to be careful about setting it up correctly. And we’ve had a few adventures along the way where there’s been mixed messages from different buddies. So yeah you’ve just got to line all that stuff up and then I think it can be really good.

Alex Phillips:

Great. Thank you. So I’m now going to bring the Q&A session to a close. I’d really like to thank Alex, Cassandra, Andrew, Tom, Victoria and Liliana for being part of the panel and for presenting. Thank you for the information you have provided and also for the personal experiences that you’ve shared.

I’d now like to hand back to Emma to close this session. Thank you all.

Emma Gleeson:

Thank you. And I would also like to extend my thanks from the Department of Health and Aged Care to the presenters and guest speakers for joining with us today. Just a plug for one of our programs. So the Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment will be open for applications from the 1st of November this year and will close on the 15th of December. I encourage employers to apply for the funding for their registered nurses subject to the eligibility requirements. If you’ve got any queries about the program the email address is on the screen.

Also I would encourage people on the call who haven’t already done so to visit the Department’s Aged Care Engagement Hub. This gives you information about how you can be involved in broader aged care reforms.

And finally the presentation and recording of the webinar will be available on the Department’s website shortly. We value your feedback so once this presentation ends you’ll be able to fill out a short survey. And as I said at the beginning it’s really great if we can get your feedback on the effectiveness of these seminars and also any future topics you’d like us to cover.

So once again thank you all for attending. I hope this webinar was really useful and you know who to go to if you’re interested in joining the Australian Apprenticeships Program. Thank you everyone. Have a good day.

[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Australian Apprenticeships’, ‘Your Life’, ‘Your Career’, ‘Your Future’, ‘Employer Engagement Series’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment:’, ‘ACRNpayment@health.gov.au or search on health.gov.au’, ‘Aged Care Engagement Hub:’, ‘agedcareengagement.health.gov.au’, ‘health.gov.au/working-in-aged-care’]

[End of Transcript]

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