Ballarat is feeling the pain of Victoria's skills shortage in the aged care sector, according to a local recruitment agency.
Rebecca Ponsonby works for Workforce XS in Ballarat Central and has found aged care to be one of the sectors in which she has more roles than she can fill.
"It's also difficult because some people got their certificates in aged care to fulfil Centrelink requirements, but don't want to work in it and have no passion or empathy, " Ms Ponsonby said.
"I've been in recruitment for 15 or 16 years, and there are certain courses that just everyone went and did or were forced to do."
David Eden is Assistant Secretary at the Health Workers Union and agrees that you need to have empathy, stamina and life experience to succeed in the industry.
"Aged care is something you have to have a passion for, those just ticking boxes are not going to stay in the industry," he said.
"It's an absolute slog, I worked in aged care for 15 years and loved every minute of it but if I didn't have really supportive staff around me there's no way I would have survived."
Following a damning royal commission into the sector, the federal government pledged $452m to pay for immediate measures in March 2021.
The final report made 148 recommendations and found that a third of those in aged care received sub standard care.
Aged care is something you have to have a passion for, those just ticking boxes are not going to stay in the industryDavid Eden, Assistant Secretary at Health Services Union.
"People try to cut corners and there's just a really poor reputation of the industry," Mr Eden said.
Darren Gray is the Director of Operations at Federation TAFE in Ballarat. Students there study a Certificate Three in Individual Support as a pathway into aged care.
"We currently have 40 students in this course, which is steady with last year but we're planning for future growth." he said.
"We've also introduced 15 traineeships to address skill shortages at Ballarat Health Services."
Mr Gray said students who go on work placement tend to get offered a job with the same organisation.
"This is a priority sector for us."
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Bronwyn Taylor has been employed as a personal care worker at Hepburn House aged care home in Daylesford since October 2020.
She finds the work difficult but rewarding and has enjoyed it more than her hospitality jobs in the past.
"After I finished school eight years ago I wanted to do aged care and my parents kind of talked me out of it. I sort of fell into it by accident last year," she said.
Ms Taylor studied a Certificate Four in Aging Support as well as a Certificate Four in Leisure in Health online via the Sebastopol Community Centre last year. Following her placement at Hepburn House, she was offered an ongoing position.
"It's definitely really rewarding, everyday you have these little moments with the residents and it lights up your day," she said.
"Every day is different and it's honestly one of the best things I've done in a long time."
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