Local forum told more than 300,000 healthcare workers needed

Health Luncheon
The West Gippsland campus of GippsTAFE is set to substantially increase its aged care training programs, following a regional forum that was told more than 300,000 new health and community care workers will be needed in Australia over the next four to five years.

The forum was organised and hosted by GippsTAFE and included health care providers and health educators from across the State, who were addressed by Rod Cooke, CEO of the Community Services and Health Skills Council.

It was the inaugural regional luncheon, as the event is normally held in Melbourne, and it allowed the Gippsland and other regionally-based participants to obtain a thorough overview of what will be required in the next few years with relevance to regional needs.

GippsTAFE’s Warragul Campus Manager, Pip Griffiths, said the West Gippsland campus already had a comprehensive healthcare training program. “In view of the projected demand we are set to expand our programs in this field, not only to provide workers in the local area but to help train local people who want to gain employment in Gippsland or in other areas of the State. It is clear there are excellent employment opportunities in the aged care area.”

Mr Cooke told the audience that, as the population ages, individualised service to clients with increasingly complex needs will be the focus of future health and community care provision.

“With the age of the current work force and the projected growth in demand predicted that over the next four to five years, 323,000 new workers will be needed,” he said. “To cater to these needs health care providers and educators will need to be responsive and adaptable.”

VISTA, the peak body for Vocational Education and Training professionals ran a discussion forum, led by Mr Cooke.

Issues raised included the perceived lack of regulation in the provision of aged care and other sectors, the financial barriers to training from both individual and institutional perspectives, the demands on health care providers to provide placement to an increasing number of students, variation in the quality of training, a perceived lack of flexibility in training packages and the need to provide and uphold ongoing professional development to workers once they are qualified.

Attendees included Paul Butler from the Victorian Department of Health, Elaine Downs from the Victorian Community Services and Health Industry Training Board, representatives from Monash University and Bendigo TAFE as well as other training providers and health and aged care facilities.

At the close of the event, participants felt gratified that those who are in the position to influence policy and training are aware of the problems and are attempting to have them addressed in a meaningful way. The implementation of Gippsland’s Clinical Placement Network and the potential for development of the new Medicare Local structure – localised bodies that will guide primary health care services in each region – were seen as having the potential to address some of these concerns.

Ron Wilson, the Executive Director of VISTA, commended GippsTAFE “for having the initiative to organise a regional gathering on such an important issue” and indicated that VISTA would be open to participating in further regional events.

Pictured from left are: Ron Wilson, Executive Director of VISTA; Elaine Downs CEO of the Victorian Health and Community Services Industry Training Board; event coordinator Giselle Scorse who is a GippsTAFE Business Development Consultant; Pip Griffiths GippsTAFE Campus Manager; and Rod Cooke CEO of the national Community Services and Health Skills Council.