Recording and transcript
Good morning and thank you for attending today’s webinar. I’m Stephanie Kaiser, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Aged Care Workforce Branch in the Department of Health and Aged Care and I’ll be co-hosting this event with Chris Montgomery from the Immigration Outreach and Engagement Branch in the Department of Home Affairs.
I’d like to begin with an acknowledgment of country. I acknowledge the traditional owners on whose land we meet today and I’d like to pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I’m based in Canberra today on Ngunnawal land but I acknowledge that many of you are joining us from across different parts of Australia.
Today’s webinar will explain how the aged care providers can use the new Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement to recruit direct care workers from overseas to address critical workforce shortages. It will be an opportunity to hear from the Department of Home Affairs, the skills assessment bodies and the unions involved with the MoU process as well as Curtin Heritage, the first provider to use this new Industry Labour Agreement. The Labour Agreement is a really exciting development and the kind of solution I know many of you have been waiting for with anticipation. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of everyone involved in contributing to this welcome outcome for the aged care sector and in supporting its successful implementation.
Of course while migration will continue to play a complementary role in relieving workforce pressures in the sector the Government is prioritising its investment in measures that promote increased recruitment and retention of the domestic aged care workforce. Before we get started on the details of the Labour Agreement I want to briefly remind you of what else we are doing to boost the aged care workforce.
There are programs such as the Aged Care Transition to Practice Program, the Home Care Workforce Support Program and of course the Government’s investment of $11.3 billion in increased wages for the sector. More information about all of these programs and others are available on the Aged Care website. Just scan the QR code on the slide.
I’d now like to hand over to Chris Montgomery who will lead you through the remainder of the session. Thank you.
Thanks Stephanie. Good morning everyone and thanks for dialling in. Turn now to the Industry Agreement itself and the main focus of today’s session and we’re talking about the new Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement developed by the Government to streamline the recruitment of qualified overseas care workers to work in the aged care sector.
For those of you unfamiliar with Labour Agreements effectively they are agreements between employers and Home Affairs representing the Commonwealth to enable approved businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers when they have a workforce shortage that can’t be met by Australian workers or standard visa programs. In this case the Aged Care Industry Agreement enables sponsorship of roles which would normally fall below the skill and salary levels that qualify for standard skilled migration programs. So those occupations are the aged and disabled carer, nursing support worker and personal care assistant occupations. Importantly this includes a pathway to permanent residence for your sponsored workers and in addition to rendering those occupations eligible for sponsored visas the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement also includes a number of concessions on standard visa requirements which I’ll expand on shortly.
The Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement introduces a new tripartite approach requiring aged care providers to enter into and maintain a Memorandum of Understanding with a relevant industry union or unions. So those are the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the Health Services Union or the United Workers Union or perhaps a combination of those three. We’ll hear more from the unions later in the webinar.
The Labour Agreement will be available to aged care providers who have made a recent and genuine attempt to recruit from the domestic workforce pool, because of course the migration program is not a pathway for undercutting local workers and conditions, and where standard work visa programs cannot be used to address labour shortages.
Before we get into the detail I’d like to acknowledge in passing that this product is the result of the hard work and consultation across a number of agencies in addition to Home Affairs including Stephanie and her team at the Department of Health and Aged Care, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and of course the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Turning now to the process essentially to get access to the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement and to get workers into your business there are three steps for an employer to be cognisant of. Step one an employer must negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with a relevant union or unions. I’ll leave further detail on this step to our guests from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Health Services Union and the United Workers Union in just a moment.
Once an MoU has been signed unions will send notification to Home Affairs through a centralised communication channel enabling step two, the formal request from you the employer to us at Home Affairs to access the Industry Labour Agreement.
Once the MoU has been established Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement requests can be submitted to the Department via Immi Account, our online portal for managing visa applications and nominations, and must be accompanied by the signed MoU with the unions. Home Affairs will then assess the genuineness of the MoU and on the basis of that assessment will either refuse or approve access to the Labour Agreement.
To date we’ve seen a number of applications and have a handful up and running. We’ll hear later on from David from Curtin Heritage, one of the early businesses to access the product, on how things went from the business side. Industry Labour Agreement requests need to detail the occupations and number of visas the employer wishes to be able to nominate. So that’s something you need to give thought to in advance of coming to us. Once approved an employer can start nominating candidates for visa consideration.
That takes us to step three which is the visa process. The Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement enables access to two visas, the Temporary Skill Shortage subclass 482 and the Employer Nomination Scheme subclass 186 the latter of which is a permanent visa and critical recruitment and retention tool in this framework.
These visas follow similar processes involving two steps, a nomination stage which belongs to you the business and an application stage which belongs to your candidate. Once you start lodging nominations and applications Home Affairs will be giving these priority processing and usual visa processing will occur ensuring that skill, work experience, English language, health and character requirements are satisfied. Home Affairs will approve nominations and visa applications lodged under the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement that meet the relevant criteria. Once approved overseas workers can commence work with their employer. We know many candidates will already be in your business and insofar as they hold work rights they can continue working throughout the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement process subject to their visa conditions.
Following approval Home Affairs will monitor employers’ compliance with the Labour Agreement and sponsorship obligations. The unions will be responsible for monitoring an employer’s compliance with the relevant Memorandum of Understanding. Should an MoU be in dispute or terminated by either party the unions will be responsible for notifying the Department and the Minister can then consider whether there are grounds to suspend or terminate the employer’s access to the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement.
Turning now to the visa settings and some of the more technical aspects of the Industry Labour Agreement starting with occupations. As mentioned at the outset the Industry Labour Agreement enables access to three occupations namely the nursing support worker, personal care assistant and aged or disabled carer roles. No other occupations are eligible under the agreement so if you need for example registered nurses those will have to be accessed through the standard skill visa pathways or through a separate company specific Labour Agreement. Your candidates will need to have an English level of at least IELTS 5 with minimum component skills of 5 for speaking and listening and 4.5 for reading and writing. There is a slight discount on those requirements if you are a culturally and linguistically diverse aged care provider whose employees will provide care to elderly Australians whose first language is not English. Noting your candidates do need to be fluent in the relevant community language.
Salary. In terms of salary overseas workers must be paid an annual salary of at least 51,222 AUD or the Australian market salary rate whichever is the higher of the two. This is a significant concession on the standard pathway which would be $70,000 as of the 1st of July 2023. It’s important to note at this point that the $51,222 is a baseline figure and if the Australian market salary rate is higher then it is the higher rate that must be paid. And we have to be aware in this context of the ongoing impact of the Fair Work decision on pay to this sector.
The salary can include guaranteed overtime where consistent with standard industry practice whether it’s equivalent Australians performing equivalent work with the same guarantees and guaranteed hours are consistent with the National Employment Standards.
Turning now to permanent residence pathways which of course is the great retention and recruitment carrot under this framework. The Labour Agreement creates a pathway to permanent residence after two years of full time work in Australia in a nominated occupation or a closely related occupation. It’s a really significant concession on the way our standard visa pathways work. It’s a very fast pathway to permanent residence for your workers.
The work can be undertaken on any visa which again stands in contrast to most of our other products which would require them to work on a sponsored visa in your business. Under this framework there is no requirement for the two years to be with your business on a visa that you’ve sponsored. I’ll note in passing that there’s no concession on age so the applicant must be under the age of 45 at the time of the visa application for the permanent visa.
Turning now to costs. The main cost involved with nomination is the Skilling Australians Fund levy. Figures that you can see on your screen are determined by whether you’re a large or small business. We define that with a $10 million of turnover cut off. So if you’re $10 million or above it’s the larger of the figures that you can see. If you’re below $10 million it’s the smaller. For the temporary visa the SAF levy is $1,200 or $1,800 a year and for the permanent it’s a one off flat fee of $3,000 or $5,000 again determined by whether you’re a small or large business. There are also minor costs throughout the process including the nomination costs which you can see on your screen.
Skills and qualifications. I won’t talk too much to these because we do have colleagues from both ANMAC and ACWA online and they’ll expand on these in just a moment. It is worth noting quickly that candidates must hold at least a relevant Cert III or higher level qualification or have 12 months full time relevant work experience or part time equivalent. If the qualification was earned overseas or if the candidate is claiming work experience in lieu of the formal qualification they must obtain a positive skills assessment from the relevant skills assessing body.
The final concession worth calling out here is in relation to labour market testing. Most of our skill visa products involve quite strenuous and technical testing in this regard and is quite often a pain point for employers. We hear anecdotally from industry that they find it quite difficult and at our end in processing we do notice that this is an occasional tripping up point leading to nomination refusals and a loss of that SAF levy. A key benefit under the Industry Labour Agreement is removal of the need for the technical labour market testing. Labour market requirements will be agreed through the Memorandum of Understanding process and the Department will essentially take that at face value not imposing any additional labour market testing requirements.
I’ll pass now to our colleagues at the unions. We’ll start with Kristen Wischer, Senior Federal Industrial Officer from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘The Union experience of Aged Care Industry Labour Agreements and the MoU’, ‘ANMF’, ‘Kristen Wischer, Senior Federal Industrial Officer’, ‘Leigh Hubbard, Senior Industrial Officer, Victoria’, ‘HSU’, ‘Edmund Fry’, ‘UWU’, ‘Jess Sanders, National Campaign Co-ordinator, Aged Care’]
So I’m Kristen Wischer and I’m presenting on behalf of the Unions with my colleagues Leigh Hubbard from the ANMF in Victoria, Edmund Fry from the HSU and Jess Sanders. So thank you Chris for the opportunity to present today.
I just wanted to start by saying that the health sector unions have been engaged in trying to ensure the right balance is achieved between protecting workers’ rights and allowing aged care providers to achieve much needed staffing levels obviously with the view to providing safe and quality care to recipients of home care, aged care services and residential services and also protection of migrant workers but really importantly also ensuring that local employees are given every opportunity to maximise hours of work and secure work.
So the unions worked with Government to develop the idea of the MoU and the idea is really that the MoU is a foundation for providers to obtain an Industry Labour Agreement in order to address those problems. And as we now all understand the MoU is the basis upon which a Labour Agreement application can proceed and in the absence of that the benefits of a swift process for having that granted are by no means guaranteed whereas an MoU is a really I suppose strong foundation for proceeding.
So what I wanted to do today with my colleagues is just proceed through the key features of the MoU and why they are important. So if we could go to the next slide.
It is just running through it. So you’ve got parties to the MoU. And forgive me for people who’ve kind of familiarised themselves with the MoU but what I wanted to do is just point out what’s in there and why it’s important. Obviously the employer as a distinct entity is the first part. One thing that we’re interested in is whether you might have a provider that offers services over a number of states and territories or throughout the country but could you also have a geographically distinct group. So you might have a Victorian agreement or a Queensland agreement which again might facilitate I think fast tracking and access to staff and so on.
The next point is that there are three unions who have coverage in different situations across states and territories. It’s really important that contact is made with each of the relevant unions. And if we go next slide.
We’ve prepared a table which shows the coverage for each of those in home care and residential care, for each state and territory and which are the relevant unions with coverage in those areas. So as I say really important to contact each of those unions because we’ll have members in different places and we want the opportunity to have as much possible contact with our members when we’re entering into an MoU and to make sure that everyone understands that. And of course there’s the cooperative elements which I’ll come to very shortly. If we could go to the principles.
So we really did want to approach this from a very principled position and those are set out in the MoU. I won’t go into all of the detail there but it’s about really the balance of acknowledging that there’s an unprecedented workforce shortage and that is the reason why the Industry Labour Agreement is important because we need those migrant workers to come and support our workforce and hopefully then also have the benefit of the pathway to permanency. But the sort of balance around that is then ensuring that existing local workers have already been through a process of having been offered additional hours, have predictable rosters, decent wages and conditions, an acknowledgment that the use of a Labour Agreement is a temporary solution and certainly by no means the only solution. And it was great Stephanie to hear that there are many other things going on in the aged care space about how to build a secure and well remunerated workforce with good conditions.
That’s also mentioned here that wages and conditions for workers under the Labour Agreement must meet industry standards and the idea of a social licence, that you can’t solve your problems simply by bringing in migrant workers. There must be an opportunity for both existing workers and those migrant workers under the visa program to have recruitment training and to grow that existing workforce. Also really important in the MoU and you can see that embedded in it is the idea of transparency with local staff, opportunity to communicate, explanation about what’s happening and why, to really minimise any potential disharmony. If we go to the next slide.
We’ve got the relationship is also I think really well embedded in the MoU, that parties are required to nominate a representative, employers are required to tell unions the number of staff recruited and placed under the agreement. And throughout the document you’ll see that there’s agreement to cooperate, to work collaboratively, to share information, and all of that is about not just this sort of initial phase of entering an MoU and getting the Labour Agreement but that that continues over the life of the agreement because it is an ongoing relationship and again in the checks and balances that there’s continued monitoring of how that process is going. If we could go to the next slide.
Now there’s a template agreement but we are really promoting the idea at the ANMF and I think adopted generally is the idea that we look for an industrial framework that sits behind this as a platform for proceeding with an MoU and then to a Labour Agreement that having a current Enterprise Agreement that offers good conditions and wages is a really important foundational piece because it means first of all that there are conditions that are enforceable, that they are transparent, that when we speak to staff and new workers say ‘Well here are your conditions. This is what needs to be met’. So there’s a lot of security around that and again it falls back to that idea of use of the Labour Agreement is not the only solution. The sort of foundational idea of secure work, wages and conditions is also really important and emphasise that it is the same rate of pay and conditions for all workers engaged at that one workplace.
Then the next slide I’m talking about the really important point that Chris made about labour market testing, that that now happens between the unions and the applicant provider. So we need to be able to establish that all reasonable steps have been taken to fill existing vacancies. So that might include speaking to part time workers to see if they want additional hours, looking at your casual employees to see if they want to be converted to ongoing employment, having predictable rosters with set hours which allows people to access work on a regular basis, accommodation of flexible work arrangements, as minimal as possible use of agency staff, and opportunities for existing staff to have training and development that might allow them to step into further roles.
Look I will just keep going if I can and then I’ll throw to my colleagues about some of these points. Also embedded in the MoU is that there is throughout entering and in the life of the agreement genuine consultation in induction. So that includes the opportunity for us to speak to existing staff to make sure that that labour market testing has really happened and that people are comfortable, they’re informed about the process. We’ve got employers to consult directly with employees and the unions, unions to have access to staff through guaranteed paid meeting times. When the visa workers come in that there’s also an opportunity to speak directly to them to give them induction, to ensure that they understand who their union is, what their workplace rights are. Access to trade union training is embedded in the MoU. And all of these things are really around building some equity and harmony and cohesive workplaces.
The next slide we’re dealing with just really the importance of training because that again helps to develop existing workforce, provides opportunity for people on the visa programs to grow, develop, that’s paid time, that it’s access to really quality training. And of course all of those things are designed to ultimately ensure that the care delivered is safe and quality care and builds workforce across both domestic and visa workers and ultimately enhances our existing workforce and ongoing workforce. So I think that’s a really important piece.
The final parts of the MoU again talk about cooperation between migration agents, unions, providers, the Commonwealth. There’s provision for dispute resolution. There’s provision about what occurs if there’s non-compliance and also about what to do if we need to terminate an agreement.
The final slide is just talking about the benefits of the Labour Agreement and I am going to throw to my colleagues there to speak about what they’ve experienced. Perhaps Lee would you like to start off on that?
We can’t hear you Lee.
Lee. Take it from the top please mate. You were muted.
Yeah. Sorry. I had to unmute myself. I think as an attendee I was muted. I’m getting some feedback.
You might have the volume up at your end Lee.
I’ll just turn it down a bit. So effectively we’ve used the MoU on a couple of occasions here in Victoria and we’re certainly keen to speak to employers. We understand particularly in regional areas there are shortages. As Kristen’s gone through, the kind of key components of where we’re at certainly in Victoria we are requiring employers to come to us and say why they’ve got a shortage and what evidence their efforts to recruit labour and to as Kristen said provide extra opportunities for ordinary time work for the current employees. So we need some evidence of that. It’s not just a kind of tick and flick arrangement but on the other hand we’re not spending inordinate amounts of time doing it either. So from a practical perspective it’s good if employers can come to us with exactly what they would have probably provided to the Department in any other application including how they’ve advertised and sought carers in the market and what responses they’ve got.
Certainly we are keen to make sure in Victoria we’ve got a joint MoU with the HSU. We’re very keen to do this collectively. So it will be a single MoU in Victoria with the Health Workers Union if it’s a Victorian specific agreement. The issue that arises is given there are different unions operating in different states it may be easier to kind of have regional or geographically defined Labour Agreements but that’s really a matter of further clarification I think from the Department. So we’ve certainly got a couple up and we look like getting some more up over the next couple of weeks and as I say we’re very open to talking to people about it. But as I say we have some strong requirements around your existing framework. Because if you don’t have decent pay and conditions now then we can’t be guaranteed that’s not the reason that you can’t attract and recruit people already. So we need certainly to talk about that and the fact that we’ve got the aged care work value funding that you’ve certainly passed that on and incorporated it into your current rates.
But I’ll leave it at that. But certainly it was nothing from our perspective. We understand it’s a real problem for the industry. It’s certainly in stress and burnout for current local workers, carers. It’s a real issue. People are leaving the industry because of the workload. We don’t want that to happen so we’re very keen to support and assist providers as they come to us. So I’ll just leave it at that.
Thanks Lee. Some valuable insights there. I’m conscious of time. We might just pass to the other two unions and give them an opportunity to speak. Jessica would you like to go first?
Yes. Thanks for that. Look I won’t say a huge amount. I’m Jessica from United Workers Union. I would just like to highlight though the huge interest that we have had from workers right across the country on how to access this new pathway to permanency. I think when we were initially talking about Labour Agreements we were very much focused on this being a tool for providers to be able to access workers from overseas but there has been a huge amount of interest in the Labour Agreements as a retention tool. And so that’s keeping your existing workforce and so people who may be working for you under different temporary visas who are very, very interested in a Labour Agreement as the pathway to permanency provides.
We have been running weekly webinars with aged care workers across the country. The number one question that we are getting right now is which providers are accessing the Labour Agreements and how can workers apply to work for those providers. It is something that people are desperate to know and I know that there will be a lot of providers out there who are very keen to keep loyal staff. I know that we’ve got Curtin Heritage who’s going to be talking about the Labour Agreement that they have signed with United Workers Union but that is one example of where a Labour Agreement is being used as a retention measure. And so just wanted to put out there that we’re very interested in working with any provider who is interested in a Labour Agreement in the states that United Workers Union covers. Thanks.
Thanks Jessica. And now we have Edmund from the Health Services Union. Over to you Edmund.
Thank you. I’ll keep it quick as well. Just I’m conscious of the time. Just to reiterate that we’re very interested in engaging in these agreements. We’ve had a large number of enquiries. We are trying to centralise them through our national office to coordinate with the relevant branch. We’ll be participating in it as the Nurses Federation have mentioned we are combining on and having a centralised MoU that will go there. There was a question in the comments about if a company isn’t registered with any union does the company call the unions to register? Yes. Earlier in the presentation there was a table with the relevant unions for particular states and territories. Get in contact with one of those unions. If you’re in New South Wales get in contact with the HSU or the Nurses and we’ll be able to assist you in doing that. But as the others have said there’s been a large number of enquiries and we’re trying to work through them as quickly as possible but we see this as a really good tool moving forward.
Thanks Edmund. So we’ll turn now to our colleagues from the skills assessment side of this. I’ve got a bad feeling that we might have lost one along the way. Kath are you still with us?
I am still here. Can you hear me?
What an absolute marvellous relief. I can hear you and I will pass it over to you. Thanks Kath.
Thanks Chris. You can actually probably move on to the next slide given that the slide – yep. Fabulous. I’ll just dive straight into this in the interests of time. So ANMAC will be assessing two of the three ANZSCO codes under this Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement. Nursing support worker and personal care assistant. So we are working closely with ACWA who’ll speak after me because of the similarities in the roles across the three codes. Essentially the premise being if you are an aged care provider it’s staff working within the residential aged care facilities. They will likely meet the requirements for a skills assessment with ANMAC and it’s the ones that are working and providing general household assistance, emotional support and companionship in the home that will be directed to ACWA, the Australian Community Workers Association.
We like others have received lots and lots and lots of enquiries from potential applicants wanting to know what the requirements are. We did go live with our application process on Tuesday evening and we have had about 60 applications to date. So it’s an interesting time for all of us. Chris next slide please.
I’ve just put here a quick rundown on what it is we’ll be looking for. So it’s obviously going to be a qualification or work experience. We’re looking for the Certificate III minimum in a relevant field obtained overseas. I did see a question in the chat asking about that. If the qualification is from an Australian registered training organisation but it was completed overseas I believe the requirement is, and I confirmed this last week with Home Affairs, that they will require a skills assessment. We are accepting nursing qualifications from overseas. For those of you unaware of what the process is for nurses who have trained overseas, in order to obtain nursing registration in Australia they need to either top up their qualification or complete the OSCE, the outcomes‑based exam, and that takes time and costs money. So we are seeing a lot of interest from nurses from overseas who see this as perhaps a step to come to Australia, work in the aged care space and top up their quals to eventually become a registered nurse.
We will be using the country education profiles which is a portal managed by the Australian Government, Department of Education. It’s a qualifications recognition tool. So we’ll be using that to look at the equivalence of qualifications that are being submitted as part of applications. In lieu of those qualifications we are accepting work experience. It needs to be 12 months full time or equivalent. So that’s about 2,000 hours. I think it’s 1,960 hours based off a 38 hour working week. And we will be considering work where direct care is provided. So we’ve said there not disability support or child care. We can talk a little bit more about disability support or ACWA might even touch on that. So the aged or disabled carer code which is the code that’s been allocated to ACWA more closely aligns with the disability support.
We will be attempting to verify all claims of work. Fraud is a big issue and we take our job as an assessing authority very seriously when it comes to fraud. Applicants will be found unsuitable for the purposes of skill migration from the skills assessing authority’s viewpoint. So I encourage you in all conversations you have with all potential employees to remind them of the need to be full of integrity when they’re submitting their applications to ANMAC because we will catch them out. Next slide please Chris.
This is just a quick snapshot of how we see our role. Essentially the first question and this is the question that we’re fielding from enquiries is does the employee or the potential migrant meet the minimum qualification or work experience requirement? If they do then they’re eligible to apply for a skills assessment. It’s $545. It’s an online process where they upload supporting documentation to us and the staff here at ANMAC we’re based in Canberra, we’ll be doing an online desktop assessment.
Third step. We issue a letter about six to eight weeks from the date that they apply and that has a two year validity period. So that gives them time to fourth step, confirm employment, get sponsorship and progress their visa application. Thanks Chris.
And then this is just basic contact details. I think if these slides can be shared that would be amazing but otherwise just jump onto our website which is in the process of being redone as you can see there and also social media. So we’re planning on doing a few videos and popping them up on Facebook and on YouTube in the coming weeks just to assist potential applicants with essentially all the questions they’ve been asking via our email and our call centre. I think that’s it for me. I’ll hand over to ACWA.
Jesu Jacob :
Thank you Kath. My name is Jesu Jacob. I’m the CEO of Australian Community Workers Association. Can you hear me okay?
We can hear you fine Jesu. Thank you.
Cool. Thank you. So I’m very conscious of the time and Kath has explained the skills assessment process that ANMAC will be following and ACWA’s skills assessment process is pretty much the same process. I’ll start with the occupation definition. An aged or disabled carer is a person who is qualified and/or experienced in delivering person-centred services to people who may request support due to ageing or disability. So we used disabled carer terminology to be consistent with the ANZSCO code. We believe the term disabled is outdated and inconsistent with contemporary and respectful language for referring to people with a disability. We have provided that feedback to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and I believe they are currently in the process of reviewing occupations and coding aged or disabled carer.
The primary focus of this occupation is to provide emotional support, care and companionship to individuals to improve their quality of life. Other tasks may include general household duties, basic assistance, companionship, preparing food, assisting in personal hygiene, etcetera.
Next slide please.
These are the minimum requirements, the relevant qualifications that is comparable to AQF level 3 certificate, and that qualification can be in aged care, disability support, individual support, nursing or similar. If you don’t have a relevant qualification at least 12 months of relevant full time industry experience can replace that qualification. We are not assessing English language skills as the Department of Home Affairs will be doing that assessment and we do not want to duplicate what the Department of Home Affairs is assessing.
Next slide please.
What’s a relevant qualification? They’re the ones in aged care, ageing support, geriatric care, disability care or support, individual support, home and community care and nursing. So these are the names of qualifications or the terminologies we have based on our initial research but we will be fine tuning these guidelines in the coming weeks based on initial feedback we receive from our stakeholders including applicants, employers and other bodies. So a relevant qualification will typically cover the items listed, the subjects listed there, and we are yet to see what these qualifications are going to look like especially when they come from different countries.
These slides speak for themselves so I’m not going to read out these qualification contents. Next slide please.
What’s relevant work experience? It involves the provision of direct service to clients. It’s paid full time work and it’s performed for a minimum of 12 months. We also require currency. For example if the qualification is completed eight or ten years ago we need to see recent experience to make sure the applicant is current in the industry. There is a slight change. The last bullet point, it should be that it meets the currency requirement of three months within the last 18 months. Next slide please.
So talking about industry currency, if the qualification is older than four years that means if the qualification issue date is not within the past four years we would need to see at least three months’ experience within the last 18 months. Just to talk a little bit about how we differentiate aged or disabled carer occupation from the other two occupations included in the Aged Care Labour Agreement the aged or disabled carer positions will be in low care, home-based or a community living arrangement. So if the position is within a high care aged care facility it’s more suitable for ANMAC to complete the assessment as a personal care assistant or nursing support worker. There’s a lot of overlapping as you can see. Next slide please.
This is a document checklist. We need three ID documents including passport. Obviously if the assessment is going to be qualification based we would like to see qualification completion certificate, transcript of results and evidence of their vocational placement. If it’s based on work experience we would like to see position descriptions and letter issued by employer. It’s also possible for us to ask for additional evidence such as payslips and things like that where we need further information to verify those employment claims. Next slide please.
So thank you. We will start accepting applications very shortly. Our IT team is currently in the final stages of doing the application form. We have published the guidelines on the website so if you’ve got questions please feel free to email the assessment team via the email address provided on the slide, email@example.com. Thank you all again.
Thanks to both skills assessing bodies and Kath and Jesu for presenting as part of today’s webinar. Really helpful context for everybody. There’s a number of questions flying in via the Q&A about recording and provision of slides and we will definitely be pushing the slides out. And if the recording has worked out okay given those early tech issues we will provide that as well. Alternatively we’ll re-record the bits that might have been a bit clunky.
David if you’re still with us noting the time – and if you have other things to get to just let us know but hopefully we can now rip through a presentation from David Cox at Curtin Heritage who as I said earlier was one of the early adopters of the Industry Labour Agreement and he’ll speak a little bit about the lived experience of Curtin. David are you able to present?
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Curtin Heritage Living’, ‘David Cox’, ‘Managing Director’]
Yeah. Hi Chris. How are you going? You can hear me okay?
I can hear you okay and my stress levels have somewhat reduced. Thank you for joining us.
You’ve done well to cope with the tech issues. I’m coming from Whadjuk Noongar country in Western Australia. We’ll go to the next slide. That is the view from one of our care facilities. We live in an amazing place which is bordered by the sea and the river and that is great but it has some really inherent issues in that we consider ourselves to be a regional area even though we’re in metro Perth. Most of our staff come from a long, long way away to actually get to us and even though we’re an employer of choice we actually still struggle to get staff. We have residential care, home care and independent living. Thanks Chris. Next slide.
Most of our staff are actually from overseas. About 30% of our staff are actually on a temporary visa. Most of them are on student visas typically in degrees that they might not necessarily go to in a future life. Almost 70% of our staff are from a non-English speaking background. We actually have very low turnover but the turnover we do have is predominantly overseas workers or people on temporary visas changing employer either to pursue a temporary visa in the country or to actually pursue a different career that might actually give them an alternative pathway. The other group of people that we have that contribute to our turnover are students that are graduating into nursing. Thank you Chris.
So the whole reason why we really did the visa was actually around workforce retention as kind of alluded to before. We have an amazing group of really loyal staff that have been working for us for a number of years and they have huge stresses that might get difficult for them to work. The first person that actually got a visa was a lady called Sangay. Sangay has been working for us for five years on a temporary visa. She hails from Bhutan. During the five years she’s actually put three kids through school. One of them is in their final year of high school and she’s hopefully going to go into medicine. And Sangay’s other two children are lucky enough and smart enough to also have graduated and are currently studying medicine. One of them she can afford to put through private fees in university in WA and the other one she can’t afford so they have gone to Sri Lanka to do their education. Sangay has to pay for private insurance for all of her kids and also private education and that’s been really, really hard on her and her family.
Now what we want to do is convert our part time workers into full time workers. We want to give them stability so that they’ll stay with us for a long time and we’ll get consistency of care. And we also want to make a real difference to our workers’ lives. And certainly Sangay having the visa, she was given her permanent residency or 186 visa two weeks ago and that has changed her life. And we also see workforce issues aren’t going to get better in the short term so we do see it as a recruitment tool albeit that’s not our primary aim of the visa. Thank you Chris. Next slide.
So our process was exactly as described by everybody else. We reached out to the unions. We were re-contacted by the United Workers Union very quickly. I have to say that we really don’t have a relationship or didn’t have a relationship with any union before we started. We are not a unionised environment at all. So we were a little bit reluctant I have to be honest to say in reaching out but the response from the United Workers was pretty fantastic. It was actually really quick and the process was actually pretty smooth going through that MoU process. Now we had already gathered our evidence. So that is data evidencing our need. We actually had data around advertising to show that we’d actually advertised and also that we’ve got strategies to actually employ Australians and maximise our work hours. We’d actually done that because we’d actually started applying for our own Labour Agreement about well over a year – it’s probably almost two years ago. So we were going down the same pathway as this Labour Agreement so it was a bit of a godsend to actually be able to bypass that process and jump onto this.
So the agreement is pretty much the same as all the other agreements that we’ve seen, the templates that are going around. And to be honest we don’t see those conditions as being onerous because it is around transparency and it is around protecting our Australian workers’ rights and conditions. And clearly as an industry we want to get the most out of our Australian workers and we all try and give them as many hours as they can. In fact many actually have more than what they should have. And obviously the conditions are favourable in terms of being award or above award. So we could evidence that quite easily by doing the things that almost every provider in Australia already does. Thank you Chris.
So we actually were granted approval for 570 visas over five years. That’s an awful lot and that is in part preparing for significant expansion. We’ve just acquired a home care organisation and we are expanding. But it’s also preparing ourselves for the future in terms of whatever happens in our industry. We don’t know what’s going to happen. So the Department of Home Affairs were really good in encouraging us to actually go for a number that has probably got a fair bit of buffer in it which is certainly what we’ve done. So we’ve actually gone to our employees and said if you’re interested can you please express an interest. So we’ve actually held meetings with all of our staff and offered this. And we’ve been really, really clear that the offer is actually based on priority. And this is not a cheap option to go down so if you’re going to create a loyal workforce you have to be careful who you’re going to select because that nomination fee is not insubstantial.
And so we actually based and we’re very clear about basing our priority on staff that have been loyal and committed to us, so people that were reliable and had worked for us the longest, the staff that were closest to the cutoff point. So we’ve got several staff that are reaching that age of 45 and we wanted to consider them first. And we just wanted to make sure that we’re protecting our own staff before we consider other people outside of our organisation.
Now in the first week we had 300 applicants come unsolicited through our website asking for jobs. I think by about week three we had 1,500. So there’s certainly a large number of people out there very, very keen to jump onto the visa. They’re not necessarily the people for us I have to be honest because we are actually looking for people that primarily want to look after our residents and provide a good service and so that really is our eligibility when we’re screening people for employment. We then asked the employees to show evidence that they meet the eligibility criteria which is pretty easy to do because most people sitting on a temporary visa already have the English language test, they already have evidence around the certificate and they already have the health check if they’re going for the permanent pathway. We pay for the sponsor application. We ask the employee to cover all of their own costs.
The employees so far haven’t used migration agents to actually go down this path because the path has been really easy. The Immi website we think is very easy to use. We also didn’t use migration agents or lawyers because we found the process quite easy and quite smooth so we went it alone. We’re not a big organisation with a HR team. It was the people that are actually looking after the staff that actually went through this process. And the process for us was quite an easy one. Thank you Chris.
So that’s really where we’re up to. We’ve actually found the process quite smooth. The Department of Home Affairs say that they process the applications quickly and that’s absolutely correct. So when we’ve actually applied for the nomination that’s generally taken about four or five business days and then our first employees going through for their visa application has taken less than two weeks. So I’m sure that’s not guaranteed but it definitely shows that there is an effort by Government to prioritise this and we’ve been very grateful for it and very reluctantly thank Government for this process. It’s just been fantastic. So thank you.
Thanks David. Really valuable to hear from the employer side of this equation and of course nice to hear that all of the things we’ve said have been borne out in the lived reality. And if you’re saying nice things about us we’ll hook you up with the Tax Department next and you can say something nice about them perhaps.
Now in light of the time we’ll probably push through any further sort of live questions. We’ll leave the chat box open and people can put their questions in for the next ten minutes or so and we’ll take those away and come back to the group with some FAQs. If you do have other questions that pop up over the next couple of weeks as you consider this pathway feel free to reach out to myself and my team via the email that you can see on the screen. And I’ll pass back to Steph from the Department of Health now just to take us through to a close.
Thank you everyone and thank you for your time today. And thanks to all the presenters. I hope that this information was useful for everyone. If you are interested in knowing more about some of the programs that the Department of Health and Aged Care are running on aged care workforce please scan the QR code or visit the website below or send us an email. We’ll put a written Q&A doc up onto our Department’s website with the recording.
So I think that’s all from us today. So thanks again for joining us and thanks again to all the presenters.
About the webinar
The Australian Government has introduced the Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement (ILA) to streamline the recruitment of qualified direct care workers from overseas to work in aged care.
The Department of Home Affairs hosted a joint webinar with the Department of Health and Aged Care for providers about the Aged Care ILA.
The webinar covers:
how to use the Aged Care ILA to fill vacancies in direct care occupations when there are not enough Australian workers available
Memorandum of Understanding with aged care employee unions
skills assessment process for overseas workers.
- Department of Health and Aged Care
- Department of Home Affairs
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
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