Supporting SA and NT home care providers to recruit and train personal care workers

This webinar is for home care providers looking to attract, recruit and train personal care workers to the aged care sector. Apprenticeship Careers Australia will be available to share information about their roles in the program, their success and lessons learnt.

Health sector
Webinar date:
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Recording and transcript


[Opening visual of slide with text saying 'Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care (with logo)', 'The Home Care Workforce Support Program Webinar', 'Information for Providers', '', with speaker connecting via videoconference and visible on the right-hand side of the screen]

[The visuals during this webinar are of three speakers connecting via videoconference and visible on screen, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being shared on screen]

Andrew Dunbar:

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

I'd like to being by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we all meet today. For me that's beautiful Ngunnawal country in the national capital. I'd also like to pay my respects to Elders past, present, as well as acknowledge any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are here with us today.

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

The purpose of today's webinar is to provide information to you as home care providers on the Home Care Workforce Support Program and how it can help you to attract and retain personal care workers.

The agenda for today. First off we'll just provide an introduction of the program, what it aims to do, how it can benefit your organisation. You'll then hear from our partner for South Australia and the Northern Territory, Apprenticeship Careers Australia, on what they are doing to attract, train and retain new personal care workers to the home care sector. ACA will be represented today by Daniel Forbes and Greg Bowden. They'll have case studies to share so you can hear from providers and participants about their experiences in the program.

And there'll also be a Q and A session at the end where we encourage you to ask any questions you may have on the program. Even if we don't get time to get to everyone today we will follow up as a part of a conclusion to this. So please make sure to use the Slido feature which should be down in the bottom right-hand side of your screen.

If you do not see the Slido features which has polls and questions and answers please follow the link. I believe this is particularly important for anyone who's using an Apple product. So the link is in the chat by the way. And yeah just pop any questions you've got as we go. We'll get to them. And if we don't get to them today, like I said we 100% will follow up post this webinar.

I'd also ask that you stay on the line for a maximum of a minute at the conclusion of the webinar just to complete a short survey. It basically ensures that we can continue to refine the content and the pitch of these webinars and make sure that we're maximising your time in the future.

So we'll just move to slide number 3 thanks about the Home Care Workforce Support Program which aims to grow the home care workforce by supporting you as providers to attract, train and retain new and existing workers into the aged care sector. The program is funding six organisations and consortia to support providers and grow the workforce by 13,000 personal care workers nationally.

The organisations we have are Apprenticeship Careers Australia, or ACA as I sometimes might refer to them, for South Australia and the Northern Territory, the Council on the Ageing with their consortium partners for Queensland, Settlement Services International for the ACT and New South Wales, Aged and Community Care Providers Association with their consortium partners in Victoria and Tasmania, North Metro TAFE and their consortium partners for Western Australia, and the National Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation for rural and remote parts of South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.

These organisations will support home care providers with activities to help attract new personal care workers, 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 career opportunities in the sector, screening potential workers for the right skills and attributes and getting these candidates work ready through the provision of pre-employment training. They'll also support new personal care workers to complete high-quality accredited training including facilitating access to subsidies to support that training, supporting the work placement opportunities and providing outreach services to those new starters.

We'll just move to the next slide please.

So I'd just like to bring your attention to the Equip Aged Care Learning Modules which is another program that our department is running. And this aims to improve the training, skills and qualifications for personal care workers, people who are interested in the care sector, anyone involved with the care sector, even people who are looking after a loved one.

They're currently being developed by the University of Tasmania, led by the Dementia Research and Education Centre, who are developing a series of short online learning modules to help develop the skills and capability of aged care workers. Key modules to date - sorry modules to date include a range of topics such as 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, caregivers supporting loved ones and anyone with an interest in improving care for older Australians. The program launched in October last year and further content will be rolled out progressively. All modules will be available by May 2023 as well. And you can access that at the website and we'll also send out this sort of information as a follow-up. So we'll make sure that everyone keeps abreast of these things.

The next thing I'd like to remind you about is the Australian Government's A Life Changing Life campaign which is still underway and aims to generate interest in the care and support sector, including 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 on there that may be useful for you as employers, as well as potential employees in the sector. You can access that via And again we will make sure that we send these links out as a follow-up and a conclusion to this, as well as all the questions.

I'd now like to introduce Daniel who as I mentioned will be the representative for South Australian service provider today. Daniel's married and a father of two and is a Programs Operations Manager with Apprenticeship Careers Australia. He's worked over a number of industries and with experience in corporate affairs, digital transformation and training and employment. Daniel brings a pair of fresh eyes to the challenge we face in supporting the in-home aged care sector. He grew up as the son of a GP which has given him a lifetime of appreciating the challenges of an ageing population and he's passionate about evidence-based policy reform that better serves our sector.

Daniel will also be joined by Greg Bowden who is the Senior Team Leader for the Home Care Workforce Support Program. Having a career spending 20-plus years in management roles and business development led Greg to join the group training organisation system in the hope of steering future workers and employers within the automotive industry. Now he's moved over to the care sector and he's found similar staffing challenges but has been able to steer the direction of the program with the lessons he's learned from recruitment and people management.

I'll now hand over to Daniel and Greg to discuss how their work can help your organisation meet its workforce needs.

Daniel Forbes:

Thanks Andy. I appreciate that. And yeah Greg will join me for the questions at the end of this speech.

So the first thing I'd like to do is Apprenticeship Careers Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and of all communities who also work and live on this land. I am coming to you today from the traditional lands of the Kaurna people.

Andy gave a pretty good summary of what this program's about. Our job really is to help in-home aged care providers to employ personal care workers. This is a free program and I will probably mention that at multiple points. So it's free for providers, it's free for applicants.

It really is a simple proposition. However like many simple undertakings assisting providers to employ more PCWs is a task that requires a lot of time to execute. We can get involved in all or any parts of your new staff's employment journey. Reducing the time taken from application to employment, reducing the cost for applicants, working to keep applicants engaged throughout the application process so they don't take up a different job in an alternative industry, packaging up the evidence of their required checks and necessary vaccinations for your HR teams, putting the applicants through required pre-employment training including manual handling and/or first aid. There really are a large number of ways in which we can assist you to hire more personal care workers.

At this point I'd also like to acknowledge the work that providers are already doing. This program is about helping you do more but I do believe it's important to acknowledge the work that is already happening and the hard work that goes into the care sector to assist aged members of our community to live a better life.

So a little bit about us. Apprenticeship Careers Australia is a leading group training organisation throughout Australia predominantly employing people in the aged and the healthcare sector. There are a number of staff with extensive experience in the health and aged care industries and we're able to utilise their experience and expertise when required to assist the program. We've built a team with staff in Adelaide, Mount Gambier, we've partnered with Crest NT with offices in Darwin and we've recently hired a staff member on the Yorke Peninsula.

As the team continues to develop we've employed staff with a wide variety of experiences to deliver assistance to providers. The breadth of experience includes people who have hands-on experience in aged care, aged care training, recruitment, HR, employment service providers, disability service providers. And like many companies in a post-COVID world we've hired people with transferable skills looking for a change who want to make a difference.

The Home Care Workforce Support Program as Andy indicated has only really come about through a shortage of personal care workers in the in-home aged care industry. This is not a surprise to any of you on here today and it's something that has received a fair bit of attention over the last few years.

The Commonwealth Government is delivering this program to grow the nation's home care workforce by 13,000 people over the next two years. And we, ACA, have the contract for South Australia and Northern Territory.

We need to assist providers to employ an additional 1,264 personal care workers who are retained for at least a three-month period by March 2024. We've partnered with Crest in the Northern Territory to assist with on-the-ground activities. Sally Morris and her team have years of experience in the industry to help businesses with training, mentoring and support and providing tailored solutions for businesses. Crest NT has worked with a number of providers to improve the aged care sector for providers, staff and their clients.

We're almost a year in now from when the grant had started. And so there's a number of activities that we've undertaken, including most obviously building a team. So when we started - and now we've developed a pipeline of labour to provide to industry. We've engaged with in-home aged care providers. We've worked to build trust with providers and to try and enhance your HR teams' output, working to reduce the time taken from application to employment. I will come back to this point at multiple times as this is a real barrier for many prospective staff.

We've developed a mentoring program to assist in the retention of new staff. Only around a third of people undertaking an individual Certificate III qualification complete that qualification, much below the completion rate of other Certificate III qualifications. For people in traineeships across different industries more trainees leave in their first year than any subsequent year of their training. Also the retention of staff in the in-home aged care industry is low compared to other industries with many people again leaving within that first year. Many providers are telling us that they're unable to perform exit interviews as staff generally do not respond to correspondence after they've left.

This is one of the main reasons we've employed a full-time mentor and we've had a number of success stories through that role already. There have been some major issues that he has helped to resolve but there's also been some minor issues that he's been able to assist with that otherwise would have resulted in this person being lost to the employer.

There's one example I'd like to provide where a person applied with us and throughout a period of six - sorry 8 to 10 weeks we worked with them to get them ready for employment. They started and were inducted with a provider and then refused their first week's shifts. They were called by the provider to try and find out why and if they were okay and didn't answer. Our mentor called multiple times through that first week. And the provider's feedback was along the lines of that this person's probably lost to industry and this does happen.

As we've got this opportunity with this program we persisted and chased this person down. And eventually she answered her phone and she was embarrassed to tell us that she couldn't use the app. And even though she'd been inducted and been taught on it she was embarrassed to say she didn't have a good understanding of IT. We then spoke with the provider and got her back in touch with them and got her the assistance she needed and she's still working some seven or eight months later with this provider.

There's a couple of things that this I suppose case study helps to show us. One is the digital literacy and the importance of it with the people that we're working with. But also how some minor things - it's quite difficult to get people into employment in this sector for some quite valid reasons, and some minor issues are creating the case of where we're losing some people. So continuing to work with people to try to overcome these is quite important.

We've also started a marketing campaign in the middle of last year. And this really does have a dual purpose. It's about raising awareness of the roles that are available within this sector, and conversion. Simply put conversion for us is people coming to us so that we can start to prepare them for industry.

So both campaigns are multichannel, predominantly through social media. Particularly for the awareness part of the campaign we've utilised YouTube and other online streaming platforms, Instagram, Facebook. But we've also gone out to radio and podcasts specifically targeting the South Australian and Northern Territory community.

For Facebook we are looking to track these people and see people who engage - sorry for conversion we are looking to track these people and see who engage with us and we are using Facebook and Google to attempt to get them to apply with us.

We've looked to utilise technology to speed up that process. So we have a robot who will - so we've developed a gateway, utilised the gateway that adds people to our system, our CRM automatically on application and then we have a robot that will contact people. So this robot basically helps people to feel the love from us and to keep engaged throughout this process. So the questions that the robot asks are the questions that come from our first phone screen. And should someone complete all of those my staff can come in ready to ask this person to come in for a face-to-face interview before we look to progress them through the system. This has helped us to keep more people engaged for longer as it is a highly competitive market for labour.

We are running at the moment fortnightly pre-employment courses. We have held 20 so far and we're looking to hold as many of these as we can. There is an opportunity for us to take a risk in many ways with people to bring in new and different groups into this area to try and help providers. And this is probably the - well this is the major pathway of people going into a traineeship.

There's a number of things that we've learnt going through this process, some of which are not new to industry and some are related to national and some global factors. Historically prospective staff in the aged care sector have predominantly trained themselves, whether that be as a registered or enrolled nurse or as a personal care worker. While the salary for personal care worker is considered to be low, including the recent changes to the SCHADS Award and the forthcoming Fair Work Commission recommendation, money is not likely to be a selling point for prospective applicants.

With the recent changes to the labour market, including the historically low unemployment figure that we have, low levels of migration, this has meant that staff have much more power in the employment market than before. Recruitment and people and culture experts will all tell us that money is not the overwhelming factor when employing people but it certainly does have an impact.

So we need to recognise that the market has changed and be faster to offer employment and look to skill new workers and upskill existing workers and work to develop a pathway that prospective and existing staff want.

Many providers have been faced with this challenge to find enough staff and are actively looking to recruit from their competitors. However this is a zero net game. An example from a different industry that I can provide is when working with the Motor Trade Association I had the responsibility for the Northern Territory. And there are three major car dealerships with strong service centres. And one of the service centres hired a new service manager who had a good idea of who he believed the best technicians in the area were and he approached them and paid a few dollars extra per hour to bring these staff over.

The other service centres responded in the same way. And when the dust settled a few years later there was no productivity enhancement for industry, no additional vehicles being serviced but staff were being paid a few dollars extra per hour. Now in a market like the automotive servicing industry this can be passed on to the consumer. However this is not the case in the aged care sector. Taking staff from other providers will assist, may assist businesses in the short term but it's not a long-term solution to help.

Another factor that's been raised with us by providers is rostering issues and how they are negatively affecting staff and their satisfaction with their work. A number of our mentees have indicated they're not receiving enough hours but the people who are employing them are still communicating with us that they are desperate for more staff.

This is probably where I want to go back to time in market. And so just to reinforce the complexity within this market and trying to convince HR teams to interview people as quickly as possible and bring that application through to an employment outcome in the fastest way possible.

What can providers do? So I suppose the big thing that we're talking to providers about at the moment is recognising those employment challenges and that the current climate has changed. Candidates are very quick to jump ship if they're not progressed quickly. And so as I've reiterated before, really responding quickly and trying to advance that from a face-to-face interview through to offer within that one week.

There's an example that the national community of interest that we and other groups from the other states sit on talk about. And it's if you applied for a job in a bar, for a café and for one with an in-home care provider you would highly likely receive a trial shift in a bar or café before the weekend, with then the likelihood that you'll be offered a position probably starting in a pub on a busy Friday night or on a weekend in the case of a café.

So how can we compete with these industries? If you are looking for work and you're being offered a role straight away, many people are taking that position quickly. So that response to candidates is vital.

I do want to go back to rostering issues here. Rostering the hours promised gives candidates a good experience. So they often inform providers and providers have that discussion at the start on the likelihood of how many hours. And that's not always possible at that point. But the more information staff can have earlier it does help to avoid staff feeling resented and looking outside where they can get those hours.

There's also a lot of isolation within this industry. And so working within your existing teams to try to work out how you can engage staff that are on the road and may not have that connection with other personal care workers or with that rostering team other than through an app.

The big thing that I do want to talk to you all about is, if you're not working with us let us help you progress your candidates through that application process faster. So there are many things that a HR team has to do that we don't. We are here just to assist providers. So at any part of your journey getting us involved to help you hire more people will assist you and help resolve this overarching program.

And if you are working with us what else can we do to help you employ more people? There's a number of things that can be achieved and that we could all look to achieve. But we certainly don't feel we have all the answers so please come back to us with those ideas that you would like to pursue.

What's next is really a lot of hard work. So it's not easy working with prospective candidates to try and assist them to be ready for employment in the aged care sector. It can be demoralising for my team and for your staff when we believe that there is a good candidate who takes another job before we can have them inducted. But the more people that we are working with the more we will get through to employment.

We will continue our marketing campaigns, evolving as we learn but continuing to focus on the two separate parts of awareness and conversion.

We will look to increase that overall change in perception throughout the community so that when people are talking about these roles that they do start to change what people believe an in-home personal care worker does.

As indicated before we are looking for programs that will drive change, leave industry in a better place. Come to us with your ideas. This program really does have the opportunity to help. And provided we can get Andy to agree it really has the opportunity to go and branch outside into some areas that may or may not have been financially viable or for other reasons have not stacked up previously. So please come to us with those ideas.

And allow us to ingratiate our team into your HR team. We do have a number of people here and letting us help you to speed up that applicant journey is a really important one for us.

I do want to highlight that last point. Look it's encouraging providers to upskill your existing staff and to utilise trainees to bring new people into the industry as I've indicated before rather than relying on people to skill themselves, and to assist them to come through and create a pathway for them.

As Andy indicated we do work with a number of providers and Anglicare is one who came on board relatively early. Not right at the start. We did take a little bit of time to start working with Anglicare. And like with many of the providers we started slowly. And as we built trust between our and their teams we've started to do more and more with them. And again are looking this year to go to the next step and do more so that we can assist them to employ more and more people.

We, as you'd expect, have a website. So if you do want people to know about this program you can direct them through to our website, We have a large button on the home page as you can see on your screen which directs people through to find out more because this is the major program for the company as we try to educate as many people as possible. And so yourselves or people you're talking to please pass that on.

And to contact us there's a QR code here if you're quick enough to snatch it or when the slides are sent around. Otherwise Hayley's our Senior Business Development Manager and so you can contact her on 0482 166 715, or any of the rest of us in the team, for a discussion on what we can do to help you to employ more personal care workers.

Andy I might throw back to you now.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks very much for that Daniel, really appreciated.

As I alluded to earlier if anyone's got any questions please pop them in the Slido and we will get to them all at some point today.

So I have a question here about thin markets. It says:

Q:          In thin markets how can the system support or incentivise the sharing of workforce and development of skills rather than the competitive labour market that providers find themselves in?

Do you have any advice on your experience for the minute Daniel?

Daniel Forbes:

Yes. Andy I do. And I might ask Greg to come around and join me for the Q and A part of the presentation.

So one of the big parts that you're talking about really is introducing new people into the market. So providers are currently - sorry a number of staff are currently working with different providers. Some providers support that, some would prefer that they stayed with them. But those thin markets, it's what's the way to bring people in.

So as we spoke about before how can we provide greater awareness in the community of what these roles are. It's not just wiping and showering, though that is quite important. How do we get people to understand at a barbecue the need for these workers, the satisfaction that they get from delivering this care and just I suppose the greater awareness of those other roles within there?

Greg Bowden:

I think too it's not only a sharing of workers that the industry needs, it's a sharing of knowledge. And that's what's been really good about this program. Working with so many different providers we've been able to see what works firsthand and maybe what can need improving and we can adjust and tweak that to improve the candidates that are coming into the industry, as well as the retention sort of thing. So the knowledge is probably more - as important as the candidates because that's how we're going to grow it longer term as well.

Andrew Dunbar:

I'll also take this moment to shamelessly plug another program from our branch which is the Workforce Advisory Service. And that's a service that's administered by PwC on our behalf. It's completely free, it's completely anonymous. You just can go online. We'll share a link as part of this and we'll send it out as a follow-up. But you can go online and do a survey. They'll do a desktop analysis.

One of the things that is part of that program is finding these thin markets and bringing providers together to do initiatives very similarly to this. Where quite often in these thin markets this lack of workers threatens the viability of not one but multiple services and these are the kind of places where communities can't afford to lose their providers. So I would encourage anyone to do it. It's completely free. You can go and - to get the survey won't take you particularly long as a provider, and PwC will be in touch to let you know what they can offer in this circumstance. So we'll put a link out as part of that when we're tying off this work.

Daniel Forbes:

Andy I'll probably just add one more thing to that too. I was just thinking as you said that that one of the other things that's worked well for us is when providers have looked to do their own pre-employment programs it's quite difficult. Nobody is able to do a pre-employment course every fortnight, every week just for their own business. And so if people are taking time off work to do those it's difficult to give people 'Yeah you can start your pre-employment program in April, May, June in one of those.' And if you have to wait two or three months in the current market as we indicated there's a lot of other opportunities.

So with the pre-employment courses we're providing we are having people who are then being - so instead of taking 15 a quarter, say look to take one or two every fortnight and so you end up with the same at the end but people don't have to have that waiting period between their application and starting work with you.

And so little bits that can be shared throughout industry without people being able to pinch them has allowed more trainees to enter through without that delay. And so that kind of sharing without being a formal sharing arrangement is quite useful too.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks Daniel. This is a question from myself sorry. It hasn't come through the thing.

Q:          But with this pre-employment training are these virtual trainings? How are these offered? And is there I guess any geographical impediment potentially or are you offering them in different locales?

Daniel Forbes:

Yes. There's always geographical impediments with the tyranny of distance in Australia. We do find that many of the regional providers haven't expressed as much interest as metropolitan ones. That's not to say there's none. And so it has been held more often in Adelaide than anywhere else.

These are face-to-face, nine days generally depending on the RTO. The RTO sometimes goes up to 13 days. They are free for participants and free for providers as well and accredited training. So the Introduction to Care Skillset is the one that we've been asking providers to deliver. Which the reason we've asked that is we're - sorry asking RTOs to deliver. And the reason we've been delivering those is that providers have requested that as a good pathway to give people an introduction before starting, as well as manual handling and first aid.

We also have a day which is sort of a - it's an introduction to care day that's not an accredited training of any sort, it's just sort of a how to behave in this environment. So for example we did have a person who was employed through - not through the pre-employment program. And we were mentoring and one of the things that the mentor had to work through them was that they were just walking into people's house because they saw this as their workplace, not as someone's home.

And so throughout that pre-employment program we try to educate people about the little bits within this profession which are a little bit different from other roles. That you do need to knock, you do need to be aware of certain things when going into someone's house. Some people like shoes off, some people have all these other parts. So you need to be respectful of the person whose house that you are entering.

Greg Bowden:

It also gives the candidates a lot more confidence than just staring a role. Induction days are traditionally very short, a day, maybe two days introduction on how to do things. Having a two-week program has been a really fantastic opportunity for the candidates to experience through workplace simulations what they're potentially going to be doing in the next couple of months and that. So they're able to go into the workplace with a lot more confidence than they were before the program. So it is a really good filter for providers to get the workers that know what they want to be doing and what they're going to be doing over the next few months. It also gives the candidates a lot more confidence starting that first day, that first week, that they have an idea what they're getting into.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks Greg. I've got another question which is similar and I might just take it.

Q:          In thin markets do you offer a person full-time employment but shared across more than one provider in a geographical location? We are a large regional provider and have chronic shortages across the whole of SA rural and remote.

And to come back to the Workforce Advisory Service that I was talking about earlier, whoever you are please reach out and do that. Or you can email us at We've got a whole range of regional coordinators in South Australia and things like that and like I said programs that we can tie you into to try and overcome this geographic disparity and tap into these kind of systems.

And I think this is where having our home care workforce support providers is great. They're somewhat an advocate for all these other programs. We're conscious that you're talked at a lot of the time. There is just this huge volume of information. It's not always easy to digest. It's not always easy to know where these pools of money are in these services. So having boots on the ground through Daniel and Greg and everyone else really lets you tap into the resources that we have, as well as the resources that they've got at their disposal to help you meet your workforce needs.

We have ...

Daniel Forbes:

... include me on that email at because as Andy said we can help to provide that through the system too. And obviously we do have a number of advocates out in regional areas, staff working in the towns north of Gawler and around which is obviously a very large geographic area, south there with someone in Mount Gambier, namely in Mount Gambier, and Crest partnering with us and others through the Northern Territory. So yeah we're very keen to push further into those areas too.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks Daniel.

We've got a skills question.

Q:          Is there consideration regarding recognition for workers from overseas - skills recognition sorry I should say who are already in Australia?

Daniel Forbes:

This is a difficult one. And we have spoken to a few different providers about this, mainly around recognition of skills from different countries across any industry is often not easy. One of the easiest pathways for people is recognition of prior learning. So if they have been doing this work, whether that's here and they're not qualified or overseas or qualified overseas and coming over, if it is a country that doesn't have an easy transition, say like United Kingdom, that recognition of prior learning is available.

There are opportunities at the moment with the Federal Government funding a lot of qualifications through TAFE and other not-for-profit providers to do this at a significantly reduced fee. In fact I think at the moment that might still be fee-free through TAFE. But this allows people to demonstrate those skills and to be able to do it here. There is a new qualification that's coming out. And so it's not a bad idea for them to look at those skills because it does broaden to both home care and residential care, the aged part of this new qualification.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks for that Daniel. We have this one. It's a bit of a doozy.

Q:          What works in remote Indigenous communities?

And this is a poignant question for the two regions we're talking about today.

Daniel Forbes:

This is a really good question. And I think it's just a lot of hard work. There's no easy answer. If there was an easy answer people would have been doing it before. So having spoken to some providers in remote areas it can cost $6,000 to have a first aid course run. You really need to ensure that people are going to attend if that's the case.

And some providers of training services have had success with picking people up, packing a lunch, packing a breakfast, dropping people back after. Ensuring that once they do start work that there's some sort of assistance to get them to those shifts at the start and to help them to build up those habits and those behaviours so that then they keep going. It is difficult to know when to continue and when to stop with those activities but it really is working with the individual situation to try to assess the level of need. But with a first aid course costing $6,000 there is often a significant cost associated with what we're talking about too.

As Andy indicated we are working in these sectors, as well as NACCHO, and so there is provision within this program to go outside what would normally be considered an option. And it's something that we've spoken about at that community of practice meeting I referred to before on how can we do more in these areas. There is an opportunity with this program so we'd like to take it.

Andrew Dunbar:

And I'll also just stress that one of our grant recipients who's working in a number of remote Indigenous communities is NACCHO, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. They're a partner. We meet regularly. We're engaged with them. So come to Daniel. We've got contacts, we've got a whole bunch of resources and everyone's working on this trying to address this issue. So we're open to innovative solutions or trying new approaches.

We have:

Q:          Are community-based transition care and short-term restorative care included as home care providers, and if so are government providers of these services eligible for program/funding?

So I'll take that one. And the short answer is that the intent of the program when it first began was to clear the National Prioritisation System as part of the government's response to the Aged Care Royal Commission. And essentially that means that it was intended to clear the waiting list for home-care packages. So watch this space. We're looking at the periphery and how we can ensure that activities contribute to the care sector, whether it's in residential, disability support, these kind of things, community home-support programs, so these kind of things that sit on the periphery of this that may be a softer landing for workers or an easy place. So please stay engaged with the program, keep abreast of it and we'll let you know. And this is up for consideration now so we're expecting a decision soon on what else will be in scope I suppose is probably the right way to frame that.

Q:          How are you matching candidates with employers and/or screening for suitability?

Greg Bowden:

A very, very important question. Retention is what this program is all about. It's not just new workers into the industry. So the right match is one of the most critical things.

We look for a number of things working with a wide range of providers. Distance travelled is a very, very simple thing. Not all providers are looking for the same candidates in the same area at the same time. So when we look at a candidate and try and match them up with a provider we look at things like travel distance, a very, very simple thing like that. If a candidate's within about half an hour of their clientele quite often they'll stay at that provider, it's a reasonable sort of travel distance. We've found anything you know half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour away the applicants may be really enthusiastic to start with but then as the cost of living comes in and fuel prices and travel time comes into it the shine soon wears off. So where they've been inducted and now got a client load the shine's worn off and they don't usually stay at that provider, looking for something closer to home.

Always looking for caring, passionate people. This is what this industry is. It's what it's based at okay. Though caring, passionate people aren't necessarily the best at getting their checks and clearances and jumping through the hoops that's required in this industry. And that's where the program can actually help get those people through that have applied for the right reasons but are not quite sure where to get their police clearance, how to get their NDIS and aged care sector check, things like that.

So further suitability as well. You look for experience, work history. And also their availability is very, very important because from a rostering point of view - I give credit to all the rostering people from all the providers. That is the worst job that I could think of or the most challenging job because you're matching up clients and you're matching up times and you're matching up availability of the workers.

So that's really, really critical. Some providers are looking for and have packages within those school hours. So that school mum that's looking for the 9:00 until 3:00 sort of role is the perfect fit for that. Other providers have earlier morning shifts, breakfast shifts, showering shifts. Those candidates might not be suitable for that. So that's where we look for the candidates that are most child free. No ... for another reason. They're child free, they're available to work earlier so they might be a better fit for the provider than the person with all the best intentions but simply can't get to that shift until 10 o'clock. A lot of factors come into finding the right candidate and matching them with the right provider but it's really availability, travel distance and them getting into the right reason of the job.

The other thing that we've been able to do with our free employment programs, expose those candidates to work simulations and roles like that so they know what they're doing. So therefore we're making sure that they're going into the industry with all the knowledge we can possibly give them too. Because when a candidate applies for a role they don't necessarily understand the role more than the advert on Seek or what their friend's told them at the barbecue. These pre-employment groups have been really good at giving them the information from the horse's mouth, the provider's mouth of what the requirements and things like that are. So they go into the role with a better understanding too.

Daniel Forbes:

We work with these applicants to package up for providers. So what we're looking to package is a copy of the driver's licence, comprehensive insurance on their vehicle, three times vaccination for COVID, flu vaccination which in the next week should be readily available again or actually it's probably this week, the working with children check, NDIS check, aged care check, police check and what providers need.

This can cost a lot of money and some people can't pay for this overnight. And so the ability of the program allows us to fund this, to fast track people so they don't take those roles outside. So if we can get them to start that police check and ideally put them into this pre-employment program and then they can get the results of that while they're in training and then be sent out for an interview. So it does come through with speed again with providers. And if providers are available to meet with people faster we also look to do that faster too, to have those interviews filled faster.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thanks Greg and Daniel. We've got two questions at the minute. So if you're out there watching and you've thought of anything please don't leave it off, we'll get an answer for you.

Q:          So how do you determine which provider gets staff sent to them if they say both have the same requirements? Is it first in, first served?

Greg Bowden:

Always quite the balancing act. And my role and my team's role in that case when we're working with a candidate that's come from the ACA recruitment side, we look at the best fit for the candidate and provider matched together because not everybody is the same. We go back to the availability, the travel distance, everything like that. Not everybody is in the same suburb, within the same travel distance with the same amount of clients and shifts available.

Daniel Forbes:

And we do try to keep it even too. So if it is a 50-50 call and it becomes one we'll then go 50-50 the other way next time. So that can be a challenge, who do we look to when there are a number of people. But often there's, as Greg's indicating, a little bit edging someone one way or the other. And then we just keep working with providers and trying to engage them as much as possible. So we can do shared ads or anything like this to help providers to gain more people into their system as well. So we're looking at all ways that we can help you.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you. The next question.

Q:          Who pays for the certificate courses and which RTOs deliver in regional settings?

Daniel Forbes:

It depends where you are. So TAFE throughout regional. Limestone Coast down in the southeast do - I always get this acronym wrong. They're a Whyalla-based RTO which is CET I believe. So I apologise to them for getting their acronym wrong. However they're a Whyalla-based RTO. Ultimately Sally up in the Northern Territory has her own RTO, Charles Darwin University.

We'll work with any RTO. So we're not restrictive. We work with any GTO, we work with any provider. So it really comes down to who you want to work with. If we do a pre-employment program with someone that you would rather not use because you have a relationship with a different provider we will transfer that person over to the different provider. It's about what works best for the candidate, the applicant and the provider. So it really is what's the best outcome.

Andrew Dunbar:

And I think on that who pays for the certificate courses, there's a range of incentives for traineeships and then fee-free TAFE. The Commonwealth has - I can't remember if there's 18,000 fee-free training places for aged care qualifications. So there's no shortage of willingness to pay for that. I think in a lot of ways this is where it's about getting the people who are willing to see it through and complete it as well. Do you have a perspective on that one Daniel or Greg?

Daniel Forbes:

Just to only add on that what you were saying there Andy. So there's often an admin fee. So we've had approval from Andy to cover that but not the accredited units, the cost of those, with the exception as you said of first aid. So manual handling, first aid, a small admin fee we have been able to assist with candidates for who are doing the Certificate III when they're going into employment. And as Andy said those TAFE-free courses.

Most providers are telling us that they've gained approval because this qualification is for a position on the National Skills Needs List, that they're able to continue delivering a Certificate III without a cost to the participant or the business. This is a bit changing as (a) the qualification changes, as we were referring to before, and the skillsets and others. But it's really around not making a barrier for those participants and getting them into that training as early as possible.

Greg Bowden:

I think you hit the nail on the head too Andy. It is about the candidates that will see it through. Retention is very, very important and that's where our industry mentor can help. Because when somebody's going into anything new, training, a job, anything like that, there's a lot of questions that they have. And if they're unsupported going into that training without those questions they can get lost in the system. So supporting them through the course, how the course is implemented, their workplace training record books for no use of a better term, and seeing it through to their qualification is very, very important. So just giving them that extra support to get them all the way through is critical as well.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you very much. The next question we've got is related to:

Q:          Are you able to assist with employers offering casual roles and permanent roles or are the latter preferenced?

Daniel Forbes:

Well we prefer permanent because there's greater security for the individual and yourselves. But ultimately that's a discussion between the candidate and yourselves, what works best with your business. The transition from casual to permanent from a marketing perspective does generate different applicants. So we encourage providers to look at all bits. So if you have a casual workforce is that their choice? Have you considered taking that through with offering people permanency? Does it have other ongoing effects with you? So yeah we're happy to work with people on those conversations and look more broadly at those businesses.

Some people do prefer the casual aspect and some like that security. So really we're putting ads for both out to be fair because we are just looking for everyone. But with that question before, that can be a determining factor between if a provider's after more permanent type staff as opposed to more casual staff. Those can be bits that play a factor as well.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you very much. We have one question left. So let's get them in if we've got anything people. We don't want to miss this opportunity. And like I said we'll follow-up, we'll send out written responses to everything, put all the links in the information so that nothing gets missed, make sure the slides go out as well. Someone's asked:

Q:          Is Hayley the best contact for ACA in South Australia for this program?

Daniel Forbes:

Yeah. But any of us. So yeah Hayley with her mobile number please call her. It is 0482 166 715 and she's much better at answering her phone than I am and getting back to people. But as I said Greg, myself, Hayley, the rest of the team, we are here to help providers. So please reach out, please have those conversations with us because we're only here until March 2024 and if you're not using us your competitors will.

Greg Bowden:

Hayley's got a fantastic team behind her. So rather than putting 16 numbers on the screen it's a fantastic first point of contact. So if she doesn't know the answer she's got a fantastic team behind her to answer it.

Andrew Dunbar:

Thank you very much. And I think we'll drag this out just a little bit to give anyone else who might be considering a question or typing one out an opportunity to do so. It might be worth as we fade out to our Webex team to maybe put that slide back up with the QR code just in case anyone did miss it as well.

I don't know if we can do that team. But if worst came to worst like I said we'll send this out and distribute it so that everyone gets all the resources. A really good opportunity to just put the contact details up one last time for anyone that is interested. And just to check Hayley is a good contact point for South Australia and the Northern Territory at least, she'll be able to flick people on?

Daniel Forbes:

Correct. Yeah.

Andrew Dunbar:


Daniel Forbes:

Yeah. We're working with both areas so yeah.

Andrew Dunbar:

All right. Well thank you very much Daniel and Greg for your time this afternoon. And thank you to everyone who tuned in and stayed the course, it's much appreciated.

Greg Bowden:

No worries.

Daniel Forbes:

Thank you.

[Closing visual of slide with text saying 'Apprenticeship Careers Australia', 'For more information contact Hayley, 0482 166 715', with photo of an aged care worker and her client, with speakers connecting via videoconference and visible on the right-hand side of the screen]

[End of Transcript]


Presentation slides


  • Craig Dunkeld, Director, Market and Workforce, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Daniel Forbes, Apprenticeship Careers Australia

Do you provide home care? Is your organisation looking to increase the size, skills and capability of its workforce? Then come along and meet our Home Care Workforce Support Program provider in Queensland and see what they have learned about workforce development and how they can assist you to meet your workforce needs. 

This webinar will provide an overview of the program and an interactive forum where you can meet and engage with our service providers who will share valuable information about workforce development and practical case studies gleaned throuthout the program.


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