Media release: ACT Government responds to ACTCOSS call to protect community sector wages

18 August 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed an announcement by ACT Minister for Community Services, Suzanne Orr MLA, committing $9 million to maintain pay levels for community sector workers set out in the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO).

In 2012 the Fair Work Commission made a landmark decision that addresses the undervaluation of work performed in much of the community services sector.

As a result, wages increased by up to 45% over 10 years, and most governments across Australia, including the ACT Government, provided additional funding to ensure that community sector organisations could address the gender based inequality in wages paid to workers in our sector, and maintain essential services to communities.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “We warmly welcome this important announcement that directly responds to long-term advocacy by ACTCOSS. Our sector delivers critical support to the Canberra community through diverse services including housing, domestic violence, childcare, disability, drug and alcohol treatment, palliative care, support for carers, aged care, and healthcare.

“The community sector workforce is highly skilled, dedicated and professional. The ERO is intrinsic to recognising the value of our work.”

As of August 2020, using Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has calculated the national gender pay gap as14.0% for full-time employees,a difference of $253.60 per week, with the gap in the Healthcare and Social Assistance industry standing at 21.3%.

Dr Campbell said: “As we approach Equal Pay Day on Friday 28 August, this announcement by the ACT Government is an important contribution to addressing equal pay for community sector workers, around 80% of whom are women.

“Ensuring the continuation of the ERO supplementation is one of the most effective steps governments can take to address the gender pay gap.

“We also welcome the commitment to embark on a collaborative approach to commissioning and procurement of community services. This also responds to a key ACTCOSS election call.

“We encourage all ACT political parties to commit to cover the cost of the ERO and to revitalise the commissioning, procurement and contract management process across the ACT Government in partnership with the community sector.

“We also call on the Commonwealth Government to follow the example set by the ACT. The Morrison Government must similarly commit to continued funding of the ERO for Federally funded community services. If the Commonwealth Government does not commit to renewing this funding, the combined risks of widening the gender pay gap and the impact on service delivery to vulnerable community members will be substantial,” Dr Campbell said.

Find the ACT Minister for Community Services’ media release here.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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