Webinar recording – Supporting VIC and TAS home care providers to recruit and train personal care workers

This recording is of the supporting VIC and TAS home care providers to recruit and train personal care workers webinar that was held on 16 March 2023.


Andrew Dunbar:

Good afternoon everyone and thank you very much for attending our webinar on the Home Care Workforce Support Program.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners on the land on which we meet today. For me personally that’s beautiful Ngunnawal country in the national capital. I’d also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.

My name’s Andy Dunbar and I’m an Assistant Director within the Workforce Training section in the Department of Health and Aged Care Workforce Branch.

The purpose of today’s webinar is to provide information to yourselves as aged care providers on our Home Care Program and how it can help you to attract personal care workers to the sector. First off we’ll be providing an introduction of the program, what it aims to do and how it can benefit your organisation. You’ll then hear from our Victoria and Tasmania consortium which is made up of the Aged and Community Care Providers Association or ACCPA. If I refer to them like that apologies. Just know that’s who I’m talking about. And their partners the Human Services Skills Organisation or HSSO and PowerHouse Hub on what they’re doing to attract, train and retain new personal care workers to the home care sector.

ACCPA today will be represented by Belinda Allen who’s the General Manager, Sector Support and Capacity and Jodi Schmidt who’s the Chief Executive Officer of the HSSO.

They’ll be presenting some case studies that you can hear from providers and participants about their experiences within the program and then overseeing a Q&A session at the end which will have both our grant recipients and ourselves here to answer questions. So we encourage you to ask any that you may have about the program. If you want to you can use the Slido feature which will be on the right hand side of your screen. If it’s not there you should be able to follow a link and open up in the browser. Just pop any questions into there as we go and we’ll endeavour to get to them all. If we don’t we’ll address them as part of a follow up. And absolutely we’ve got everyone on a distribution list here. We will follow up with a range of things including resources, links, anything like that. So yeah don’t be afraid to leave anything off the table. Please ask those questions. We’ll just move to the next slide please team.

So the Home Care Workforce Support program aims to grow the home care workforce by supporting providers to attract, train and retain new and existing workers into the aged care sector. The program is funding six organisations or consortia to support providers to grow the workforce by 13,000 new personal care workers nationally. The organisations we’re funding are the Council on the Ageing and their consortium partners for Queensland, Settlement Services International for the ACT and New South Wales, Aged and Community Care Providers Association and their consortium partners for Victoria and Tasmania who you’ll be hearing from shortly, North Metro TAFE and their consortium partners for Western Australia, Apprenticeship Careers Australia for South Australia and the Northern Territory, and we have the National Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation who are undertaking work in a range of regional and remote communities.

These organisations will support home care providers with activities to attract and recruit new personal care workers to the sector as well as helping with capacity building so your existing staff can supervise and train them on the job. Key tasks include promotional activities to raise awareness of care opportunities in the sector, screening potential candidates for the right skills and attributes and getting candidates work ready through the provision of pre-employment training. They’ll also support new personal care workers to complete high quality training including facilitating access to subsidies to support that training, supporting work placement opportunities and providing outreach services to new starters.

There will also be a short survey at the end of this webinar and we’d appreciate your responses. Simply a few questions about the webinar itself. It takes less than a minute to complete so please do that before wrapping up.

Okay. Next slide. So this is just an opportunity to draw your attention to a program within the Department which aims to improve the training, skills and qualifications for personal care workers, the Equip Aged Care Learning Modules. They are currently being developed by the University of Tasmania led by the Dementia Research and Education Centre there to develop a series of short online modules to help develop the skills and capability of aged care workers. The Equip Aged Care Learning Modules cover a range of topics that include dementia care, palliative and end of life care, trauma informed care, wound management, cross-cultural awareness, oral health, mental health and wellbeing and falls management.

This program is available free of charge to aged care workers, volunteers, care givers, people supporting loved ones and anyone with an interest in improving care for older adults. The program launched in October 2022 and further content will be rolled out progressively. All the modules will be available from May 2023 and you can access more information about that at the website www.equiplearning.utas.edu.au. And like I said we’ll send that out as part of a follow up after this so that everyone can get the link.

And then we also like to remind you of the care and support campaign. So this is just a reminder of the Government’s ‘A Life Changing Life’ campaign which is still underway and aims to generate interest in the care and support sector including the aged care, disability support and veterans care. It’s been relaunched and shares stories of people who work in the various care sectors. There’s a range of resources and links in there that may be useful to you as employees as well as potential workers in the sector and that can be accessed via careandsupportjobs.gov.au/resources.

I’d now like to introduce Belinda and Jodi who as I mentioned are representatives from our Victoria and Tasmania consortium ACCPA and their partners today. Belinda Allen has recently joined ACCPA as the General Manager for Services and Sector Capacity. She has more than 20 years’ experience in for purpose organisations spanning across Government, corporate and not for profit settings. Belinda came to ACCPA from the disability sector where she held the position of Director of member services and marketing for National Disability Services, the peak body for disability service providers.

And we’ve also got the CEO of the Human Services Skills Organisation Jodi who leads care initiatives to strengthen skills and workforce development in the human services and early childhood and education sectors. HSSO’s bio reads that they engage with employers, peak and industry bodies and all levels of Government to develop evidence‑based solutions to deliver the skilled and adaptable workforce the sector needs. Jodi has an impressive track record as an executive in both public and private enterprises in Australia and internationally and has been privileged to lead business transformation projects, develop and implement significant Government policy and lead major reforms. I’ll now hand it over to Belinda and Jodi to discuss how their work can help your organisation meet its workforce needs.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Home Care Careers’, ‘by ACCPA’, ‘HSSO’, ‘PowerHouse Hub’, ‘Supporting Victorian and Tasmania Home Care Providers Webinar’, ‘16 March, 2023’, ‘Stephanie’, ‘Personal Care Worker’, with a photograph of a lady in a dark blue polo shirt smiling at camera]

Belinda Allen:

Thank you so much Andy for that warm welcome today. As mentioned my name is Belinda Allen. I’m the General Manager for Services and Sector Capacity at ACCPA.

I’m speaking, or both of us are actually speaking with you from Ngunnawal country in Canberra today. So I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional custodians on the various sites from which we meet and I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I also acknowledge the importance of the ongoing work of reconciliation throughout our country.

Just ask you to move to the next slide if that’s okay Michelle.

Thank you. So I think Andy’s provided a really strong overview of what the Home Care Workforce Support Program is doing and that it has various groups managing programs across the country. There are four main pillars to the program that we’re doing here in Victoria and Tasmania and those pillars are to attract, recruit, retain and support. The Victorian and Tasmanian program is delivered by a consortium which consists of ACCPA, the Human Services and Skills Organisation, or HSSO as we refer to it, and PowerHouse Hub. And we’ve come together for very important reasons because essentially we come from different backgrounds in the sense that we’re able to work together really well to support both candidates, providers and other stakeholders in the program. So we’ll talk to you a little bit more about that as we progress.

The program is funded until June 2024 and so all of the supports that we provide in this webinar today are absolutely free for providers within Victoria and Tasmania.

So I’ll hand over to Jodi to talk a little bit about the attract part of our program.

Jodi Schmidt:

Thanks Belinda and hello everybody. I’ll also acknowledge the traditional owners and the Ngunnawal people as is appropriate.

As Andrew said in the introduction the Home Care Workforce Support Program – I can never get that right – or as we call it, Home Care Careers – you can find our information at homecarecareers.com.au – we have the focus of the Victoria and the Tasmanian coverage but we work collectively hopefully across the states with the six total grant recipients. Our target in terms of bringing new entrants into the sector through this project is 3,920 individuals and to also make sure that we’re engaging with 80% of providers. And that’s why this webinar hosted by the Department is very important.

As Andrew may have mentioned the roles that we’re looking to fill for you – and we should view this as a recruitment exercise where we have the ability to find suitable candidates, pre-screen them and then present them to you for your consideration to add to your staff – personal care workers, enrolled nurses, allied health assistants are prescribed in the program but increasingly we’re finding roles for domestic assistants and other roles that you may have in your organisation.

We’ve tried to make ourselves as available as possible to date. Engagement has been 60% of home care providers across both states. We have tried to use contact information provided by the Department to make contact with every provider. And as our team grows and builds and works out in the regions of Victoria and Tasmania we’re working around and wanting to speak with you about what your requirements are in terms of staffing. We know as well as you do that workforce shortages in this space is the number one issue that’s facing you as organisations. Thanks Michelle.

Our approach to this – and of course we’ve been involved, both ACCPA and the HSSO, in a number of the Government campaigns around trying to attract new blood to the system – is to really focus on attraction. And we have a full timeframe across the project an attraction campaign running in market with media buys across a range of different media with our particular campaign. We took a real good think about how we can work with the appropriate marketing company to get the right messages to individuals who might be considering career changes, starting on their career or perhaps studying or perhaps at the end of their working life and looking for work. And we know that there is a dearth of individuals who are interested in that at this point in time.

So our campaign ‘Is care in your DNA’ seeks to talk to individuals’ values and what they might get from a career in home care or working in home care. And as you all know it is a values‑based role, it’s a values‑based profession and they’re the things that people will take away. And so we’ve tried to emphasise that through our attraction campaign.

I guess in doing so we have tried to make sure that we’re reaching a number of target markets and so we’re working across bus backs, digital TV, Google ads, regional print, social media, cinema and radio. And as you’ll see later on we’re getting a lot of eyeballs in terms of traffic and that’s converting increasingly into registrations with our platform.

But first we might just give you a show of our 30 second ad and ask Michelle and wish her luck in terms of making it work over video.


(Music Playing)

[The visuals during this video are of personal care workers assisting people in different ways such as changing a lightbulb, assisting with an umbrella, delivering food and applying makeup, with texting saying ‘Care comes naturally to some’, ‘It’s a unique ability to put someone else first’, ‘to lend a hand and connect’, ‘Care is rare. Those who have it are special’]

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘If care is in your DNA, consider a career in home care’]

[Visual of slides each with an image of a different person with text saying ‘Seeking Personal Care Workers’, ‘Seeking Allied Health Assistants’, ‘Seeking Enrolled Nurses’]

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘home care careers’, ‘Home Care Careers’]


Thanks Michelle. Good job. As we move back to the slide presentation we have tried to produce an authentic and sincere marketing campaign and certainly work through a pre-screening process that ensures that candidates know what the environment looks like that they’re working in and what the key functions of their role will be.

We as part of our campaign have been highlighting the stories of placed candidates throughout our channels and media and we’ll show you some examples of that. Of course the slides probably not the easiest to see for you today but will be distributed I hope to all of you for future reference and that will give you the ability to read the content.

At the centre of our approach is a platform where we are collecting all the pre-employment details and data of our candidates in order to make them ready for you and for you to understand what skills, credentials and experience that they have. What it also does for us is give us some research findings and be able to identify where the best places for us to find individuals and to attract them are. Experience so far would see that heavy use of repeat advertising particularly in the digital space in TV, as in playback TV and social channels is getting the best results for us at this point in time.

If we move on to the next slide our candidates are coming from all walks of life but certainly we are profiling and as you would expect female applicants are in the majority and there’s some stories there that you can access at our site homecarecareers.com.au around individuals and the experience that they’ve had thus far. And that helps us to attract other candidates of course.

If we move forward again Michelle. Our recruitment approach to give you some detail. We of course are using the campaign to top up the top of the funnel with as many candidates as we can. We encourage those candidates to register via a portal or at least give us their name and contact details. We then have a team of talent acquisition consultants who contact that candidate and help them to put together if necessary resumes, previous experience and a profile of who they are through their account, uploading their resume and adding a whole heap of information.

We do that both face to face and/or on the phone because it’s critical that we’re capturing and giving people the best chance to put their information forward as they come from all sorts of walks of life. Then we’re really focused on pre-screening and determining suitability. Suitability will be about availability, geography, what their accessibility is, driver’s licence requirements and the like. We’re undertaking some high level psychometrics using the care advantage piece of work which I’ll talk about a little bit later. And we’re matching them to employer requirements. I’ll talk about how we’re engaging with providers and so will Belinda in a little while but in essence we are taking a full brief on what your requirements are in terms of your staffing, numbers, location, skillsets, specifically specialties that you might require and then working to brief in that regard. We’re also collecting at the same time those pesky compliance requirements and things that often create the slowness between appointment to deploying staff in the real environment.

As specialists work with stakeholders across the frame of individuals that are working together, to make a program like this work we need to be connected with registered training organisations, with Workforce Australia providers, with all of the parts of the infrastructure that is there to support new entrants into this sector. And we’re making sure that we’re on the ground, have connections in those organisations and are bringing those pools of candidates, jobseekers and the like together.

Where of course candidates don’t have experience or they don’t have any skills developed yet we offer a range, including the Wicking stuff that Andrew just talked about from the University of Tasmania, right through to working with RTOs, placing trainees in your organisations and ensuring that they’re on a pathway to have the skills to be productive in your businesses.

Lastly in terms of suitability certainly the work that we do in the HSSO – and I know that ACCPA do this too – talk to you about what’s critical around what individuals have before they work for you, suitability in terms of their values, and what they’ll bring to the role is one of the critical issues that’s more important than training. And so the care advantage tool gives us a good insight and it comes to you as part of the process into the three critical things that the care advantage tool suggests that are indicative of success in the sector. Of course it is around dependability of the individual, integrity of the individual that they’ll do the right thing, and their levels of perhaps negative behaviour in terms of hostility. And every candidate who comes through our program is undertaking that assessment that will add to that dossier of their details that you can rely on in terms of make decisions.

I’ll now hand back to Belinda so that she can talk about how we undertake retention.

Belinda Allen:

Would you mind moving to the next slide please Michelle. There’s an additional slide just that gives a bit of summary of what Jodi just spoke through and that is a profile of our candidates. So we know that most of our candidates are females, they’re over the age of 45. So they tend to be women who perhaps have raised families, are looking to re-enter the workforce, perhaps they’re attracted by the flexibility offered by aged care. And it’s not to say that’s the only group that we are targeting as part of this campaign but that’s certainly what we’re seeing most of at the moment.

We do know – and I will talk to this a little bit later as well – that if candidates don’t hear back from an employer very quickly or even our teams very quickly throughout this process it’s such a tight market at the moment that they will go elsewhere. We know there’s so much competition with retail, with other health sectors. My background was disability. I can tell you the disability sector will jump in and grab those candidates if they can. It’s absolutely critical that if we have somebody who is interested in entering the aged care sector and we have done our screening and they’re ready to go that we do action that as quickly as we possibly can. Our colleague who is running the Queensland program referred to candidates as unicorns and I couldn’t agree more. We have to make sure that if we find the right people and we’re able to place them that we do so.

We are finding that most of our candidates are unqualified but eager. And so again from the marketing that you would have seen shown earlier that that is what we are trying to cultivate. That is the audience that we’re having most success with at the moment. And then we take them on a journey to ideally upskill.

And I think it’s probably enough just to jump over to the next slide. And I will talk a little bit about just some of those engagement pieces that Jodi touched on.

So we certainly know that it is a system that we’re working within so we are doing a lot of work with providers, we’re doing a lot of work with candidates and we are working with RTOs. So I’ll talk briefly about what we’re doing with each of those groups and then sort of jump a little bit more into the retention support services offered through the program.

But first and foremost the employers that we’re working with are fairly broad. There’s 108 providers who have registered for recruitment with us. I noticed one of the questions that has come through already today was essentially ‘How can I get involved? How can I receive staff through this program?’ First and foremost you need to register. So you can do so via the website which is homecarecareers.com.au. But you don’t need to register for recruitment to be involved in the program. So I think it was Andy who earlier mentioned that there’s a number of products and services that you can access through our program without necessarily registering for recruitment.

So we have 108 providers currently registered for recruitment and there’s 90 providers who are registered for free products and services. 87 of those are currently from Victoria and 28 are registered from Tasmania. And I think the most important piece for us to communicate today is we would love to work with more employers. So if this is something that you would like to do, even if you just want to hear a little bit more about the program, specifically that tailored approach that Jodi just spoke to, please register on our website so we can reach out to you and have that conversation.

Talking a little bit about the employee engagement that we do.

So just moving on to the next slide. The candidate journey starts once the candidate has been offered a role with an organisation and they’ve signed that contract. We send them an initial welcome email. We outline the project, let the candidate know that we’re there to support them and we will do so via email, surveys and phone calls to check in. And we actually do that throughout the entire first 12 months of their placement. And so what we’ll do is periodically check in. We’ll check in at the end of the first day, we’ll check in at the end of the first week, first month, the second month, the third month and then finally at the six and 12 month mark. And the reason why we do that is we believe it’s really important to make that candidate feel really welcome first and foremost in an organisation. It’s not to say of course that you as a provider won’t do that but we’re trying to support your recruitment process here. So we’ll take a little bit of that workload off you and make sure that that candidate is feeling really comfortable in their new role and ideally wants to stay in the aged care sector as a career.

So generally the way that we’ll do that is we will send short, sharp surveys and they will consist of some sort of standard scalable questions as well as some open-ended questions. And they’ll be questions like ‘I feel valued as an employee’ and they’ll measure that on a scale of 1 to 5 as an example. What we’ll do is then take that feedback on and realistically benchmark it against some of the other candidates that we’re working with to understand how this intake is progressing. But we’ll also share some of that information with the employer so that together we can work with you to make sure that it’s the best experience for both you as a provider and that candidate who has just come into the organisation. So that ability to check in with that candidate is critical for the ongoing maintenance of their career within your organisation.

I’ll also just touch quickly on RTO engagement. I am conscious of time. So at the moment we have engaged with 70 RTOs and TAFEs and we have 20 trainees set to begin their Cert III course in April. And what we do know is having access to the right training at the right time is vital in building the home care workforce. So I do also say if you have the ability to do some training and you’d like to work with us in this program please also reach out because we’re certainly happy to have continued conversations with RTOs as well.

So the retention support services are really critical as part of this program and there’s a few things that we do. Firstly there’s the introduction to aged care. So this is sort of a secondary piece with a candidate following as Jodi mentioned sort of the values-based recruitment process. We want to make sure that that employee understands firstly what to look for from an employer but also how they can do their job well, what exactly does their job entail, what are they expected to do on the job. And we know that most of the candidates haven’t come from an aged care environment so it’s quite critical for us to support providers with that information so that you don’t have to double handle that. You can get the candidate and get them straight onto the job.

In terms of employee engagement I’ve already spoken to what we do to make sure that that candidate is supported in their journey with you but there’s also a retention reward scheme that forms part of our service to you as well.

Michelle if we could jump to the next slide I’ll go into a bit more depth on the introduction to aged care. And I think that Theodore Roosevelt once said no one cares about what you know until they know how much you care about it. And I think that’s quite critical for the aged care sector because it’s that ability to care first and foremost that we’re trying to build on. So we know that training is absolutely critical. We know that skill building is critical but we firstly want to make sure that they really understand the basics, the core of the work that we do in this sector.

So the way that we introduce to aged care is via our online learning platform and there are certainly a lot of topics around wellbeing and community and social connection and safety and access but we then progress to more formal training options as well. And there is that pathway to the Cert III.

Jumping over to the next slide we do offer employers a range of products and services to support them with taking on new candidates. Certainly there’s a number of toolkits that are in development at the moment. I’ll talk to them in a moment. But we do offer what we call Right Start Mentoring. So that is from the beginning of placement the ability for that candidate to receive that ongoing support. And we also offer organisations the ability to participate in what we call a peer support culture workshop which again is supporting your existing staff in the organisation to help train new candidates as they enter the organisation.

We do have some formal training packages which are called Enhancing Organisational Culture and Developing Frontline Leaders and they are very much in that bite size learning style. So there’s ten by ten modules and they’re ten minutes each hence the ten by ten. And the idea is that those leaders within your organisation can view that material quite quickly even from their mobile phone. You could also use some of those resources to develop some career pathway style activities for those new candidates if you wish as well.

So the onboarding and induction toolkits that I mentioned are still in development and we’re designing them specifically for regional and remote providers in Victoria and Tasmania. We would welcome any feedback from regional and remote providers who might be on the line today too to help finalise those. It’s critical for us that we’re not just developing material that we think is needed by the sector. We want to ensure that that is tested by providers and that we receive that input from you. We do know that these induction toolkits are quite critical but again we’re just wanting to make sure they’re fit for purpose. So if anybody is in regional and remote areas please reach out to Jodi and I. We’d love to hear from you.

The Retention Reward Scheme that I mentioned is a financial incentive for candidates who stay in their role for a set period of time. It consists of a gift card. So it’s not cash. It’s actually a gift card. And a candidate will receive that gift card once they complete their first three months, and it’s a $200 gift card at that point, and if they go on to complete six months they receive a further $300 gift card. Happy to talk to that a little bit with some questions.

So before we do get to our provider case study I think it’s really important to talk a little bit about what’s happening with providers at the moment. And I think one of the issues that has arisen is just the ability for providers to respond to candidates quickly enough sometimes. So as I mentioned they are a unicorn. We all know that workforce is the biggest issue as Jodi mentioned. We all know that finding the right candidates is absolutely difficult particularly in Victoria who has just come from years of COVID lockdowns, they are still recovering, and in Tasmania which is one of the thinnest markets for finding candidates. So it’s not the easiest task and when we do find them we really need to action the employment for those candidates as quickly as possible. So we do ask providers who are working with us to try to reduce that turnaround as much as possible.

Saying that we do recognise that our providers are in a very difficult position. They’re looking for staff because they are doing multiple roles. They don’t have enough staff to be able to action some of the activities we need. But to participate in the program and get the most from it that will take you prioritising those candidates where feasible. So we do ask that we’re able to advance from interview to offer within one week and we do realistically ask that you also take on or at least review some of the services and programs that we offer so that once a candidate is placed we can retain them. There is no point giving you lots of candidates and having them walk straight out the door again. So there is a few processes that we want to work with you on and we do ask for the time to do so.

I’ll now just jump on to the provider case study and then we can open up for questions and I’ll also encourage Jodi just to make some final remarks as well. But this particular case study Colbrow Care I think highlights the value of the pre-screening that Jodi mentioned earlier and the end to end support that is available for employers. So this is the words of one of the employers that we have been working with. We also have a number of case studies from candidates detailing why they chose to enter the aged care sector, what is their background and what were they looking for from both a career in aged care but also from an employer. So we do encourage you to go and read those because that will give you more insight as to the types of candidates that we are able to place.

But with Colbrow Care we also worked really closely with them to ensure that from day one that retention piece was top of mind. So again the success for this particular organisation was that investment in that candidate. Not just placing them but understanding that there was that upskilling and on the job support that was needed from their side as well. And I think that’s the kind of work that certainly Jodi and I are really engaged in at the moment but the type of impact that we want to see on the ground with the sector moving forward.

My colleague Phillipa has just popped that website in the chat for you as well. Again it’s homecarecareers.com.au.

Would you like to say anything there? Have I missed anything Jodi that you’d like to add?

Jodi Schmidt:

I think the questions will help us to have the discussion. But we know that the biggest challenge to the human services sectors coming down the line is shortages in workforce. It’s a time where there is competition for all labour in this country and the most populist job in the coming years will be aged care worker or home care worker in that regard. So we’re here and we’re ready to partner with you to try to address some of the issues that we know are hindering your business, the ability for home care packages to be released and for older aged people to access the services that they need in order to live their lives.

So let’s get into the questions.

Andrew Dunbar:

So we’ll kick off with one that I’ve got here. First one is:

Q: What qualifications should personal care workers have?

So I think this is probably one that both parties can answer here and I know Jodi’s got an opinion on this. So I will throw it over in a second but I’ll just talk from the Government’s perspective. Obviously the recommendations from the final report into the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety had a position that we want a skilled and capable aged care workforce and part of that is having formal qualifications but at this point in time there is no minimum qualification to work as a personal care worker. Jodi?

Jodi Schmidt:

What we’re finding Andrew – and I’m happy to answer the question as you know – is that Victorian providers particularly but also in Tasmania are looking for individuals with a Cert III in individual support. And whilst I come from the training sector I think that that’s a great outcome and something that should happen.

I don’t think it’s the right entry pathway for individuals at this point in time. What we will work with you to achieve is the right skills for the individual to be able to be productive in your staff in the first instance, entry to care role skillset, our introduction to aged care, some of the Wicking programs and then work with you to provide that onboarding piece which is really critical, and then to think about the options depending on who you are as an organisation as to which way is the best way to create a training program or a set of training programs or learning for your staff.

Home care is difficult to do that because you’re talking about deploying staff largely in teams of one to people’s homes. But it’s one of those things that we need to work together to address if we’re going to have a skilled workforce. So I think in the longer term what is successful and what we know from research around the globe is that in order to retain people you need to give them access to pathways, to increased knowledge, to additional skills and to what works for them in terms of what their ambition is. So some of the ability to retain staff over the long term will be how you give an employee value proposition to your employees.

Belinda Allen:

And in fact that’s one of the other resources that an employer can access via the Home Care Careers website is how to become an employer of choice and what that pathway may look like for candidates who perhaps don’t have that Cert III initially. I think it’s ideal but it’s not the market we’re operating in at the moment.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you both. The next question I’ve got is:

Q: What assistance is on offer to help older Australians entering the workforce and overcome the technology barrier particularly the experience in the home care sector?

Jodi Schmidt:

In our program nothing specific but of course there is a range of programs available to assist with increasing your computer literacy skills that our staff would refer individuals to. I think increasingly there is a range of providers I know particularly in aged care and in home care and in Victoria who we could have assist in terms of building those skills. What we find though is you’re talking about a workforce that are 45 to 65 perhaps at this point in time. Although I do know that one of our colleagues has had an appointment of an individual who’s 80 and is doing very well. Where that need exists and there is appetite we will seek to fill the gap because that is the level that we’re at in terms of trying to match workers to providers.

Belinda Allen:

We certainly don’t want technology to be a barrier. And ACCPA’s also working on a lot of digital literacy programs but as Jodi suggests there’s quite a lot in the market and so we refer to them as needed.

Andrew Dunbar:

I’ve got one here.

Q: Are CHSP providers able to access the service?

So I’ll answer that one. Currently no. Originally when the program was designed it was intended to clear the backlog for home care packages. But I say watch this space. Things are under consideration and we’ll let you know as soon as that potentially changes. It’s under consideration now so we’ll hopefully have an answer on that one soon.

We’ve got a good question here about:

Q: How would you go about attracting workers in regional towns where there are only two to three weekly Seek applicants?

Jodi Schmidt:

Thanks Andy. Leveraging work that we’ve done in other sectors particularly disability we’re about to do a series of regional events across Victoria and we’ve already run a number of regional events in Tasmania, where we’re bringing together Workforce Australia, employment services providers, RTOs who will have students, all interested parties to have forums, and if you would, stimulate potential candidates to engage with and match with employers in situ. So it’s a two day event. It’s well managed and prepped and we’re going to complement that with local activation in terms of meeting with community groups, advertising locally. The schedule of those events will start in April but they will be on the Home Care Careers site advertised widely.

We are engaging with providers who are already registered with us to attend those and then working across the broader stakeholders group to make sure that we’re maximising it. Indications of the first one in terms of its attendance and activation is really promising and it leverages others that are happening across New South Wales, Queensland and the like.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks Jodi. We’ve got the next question.

Q: Can applicants employed directly with agencies tap into the services you’re offering such as training, retention, reward? How and from what date?

Jodi Schmidt:

I think it’s more of a question for you Andy. I expect that really this is a program funded by Government for individuals to be employed directly with employers rather than with agencies. So without asking the Department I would have to suggest that the answer is no. But if you have agency staff who are looking for direct engagement with employers we’d be happy to help those candidates to be placed on a more permanent basis.

Andrew Dunbar:

At this stage I think with existing staff it is a watch this space. And again this is part of that broader consideration around the scope that includes CHSP providers. So just please stay engaged and abreast of the program. And as these sort of changes or adaptation of scope are implemented we’ll let you know.

The next question.

Q: Will the modules be available to import to our learning management system?

Which I am assuming relates to the Equip Learning Modules. And the answer to that I believe is yes. They’re publicly available.

Belinda Allen:

Yeah. I believe so. So it’s just a matter of working with those files to embed into your LMS. Again please reach out and we can work through that process with you.

Jodi Schmidt:

If we just clarify. I think what Andy was referring to was the UTAS ones. They’ll be publicly available by the UTAS LMS but I expect that you can link from your LMS as a provider to that public access. And I think it’s probably variable for your answer similarly Belinda. But I think the barriers to access things could be overcome.

Belinda Allen:

Absolutely. Yeah sorry. I was referring to the retention.

Jodi Schmidt:

And of course noting it in LMS against individuals’ training records.

Andrew Dunbar:

Q: Do you offer any specific assistance for the CALD community?

Jodi Schmidt:

Yes. Absolutely. So many candidates are coming from CALD communities and the support for language, literacy and numeracy or other supports in fact – I saw in the chat before there are issues around housing, there are issues that are bound in this space around a range of things. All of them are on the agenda to be addressed. There are limitations to what we can do. There is no doubt. But absolutely we have connections where language, literacy and numeracy support can be provided to candidates as part of this process.

As you’ve said at the beginning Andy this is about the Government sponsoring this process to get the right training to the individuals who are right to do the work to actually work for home care providers who desperately need to deliver service.

Belinda Allen:

And I think that’s the real beauty of the aged care workforce. It is incredibly diverse. So our tailored approach to working side by side with candidates and providers ensures that regardless of the needs of both the provider and the candidate we’re able to work closely to essentially make the transition as easy as possible for them.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks. I’ve got I guess a similarly themed question and I’ll probably try and ask it. They’ve just got one similar to that.

Q: What’s the approach for First Nations re cultural safety and cultural competency? Have you got anything built into the process for that?

Jodi Schmidt:

You would have heard Belinda refer to the First Nations toolkit that we are sharing with providers to help to achieve cultural competency and cultural awareness and safety for First Nations applicants. And that’s certainly part of our artillery in terms of how we deal with candidates, work with them in terms of their suitability and voicing those things, understanding who the employers are, what the environment looks like, and is the match the right place for the individual.

Belinda Allen:

And again we’re in the process of finalising some work with those toolkits that we’re really keen to codesign with providers who are regional or remote. Please reach out.

Andrew Dunbar:

Q: Can you provide a bit more information around the advertising and recruitment strategies in areas with low digital literacy or technology access?

Jodi Schmidt:

Yeah. So we’ve had trams in Melbourne, bus backs in regional Victoria, news print we will use, cinemas we have used, radio we have used. Of course the bulk of our activity is going to digital and other frames but when we say digital it’s recast TV, the things that everyone are now accessing in terms of eyeballs in media. Yes there is a high social quotient. The high social quotient activates and accesses those individuals up to 35 or if you’re a pretty good Gen X maybe 45. But we’re getting lots of traction in that regard. And one of the things that we know from our research in the HSSO is that we need to increase the number of workers under 40 if we’re going to be successful in terms of making sure that we’re staffing all services. So working with schools, school students who are finished, those who are at university and looking for work. They’re all part of our target audience in terms of placing people into services.

Belinda Allen:

We certainly take an agile approach to this project. So what’s really important to us is to really measure the activities that we’re undertaking and adjust according to what we’re seeing. So we will make sure that our marketing strategy covers as Jodi suggested a number of formats but we are monitoring very carefully where the candidates are actually coming from and interestingly they are coming at the moment more from the digital space. So that doesn’t mean that we’re going to pivot and only look after the digital space. We will continue to do both. But there’s a lot of learnings that are coming from those activities alone. So happy to speak to employers about that through the retention services team in terms of how do we find those candidates and what we expect in terms of digital literacy, because I think that also supports some of the training that organisations will do with that candidate ongoing. But certainly it hasn’t seemed to be something that has stopped candidates from entering the sector at the moment. They are coming more through those digital channels right now.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you very much. We’ve got someone from Swan Hill who has sort of noted they have a significant workforce shortage currently and they’re I guess asking what can you do in a region like that that’s obviously quite remote? I guess what’s on offer in that space that can help them to meet what is obviously a rather significant workforce shortage?

Jodi Schmidt:

So we are active in terms of all communities. We have built a database that shows us all current students enrolled in programs across Victoria by postcode and we can overlay that with home care packages in terms of what we’re looking at. When candidates register they are able to register for their geography and we’re maintaining talent pools across geography. And so we will have an individual to individual discussion around what their availability is, their availability to travel if that’s possible or otherwise. But I would expect that in Swan Hill we would have to look at our platform to see what we have on our books but if we’re engaging with a provider we then tailor an advert, we put it on Seek, we put it on social media, we engage in the local community specifically to run a campaign for you as a provider like we were taking a recruitment brief. And that’s the way we would approach it.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you Jodi.

Someone’s asked:

Q: Are you able to advise where these people are to help us recruit given it’s currently the lowest unemployment rate that I’ve experienced?

Jodi Schmidt:

I guess it’s the same answer Andy. We hold the details of our candidates by geography, where they live, where they’re able to move themselves to, and of course to talk to them in more depth if we were looking for real remote. I guess the work that certainly the HSSO does but I know ACCPA does too is working with remote and regional challenges around attracting individuals to jobs that perhaps aren’t getting the foot traffic in terms of applicants. So specific instances would need a specific discussion.

Belinda Allen:

It is a very localised and tailored approach that we take. So again just reiterating Jodi’s comments. We will work very closely with the employer and look for candidates based on their needs. It’s not a one size fits all or bulk recruitment process in any way.

Andrew Dunbar:

No worries. We’ve got a question about:

Q: Is there a structured model around traineeships, any approach like that that you can provide?

Jodi Schmidt:

So we have partnered with an Australian Apprenticeship Service Network provider so that we can sign up traineeships across multiple RTOs in a swift way. We are putting together, and Belinda’s slide alluded to it, groups of trainees working together so there can be camaraderie around those traineeships. We can work across multi-employer traineeships or single employee traineeships if you have the quantum to be able to run them inside your organisation. We can support you in terms of supervision, access to RTOs and the like. So it really does come down to what’s the current situation for you as a provider and how might we use our know how of bits of that infrastructure to work to your benefit.

Some of the resources that you find on the HSSO website like the How to Engage Guide is how providers can engage with RTOs to get the best training offer in that regard for instance. How can we support mandatory work placement in a way that works for you? Critical issue for home care. That’s the kind of advice and expertise you have access to through this partnership and this consortium.

Andrew Dunbar:

Next question. There’s a couple in line with this. It’d double barrelled sorry, just quickly.

Q: When can I start using this service and are there any extra fees?

Andrew Dunbar:

Andrew’s already paid all the money required for the program. No. The Department of Health of course has sponsored this. That was the opening slides. We are funded through until March 2024, finishing in June 2024 and in essence it is recruitment for you funded by the Government. As soon as you register we’ll be in contact to have a meeting with you. We will want to know what are the workers that you want, what are the skills that they need, what are your requirements for onboarding etcetera. We’ll be wanting to influence you around the things that are critical to us. Timeframe for response, recognising you’re competing with other sectors for the same workforce, that we need to move quickly, that we need to agree what we’re looking for in terms of a prospect.

And one of the critical things is if people are looking for 20 hours a week or full time work and you’re looking to offer hours of work for a period of time we have to recognise that there will be an impact on the opportunity cost for the individual, to give greater light to that. If we move a candidate through with an expectation of nearly full time employment and what they get is five hours a week for the first three weeks then we’re definitely going to lose that candidate. And whilst we understand the logistical challenges that you have as a home care provider we’d like to work with you on how we make it an attractive proposition to hold on to the workforce, to make sure that they’re quality candidates and quality employees for you, but also to make sure that we don’t lose them.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks. And I think we’ve sort of got time for maybe just one more. The question that I’ve got here is:

Q: Is there a list of registered training organisations that you’re already involved with?

Jodi Schmidt:

There is a list internally of course. We are open to working with any RTO who delivers the appropriate qualifications. There will be differences in funding availability in terms of undertaking training depending on who they are and what they are. What we’re looking to do is to create partnerships with those RTOs and we will give you access to those arrangements that we have negotiated with them in some instances or in fact just refer you to them depending on what your preference is. We have officers working full time working with RTOs not only to access their students who are already in flight but their graduates who may be looking for work and then conversely to open up opportunities for those RTOs to have your employees as their students.

Andrew Dunbar:

Great. All right. Well thank you very much Jodi and Belinda this afternoon. It’s much appreciated. And thank you very much to everyone who tuned in. Like I said we’ll follow up. We’ll answer any questions that may have been missed somewhere in the ether. We’ll go through the chat. We’ll try and collect everything, make sure nothing gets left off. And yeah we’ll follow up with links, slides, relevant information. All of this will actually be available on the Department’s Engagement Hub as well. So please just watch this space like I said. There’s things in train that might broaden the scope or make this more relevant to your organisation than it currently is. So yeah thank you very much for sticking with us this afternoon and we hope that you’ll be reaching out to Belinda and Jodi soon.

Jodi Schmidt:

Thanks Andy.

Belinda Allen:

Thank you so much.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you.

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