PSI welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy (hereafter ‘the strategy’). The strategy proposes important improvements in the approach to care systems in Australia. In particular, the clear commitment to achieve decent work for care workers, to address the gender pay gap and historic devaluation of women’s care labour, to develop integrated approaches across care systems and to further develop specific strategies (roadmaps), through consultative processes are commended.
However, PSI believes the strategy can be improved by recognising the human right to quality care and anchoring the strategy around the fulfilment of that right. The strategy is undermined by including a goal to foster a market for the delivery of care. PSI’s work around the world, and in Australia, has repeatedly demonstrated that a market-based approach to public services results in lower wages and conditions for workers, a significant erosion in the quality of services, often resulting in significant human rights violations and particularly impacting on low-income communities and higher costs to users and the public.