Survey shows community services and workers at risk from funding uncertainty

From the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)

Community service leaders across the country are concerned that the Federal Government is yet to commit to the continuation of funding put in place to ensure staff can be fairly paid in this important sector. The sector provides homelessness, food relief, mental health and many other community services.

A survey of community service sector leaders has found that without the renewal of this funding, community service organisations would be forced to reduce staff or services.

The funding (Equal Remuneration Order Supplementation funding) was put in place almost a decade ago to provide fair pay in the highly feminised sector.

The survey was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney in collaboration with the Councils of Social Service of Australia, supported by Community Sector Banking

The survey shows more than half of child, youth and family community services; housing and homeless services; and aging, disability and carer services currently receive the Equal Remuneration Order Supplementation funding. 

CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, Cassandra Goldie, said: 
“People reach out to workers in community service sector in times of great need, such as when they’re escaping domestic violence, facing homelessness or struggling with their mental health.”

Cassandra Goldie

“Community service sector workers deserve fair pay for their important work. 
“It’s incredibly concerning that the Federal Government has yet to commit to the continuation of funding put in place to ensure staff are paid fairly in this sector, which is made up of 80% women.

“Cutting funding for community sector workers would mean less people to help those who reach out in times of great need. 

“In Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, people should be able to rely on community services.

“In the lead up to International Women’s Day, we’re calling on the Federal Government to commit to continuing to provide to Equal Remuneration Order Supplementation funding, which was established almost a decade ago to provide fair pay in the feminised community service sector,” Dr Goldie said.

Community sector leaders who responded to the survey said:

The impact on our organisations will be staff reduction, reduced service provision and ultimately less clients able to access the service.  This is a disaster in the making! (CEO, NSW service

It will force us to reduce direct service delivery and reduce operational costs for the organisation, placing more pressure on us as a whole and therefore reduce what we deliver. (CEO, QLD service

It will see waiting lists increase because capacity is reduced (even though demand outstrips capacity now!) (CEO, ACT service)

Read the survey. The survey was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney in collaboration with the Councils of Social Service of Australia, supported by Community Sector Banking.

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