The Shire of Esperance council has unanimously supported a move to provide Esperance Home Care staff with an additional payment, recognising that they do not receive the same retention allowance as other shire employees.
The decision to pay employees an alternative staff retention was made behind closed doors during the council meeting on Tuesday, June 25.
The council passed the officer's recommendation to provide a cash payment equal to $1 per hour worked in the last financial year for Level 2, 3 and 4 community support workers and a $299 gift card to employees Level 5 and above to those that had worked at Esperance Home Care for more than 6 months during 2018/19.
Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott said the additional payment recognised the hard work of staff in an important sector in our community.
"Part of our EBA is that most staff get a retention allowance as part of their wages," he said.
"Unfortunately, for home care staff we cannot do that as it is a fully-funded service and the funding arrangements do not allow for additional payments outside the scope of the Homecare Award.
"Home care is one of those services that is very popular and useful for our community and well-utilised but does not actually pay that well.
"What we have done, and have done in previous years, is put to council an alternative way of trying to show an additional benefit to those employees who are missing out on benefits that fellow shire employees get because of the nature of their work and the funding arrangements."
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 229,500 people entered residential aged care, home care or transition care in 2017/28 - an increase of 42 per cent since 2008/09.
Shire president Victoria Brown said the growing sector was one that needed attention and that she saw it as the role of councillors to lobby both the state and federal government on the issue.
"I talk to a lot of the people that work in aged care and home care and it is a thankless task and, as Mr Scott has said, it is not well paid at all," she said.
"Aged care is just going to grow more and more and, of course, we've had the new wing opened at our facility here.
"Council have been having discussions, and I have too, with state and federal politicians about aged care generally.
"Council recognise that it's going to be a bit of a conflict going forward because it's going to be a service that's needed more and more but people are reluctant to get in there and do the job because it's so badly paid.
"I certainly see it as a role of councillors to lobby the state and federal government every time we see the ministers to say that we're going to have to look at this.
"Otherwise, we're going to end up with facilities that are understaffed and aged people not being able to get the care and go into these facilities."