Media Release: Investment in community sector will reduce gender pay gap

31 August 2021

On Equal Pay Day 2021, the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has called on all governments to do more to reduce the ongoing gender pay gap and the resulting financial insecurity experienced by women in Canberra.
Research by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) calculated that the current ACT gender pay gap was nearly 8% for full-time employees. The national gender pay gap is 14%.
ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “The national gender pay gap has worsened over the last 12 months. This reflects the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women and women’s employment.
“The persistent gender pay gap in the ACT and nationally also reflects the gender segregation of the Australian workforce. Women are overrepresented in lower paying jobs in service industries and the community sector.
“The community sector in the ACT is largely a female dominated industry, with up to 80% of the labour force comprising of women. The persistent under-resourcing of the sector has led to low wages and insecure work and this is driving Australia’s gender pay gap.
“ACT community sector organisations have experienced rising costs and increased demand for services. Yet funding from the ACT Government and the Australian Government has not kept pace. As evidenced by the gender pay gap, wage levels and job security are too often the result of the chronic under-resourcing,” Dr Campbell said.
Recent research by the Everybody’s Home campaign for Homelessness Week 2021 found that essential community workers would need to spend between one-third to two-thirds of their weekly wages to rent an apartment in most Canberra suburbs forcing them into rental stress.
“While the ACT may have a gender pay gap lower than the national average, the ACT has some of the highest living costs in the country. This means that the overwhelmingly female community sector workforce is struggling to afford secure housing, health services and essential goods.
“To ensure that women in all workplaces are treated in an equitable manner and finally achieve pay equity, the ACT Government and the Australian Government must commit to appropriate funding for community sector,” Dr Campbell concluded.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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