Pay rise for aged care workers

First listen to May 28 2012.

Workers who care for old people in rest homes or in their own home will get a very big pay rise on June 1st.

Five years ago, one care worker, Kristine Bartlett, took a case to the court. She claimed that she was paid a low wage because she was a woman and nearly all of the people doing this kind of work were women. Although the Equal Pay Act of 1972 gave women the right to the same pay as men doing the same job, men didn’t do this job. She argued that the Equal Pay Act also meant pay equity with men. Equity means fairness. Her union supported her and so did other the 55,000 workers caring for old people.

After five years of court cases, the government finally decided that this was an equity issue and yesterday agreed to pay these workers a fairer wage. The Minister of Health, Jonathon Coleman, said they will be paid according to their qualifications and experience. At the moment, 20,000 are paid just the minimum wage of $15.75 even though they have had years of experience doing this job. After June 1st, they will get an extra $4 to $7, depending on their background. Many of the care workers are migrants who qualified as nurses in their own country.

What kind of work do they do? Each rest home for elderly people, must have some trained nurses on duty at all times but most of the day-to-day jobs are done by care workers. These include showering, dressing, feeding and many other jobs. Some care workers travel to different private homes to help elderly people, and they do many of the same jobs.

Jonathon Coleman said their pay would increase from June 1st and would cost the government $2bn over the next 5 years.


aged care – care of aged people, old people, elderly people. These three words mean the same but aged is more formal, elderly is more polite than old. Note that when it is used as an adjective in front of a noun or as a noun (eg. care of the aged) it is given 2 syllables – age/-ed but when it is used like this example: he is aged 80, it is one syllable.

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