Aged care workers are being urged to stop working across multiple Victorian sites to prevent further spreading the coronavirus.
The Commonwealth announced on Sunday it would inject cash into the aged care sector to ensure staff can earn more working at just one centre.
“There will be the capacity for additional funds for additonal periods of work for individuals to remain within a single aged-care facility,” Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Sunday.
“That is the goal which we have agreed upon with the support of the workforce and Victoria and the aged care facilities.”
Hundreds of staff and aged-care residents have been infected with the virus in the state, with outbreaks at numerous aged-care centres.
“We know there have been residents in 16 aged care facilities who have been infected and clients in three home care services that have been infected. All up 103 residents and 120 staff,” Mr Hunt said on Sunday.
“When you include those facilities that have staff, that would make 49 residential care facilities and six home care services.”
In recent days, staff have worked across multiple aged care centres and authorities have then confirmed outbreaks at those sites.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the Commonwealth was funding the package to help employers minimise movement of staff.
“We know we have a transient workforce, in many cases a casualised workforce, working across many aged-care facilities,” she said.
“There will be funding, to be provided, to ensure that aged-care employers cover any additional entitlement, to enable employers to work at a single site.”
The Health Workers Union on Friday lodged a legal challenge in the Federal Circuit Court to stop not-for-profit Mecwacare from sacking its employees if they work for a second employer.
This latest package is on top of the state government’s $1500 hardship payment for workers who have to self-isolate for 14 days after being diagnosed with the virus or a close contact to someone with it.
Aged-care workers can also get free testing with the federal government sending five mobile teams.
The federal government will also send one million masks to regional Victorian aged-care facilies and one million masks will be given to disability workers.
An inspection blitz has also been announced in the state to target at-risk workplaces including those with known COVID-19 cases, or where there is a high risk of COVID-19.