The New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s decision to hold this Inquiry was prompted by two significant concerns. The first relates to the low pay, the undervaluing, and the pay disparity for many thousands of New Zealanders, the vast majority of them women, working in the aged care sector. The second relates to the nexus between the value society places on the aged care workforce and on the respect and dignity of older New Zealanders.
While the aged care sector has been subject to a multitude of reviews, reports and inquiries in recent years, there has not been a singular focus on equal employment opportunities issues linked to the human rights of older people. This Inquiry is overdue in terms of giving voice to the serious and legitimate claims of some of New Zealand’s most valuable but neglected workers, and the views of the people they care for.