The “community sector” as its come to be known is a series of organisations being paid by the government to provide social services that would otherwise be the responsibility of the Government.
It’s grown like topsy in the last 20 years because the community sector providers have found cheaper ways to deliver services than Governments can manage.
A major way they’ve done this is by finding people willing to do the work for much less money than Governments have been able to do.
“In May 2011, Fair Work Australia found that employees in the SACS industry are predominantly women and are generally remunerated at a level below that of employees of state and local governments who perform similar work,” ACT Greens Leader, Meredith Hunter, said today.
“This brought to the public’s attention a fact many in the community sector have known for a long time, namely that much of this vital work has been undervalued and underpaid.”
“After many months of waiting, today’s announcement of pay increases of between 18-40% over 8 years is a much needed validation of the important work of over 200,000 people nationally, working in social services, disability support and other community services.
Which rather renders the community sector redundant and certainly means we’re going to have less services, and probably less employment.
But it will be more fair.
UPDATE: Minister for Community Services Joy Burch has announced that in the short term the ACT Government is going to make good the difference:
“I am pleased to announce that we will fund the increased salary costs for community sector organisations that deliver programs through agreements with the ACT Government,” Ms Burch said.
“The ACT Labor Government’s commitment means that many Community Sector workers will receive significant wage increases without their employers having to compromise on service delivery to fund the outcome of the case.”
“Today the ACT Labor Government is standing up to support community workers with fair pay, particularly for women, who make up the bulk of the workforce in the sector.”
Ms Burch said she was pleased that the ACT Council of social Services had welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement, as the Government had worked closely with the sector to develop the best response for the community and the sector.
She said the impact of the decision on the Budget would be proportionately less in the ACT than other jurisdictions, as community workers here were already paid more than their interstate counterparts.
“Thanks to a tradition of support by the ACT Labor Government, at least 85 per cent of employers in the community sector in the ACT currently pay their employees above the Award.
“We understand the sector will require support over the phase in period as the new Award impacts upon them, and the Government is today providing certainty that funding will be increased by an amount equivalent to the impact on their salary costs.”
Preliminiary calculations estimate the impact of today’s decision on the ACT Government to be $27 million over eight years.