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Registered nurses who work in aged care should have their HECS debt forgiven, Nationals leader David Littleproud said at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s jobs and skills summit.

Addressing the gathering of labor and business leaders in Parliament on Friday, Littleproud highlighted the HECS debt cancellation scheme for doctors and nurse practitioners working in rural and remote areas put in place by the former government. of coalition.

National Leader David Littleproud and Independent MP Allegra Spender shake hands.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“I’m sorry Jim [Chalmers]I will spend some of your money here,” he said.

“[We should] be pragmatic…trying to incentivize our youth, but also invest in our youth.

The proposal to write off the HECS debts of elder care nurses alone could, if implemented, cost the taxpayer more than $60 million.

But that’s only a fraction of the ongoing cost of covering the higher wages of an expanded aged care workforce if the Fair Work Commission backs union pressure for higher wages before the new mandatory minimum staffing (which should start next July).

The Grattan Institute estimates that fully funding a 25% wage increase for all older workers would cost the federal budget an additional $3 billion a year.

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Recruiting additional nurses amid global shortages is a major challenge for the government in delivering on its election promise to put a registered nurse in every nursing home 24 hours a day by July 2023.

Health Department modeling shows 14,000 more nurses are needed just to meet the bipartisan pledge to require aged care homes to have a registered nurse on site for 16 hours a day by October 2023.

Around 2,500 more would be needed to fulfill Labour’s 24/7 mandate, which the government will seek to legislate when parliament sits next week.

The Andrews government last week announced a plan to pay university fees for more than 10,000 nursing and midwifery students. The scholarships are worth $16,500 each, with $9,000 to be paid while they study and the remaining $7,500 if they work in Victoria Public Health Services for two years.

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