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Catholic sector gets coveted summit invite

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“This week’s summit is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that the Catholic voice is heard around the table,” Mr Pat Garcia said in response to the Albanese Government’s invitation to attend. The Church is the second-biggest employer in the nation, given its extensive works in education and healthcare.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Pat Garcia will represent the not-for-profit health and aged care sector, and the Catholic sector more broadly, at the Albanese Government’s jobs summit.

“We are grateful to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese for extending an invitation to Catholic Health Australia. The invitation to the Summit is an important recognition by government of the church’s contributions in health, education, and community care,” Mr Garcia said.

“This week’s summit is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that the Catholic voice is heard around the table.”

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CHA is Australia’s largest non-government grouping of health and aged care services, and employs more than 80,000 people.

Mr Garcia said that workforce issues in health and aged care should be addressed urgently, after a CHA study by the University of Notre Dame found 80,000 vacancies across the sector.

“A fully funded wage increase is probably the most important piece of the workforce-shortage puzzle,” he said.

“But with almost 50,000 jobs unfilled in the aged-care sector we’ll need to move fast on other initiatives, such as better training and career prospects, as well as opening up pathways for bringing workers into Australia.”

The jobs summit – as far as the media is concerned – seems to boil down to big business and the unions.” – Francis Sullivan, CSSA

“There is no silver bullet. Only a concerted effort on all the levers available to us can ensure we have the right people to support those most in need in our community.”

Mr Garcia’s invitation comes after The Catholic Weekly’s report of 25 August that revealed no Catholic representatives would be present at the summit despite the Church employing nearly a quarter of a million Australians.

Invitations had already been extended to billionaires Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar, alongside unions and business representatives.

The Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia, Francis Sullivan, told The Catholic Weekly that representatives from the Catholic social services sector have traditionally been invited to consultations at this level.

“The jobs summit – as far as the media is concerned – seems to boil down to big business and the unions,” Mr Sullivan said. He said that the cost of living crisis could not be left to markets alone to solve, and that Catholic social thought did not support a “one trick pony” approach to economic matters.

“Clearly governments need to come back and intervene, grab hold of levers, so that cost of living pressures can be ameliorated quickly rather than letting it play out, as they always do, by pointing towards market solutions,” Mr Sullivan said.

According to 2017 research from the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations (ACCER), the Church employs approximately 220,000 Australians in a variety of sectors, including health, education and aged care.

In 2017 ACCER calculated the size of the Church’s jobs footprint, finding it employed a workforce nine-tenths of the size of the Commonwealth Government, bigger than the Woolworths Group, or the “Big Four” banks combined.

Their report, Our Work Matters, also found 77 per cent of the Catholic workforce were women.


No seat at jobs summit for nation’s biggest non-government employer

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