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Community groups calls on State Government to support plans for aged care worker essential housing in Denmark

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
Denmark Futures chair Trevor Hunt and executive officer Juliet Grist.
Camera IconDenmark Futures chair Trevor Hunt and executive officer Juliet Grist. Credit: Serena Kirby

Key Denmark community groups have come together to urge the State Government to commit “urgent funding” to housing for essential aged care workers in the town.

A joint pre-budget submission recently presented to relevant ministers has asked for $5.1 million to be set aside in this year’s State Budget to provide 12 affordable rental homes for aged care workers.

It highlights an existing shortfall of aged care workers in the town equivalent to 33 full-time positions and that the number is expected to grow to more than 50 by 2031 when a third of Denmark residents are expected to be over the age of 65.

The 11-page submission is the result of collaboration between Denmark Futures, Denmark Community Resource Centre, Silverchain, Denmark Chamber of Commerce, Denmark Community Foundation, Baptiscare at Home, Amaroo@Home, A Care WA and the Shire of Denmark.

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There’s simply not enough aged care workers here to support them. There are essential workers who want to work here but they can’t come as there’s nowhere for them to live.

Denmark Futures chair Trevor Hunt

As part of the submission Denmark Futures is proposed to take the lead on the project if capital funding is secured from the State.

DF chair Trevor Hunt said Denmark’s rental shortage was seriously impacting the community’s big number of older residents who needed in-home care.

“Denmark’s percentage of senior residents is far higher than the national average and more than half of those people are on the aged pension,” he said.

“There’s simply not enough aged care workers here to support them.

“There are essential workers who want to work here but they can’t come as there’s nowhere for them to live.”

The submission highlights the average salary of an Australian care worker is just over $60,000 and that the median Denmark rent of $433 per week is considered unaffordable, according to a rental affordability Index.

According to the submission, affordable housing would be offered to the average personal care worker at a rate no higher than $353 per week.

Mr Hunt said the housing shortage was impacting Denmark more than many other WA communities because its population was growing faster than average “and our percentage of older residents is growing even faster”.

“Denmark is also one of the top three least affordable local government areas for home buyers and renters,” he said.

“The quality of life of these older citizens is at serious risk and that has ramifications for the whole community.”

The submission also notes the main barrier is capital funding because there a number of suitable sites available for the project and architects and builders had been secured.

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