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Retaining workers in an ageing population: Insights from a representative aged and community care organisation


Associate Professor Siobhan Austen, School of Economics and Finance, Curtin University. Email:


Aim:  To provide new measures of employee retention in the aged care sector and to identify how employment retention varies across key groups of workers in the sector.

Method:  The techniques of survival analysis were applied to staff record data from a representative provider of aged and community care services.

Results:  We showed that 63% of carer employment spells end within 2 years. Fifty-seven per cent of nurse employment spells ended within this time period. Employment retention was poorest among young recruits, men and workers on casual contracts.

Conclusion:  The high rates of staff turnover add substantial costs and risks to aged care organisations and should be the focus of workforce strategies. Casual employment is one potential contributory factor. However, the role of wages and other working conditions should also be examined. Given the importance of mature-age women in the sector, strategies should focus on their circumstances and needs.