About 500 members of the Health Services Union (HSU), United Voice, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and other unions gathered in Hyde Park on April 19 to "Rally for Respect: Time to Care for Aged Care."
Speakers represented the various health sector unions, as well as UnionsNSW, and Labor federal and state politicians.
Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government has cut billions of dollars from the aged care sector. This has had an enormous impact on the lives of older Australians in care, their families and those who care for them.
One HSU delegate said: "We need a government that will fund aged care properly. The cuts to the sector over recent years have affected us greatly.
"We need funding that is reliable and sustainable over time. We owe this to our elders, who have cared for us all in the past."
United Voice NSW branch secretary Mel Gatfield told the gathering: "Over the next 30 years, Australia will have another 1.2 million people over the age of 85. Our elderly have a right to dignity, and to properly funded, affordable, quality health care.
"The aged care system is in crisis. We currently have 100,000 people on the waiting list for aged care packages.
"About 90% of the aged care workforce is women. Our workers are on low pay, many are casual and they have difficult working hours.
"Aged care workers want more respect, better pay and improved training. The government needs to substantially increase funding to the sector."
Other speakers included NSW Labor opposition leader Luke Foley, federal shadow minister for aged care Julie Collins, and HSU state secretary Gerard Hayes.
Rally chairperson and UnionsNSW secretary Mark Morey told the rally: "The federal government has cut $1.2 billion from aged care, but meanwhile is pushing for a $65 billion tax cut for big corporations. We have to make aged care a number one issue."