Aged care workforce needs and the under-development of gerontology education in Australia

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Given Australia's ageing population, the capacity of Australian health professionals and aged care services workers to provide proactive support and appropriate care is fundamental. While much of the policy emphasis has been on increasing workforce numbers, particularly within the residential aged care sector, the development of gerontology education for all health practitioners also requires attention. This paper critically analyses the state of gerontology education in Australia through reference to key policy documents and secondary sources. It commences with an overview of the policy context and significance of gerontology education in Australia, with particular attention to the 2011 Productivity Commission review of the aged care sector. This position is then contrasted to the under-developed state of gerontology education in Australia. The disjuncture between workforce policy urgency and educational under-development is briefly considered with reference to the incapacity of neoliberal approaches to meet social needs. It is argued that the disadvantaged position of gerontology education under neoliberal higher education policies is but one aspect of the broader neoliberal assault on older people, particularly through the withering of the welfare state and public services that many rely upon.The commodification of higher education, social care and arguably, older people, helps explain the unpreparedness of 2 gerontology education and educators to respond to the workforce shortages now receiving belated policy attention. Overall, the paper finds that the field of gerontology education is in need of greater research, pedagogical and policy attention, particularly for existing health practitioners and in the building of aged care career pathways. It will be essential that any government workforce initiative is not just about enticing enrolments, but also invests in the development of the gerontology discipline and its teaching personnel.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 Proceedings of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Conference
Subtitle of host publicationReflections, Intersections and Aspirations: 50 Years of Australian Sociology
EditorsNick Osbaldiston, Catherine Strong, Helen Forbes-Mewett
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherThe Sociological Association of Australia (TASA)
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780646911267
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event2013 TASA Conference - Monash University, Caulfield campus, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Nov 201328 Nov 2013


Conference2013 TASA Conference
Abbreviated titleReflections, intersections and aspirations: 50 years of Australian sociology
OtherThe conference celebrates 50 years of Australian Sociology and is hosted by the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University. The conference will be held at the conveniently located Caulfield campus directly opposite the Caulfield train station – a short train ride to Melbourne city centre. Monash last hosted the conference in 1999 and has since continued to develop a national and international standing with the capacity to advance sociology as a discipline.
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