One shift can make all the difference for aged care worker Sherree Clarke. But in the midst of a pandemic, she actually saw fewer of them.
“It has been very challenging in our sector,” she says.
“My particular workplace has actually cut staff and hours at a time that we needed to give more support to our residents … giving more insecurity to workers with losing hours and not as many shifts available.”
Sherree has cared for our elderly for more than 20 years now. But it’s this lack of consistent, dependable work that sees her one cut away from being unable to care for herself.
“It’s led me to insecure house accommodations, where I’m living in a caravan park because I don’t want to sign a rental lease then not be able to pay my rent and get evicted,”
“But I know I’m living at my safety net. Anything happens further to my work and my conditions I face being homeless. I’ve got nowhere else to fall after the caravan park.”
Sherree describes being stuck in a “negative cycle” that leaves her feeling “there’s really not much hope.”
And that’s why she fears for a future under the Morrison Government’s new industrial relations legislation.
“It seems to be a blow against the workers, and especially the frontline workers throughout COVID, who went out every day,” she says of the bill.
“I did everything I could to protect our elders, but the thanks from the Government is actually to create more insecurities, more fears,”
“It’s no recognition.”
But worst of all, Sherree knows this is not just her story.
“I know I’m not alone in this struggle,”
“In the caravan park where I live, there’s a lot of insecure, low-paid workers who are trying to get ahead in life. But every time they seem to get ahead they get knocked down again.”
“This new bill is not going to make it easier for us to give back to and spend in our community. It’s going to make it much more harder to scrimp and get by, just to survive.”