Bill Shorten needs to be better prepared with some specifics when asked about Labor’s plan for job creation.
Obvious answers are the renewable energy industry and building infrastructure but there is one Labor initiative that never rates a mention that will create jobs in every part of Australia – the NDIS.
In July, the Productivity Commission released a report which estimated that “1 in 5 new jobs created in Australia over the next few years will need to be in the disability care sector” and that “Present policy settings are unlikely to see enough providers and workers as the scheme rolls out.”
Just to emphasise that point, “the NDIS workforce will need to more than double from 2014-15 to 2019-20, and the number of NDIS providers will need to increase by between four- and ten-fold.”
This is an enormous employment opportunity with a vast range of skills and abilities required.
The following are just a few areas of assistance needed by the aged and people living with a disability that could provide flexible employment opportunities:
Doctors who do house calls
Daily respite activity centres
Auslan interpreters for the deaf
Therapists – occupational, speech, physio
Training assistance animals
Meals on wheels
Assisting with computer skills and communication devices
Medication reviews and management
Legal services and financial advice
In the short term, the PC recommends giving experienced staff more hours to allow ‘on-the-job’ training and mentoring of new staff to expand the overall workforce more quickly.
During the transition period, they suggest temporarily relaxing the restriction that paid informal carers must not live at the same residence as the participant, which is an obstacle to providing care for those in rural and remote areas.
They also stress the importance of skilled migration where residual shortages remain persistent — especially in the case where allied health professionals may be lacking in particular regions.
While these measures will help to address workforce shortages in the transition period, more attention also needs to be paid to the longer-term training and development of the workforce.
Armed with appropriate regional information about demand for services, the government could incentivise certain courses and re-examine minimum standards and payment awards.
Facilitating people remaining in their homes with appropriate care and support not only improves productivity and quality of life for customers and their carers, it actually saves money as it is far more expensive to provide institutional care.
Tony Windsor, during the NBN debate, said the Senate had been told that If the package of technologies enabled by high-speed broadband can keep 5% of elderly people in their homes for just one extra year, Australia could save $60 billion over ten years on aged care facilities ($4 billion a year in bed operating costs and $20 billion in capital costs).
Speaking of the NBN, there’s another Labor initiative whose potential for job creation should be emphasised.
According to Antony Green, there is a high likelihood of a Commonwealth election in September-October 2018. If I was Bill, I would give every Labor MP the task of coming up with specific suggestions for job creation in their region and more broadly at a national level. If they spent a short while researching on the net, reading the many expert reports that are available and media commentary, they are more likely to have an informed basis for ideas than if they waste time drinking with locals at the pub or having photos taken with shovels.