8 August 2014, Australian Ageing Agenda
Ethno-specific aged care provider Fronditha Care has been given the green light to sponsor 60 overseas personal care workers in the first agreement to be struck with the Federal Government. It comes amid growing calls for personal care workers to be added to the Skilled Occupations List.
The three-year labour agreement, which had union backing, will allow the Victorian provider to recruit Greek-speaking care workers under the same wages and conditions as local employees.
Under the terms of the deal, the overseas workers will need to have a Cert III in Aged Care attained locally and an English language competency of 5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Fronditha chief executive George Lekakis told Australian Ageing Agenda the deal would allow some of the organisation’s Greek-speaking workers currently employed on a student visa, which permits them to work 20 hours per week, to be transferred to full-time employment on a four-year visa.
Former staff that have returned to Greece will also be recruited back to the organisation under this program to help meet the communication needs of residents, he said.
“The care workers will be offered an annualised salary of over $54,000 and health insurance for each year of the labour agreement,” said Mr Lekakis. The organisation can recruit up to 20 overseas care workers per year under the deal.
Labour agreements allow employers to recruit overseas workers in areas of skills shortages that don’t qualify for existing skilled migration programs. The application by Fronditha was the first labour agreement to be negotiated between the government and a health and community services provider.
Assistant Minister for Immigration Michaelia Cash said the evidence required to demonstrate the need to sponsor an overseas worker was significantly higher under a labour agreement than other programs, including the subclass 457 program.
For example, an employer has to demonstrate why vacancies cannot be filled locally and provide evidence of all attempts to recruit local staff over a six-month period. Unions and employer groups must also be consulted on the proposal.