Australians agree: Itís time to support equal pay for community sector workers
12 April 2011
An overwhelming majority of Australians think community sector workers are underpaid and should be better rewarded for the work they do according to newly released polling from the Australian Council of Social Service.

Over 90% of people believe that workers in community services should be paid more than or equal to workers doing similar jobs in other industries, according to the polling conducted by EMC.

The findings come as Fair Work Australia prepares to retire today to consider the outcomes of the equal remuneration case, brought by the Australian Services Union on behalf of community sector workers.

Across all demographics the support for equal pay is overwhelming. 32% think they should be paid more and 59% think they should be paid about the same.

"We know the pay gap between community sector workers and those doing equal or comparable work is irrefutable. And with 85% of the community sector workforce women, this constitutes a significant gender pay gap," said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.

"This poll shows that the vast majority of Australians want community sector workers to be properly supported for the important work they do. Community sector employee's work with the most vulnerable people in Australia, in some of the most challenging environments and this should be recognised with adequate remuneration.

"Australia's not-for-profit sector employs nearly 900,000 people and contributes $43 billion to the nation's GDP. It is only reasonable for that contribution to be recognised. Government support is critical to achieve this, as much of the work of community services is funded by governments.

"Yet the Productivity Commission found that government funding routinely covers only 70% of the cost of delivering these vital services. It is workers who have been suffering as services stretch inadequate resources to support some of the most vulnerable people living in Australia.

"The success of the equal remuneration order before Fair Work Australia will only be as effective as the willingness of those who support the sector through funding."

"The challenge is now on the State and Federal Governments to support the findings of the Full Bench of FWA in this important case by committing to full funding of equal pay for community sector workers," Ms Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas, ACOSS, ph: 0419 626 155

Download:   ACOSS Media Release 12 April 2011