Australian Defence Force support to be extended in residential aged care

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

Media contact

02 6277 7800

The Hon Anika Wells MP

Minister for Aged Care

Minister for Sport

Release content

24 July 2022

Joint media release

  • The Hon Anika Wells MP, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport


Residential aged care homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks will be able to receive help from Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel until the end of September.

The Australian Government will extend and increase the ADF support for aged care beyond the current end date of 12 August 2022. The extension, till 30 September 2022, complements the Government’s existing surge workforce resources provided by commercial suppliers that remain in place until 31 December 2022.

The decision reflects the seriousness of the Omicron COVID-19 variant high community transmission rates and the challenges faced by aged care homes as a result

The ADF has provided clinical and non-clinical support to aged care homes hit by COVID-19 related staffing shortages since February this year. 

The assistance continues to provide relief to aged care staff at a time of ongoing high workloads, stress, fatigue and a growing number of forced absences due to COVID-19 infection.

As at 22 July 2022, there were over 1,000 active outbreaks of COVID-19 in residential aged care homes across Australia. These outbreaks have had a significant impact on staff and their ability to deliver the quality care older Australians deserve.

The impact of Omicron subvariants is expected to increase over the coming months, intensifying workforce pressures in the sector.

Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Defence, the Hon. Richard Marles said the ADF support teams would be restructured, with more personnel made available. Up to 250 ADF general duties personnel may be deployed for the aged care support, in addition to clinician-led teams.

“The ADF teams have provided vital relief to a large number of aged care homes affected by serious COVID-19 outbreaks,”  the Deputy Prime Minister said.

The Hon. Minister Anika Wells, Minister for Aged Care said, “Aged care providers and individual homes have a responsibility to manage staff, including surge workforce arrangements.

“When sufficient staff can’t be found during an outbreak, they will be able to ask the Department of Health and Aged Care to deploy a surge workforce, or ADF team, to support them through their immediate crisis. This is expected to be for short periods to allow more homes to be supported during outbreaks.

“We need to protect our most vulnerable during this winter wave, and support from the ADF until September 30 will help buttress the workforce crisis we have seen in the past.

“The defence force into aged care is an extreme measure and, while it’s great news that ADF personnel will be available to residential facilities until the end of September, my priority is making sure aged care facilities have ongoing capacity to meet workforce shortages."

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