Wednesday, 29 January 2020
NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) CEO, Joanna Quilty is in Tamworth today to make the case to Federal MP, Barnaby Joyce that local service providers, including counselling and mediation, parenting programs and mental health services, need their funding guaranteed.
Currently, Federal Government funding to cover the cost of mandated wage rises for some employees on the Social and Community Services Award expires on 30 June 2021.
NCOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to incorporating this dedicated wage funding into baseline social and community services funding post June 2021.
The funding deadline comes as recently released data highlights the significant economic disadvantage that exists in regional NSW, including in and around the New England region.
According to the research from NCOSS, and conducted by NATSEM at the University of Canberra:
- On average, 13.3 per cent of people in NSW are living with economic disadvantage and in regional NSW, the average is 14.6 per cent.
- In Tamworth West, 24.6 per cent of the population is living in economic disadvantage and in Glen Innes, 18.2 per cent of the population is living in economic advantage.
Ms Quilty said community organisations perform a critical role in helping the most disadvantaged, and their funding must be guaranteed, or services risk being affected.
“These services employ dedicated and experienced staff who are often dealing with increased demand and increasing complexity,” she said.
“This is a sector that already runs on a shoestring and we need the Federal Government to guarantee this funding so they can move forward with confidence.
“Recently released data from NCOSS and NATSEM highlight just how significant the job can be for these organisations, particularly in rural and regional NSW.
“These workers are at the frontline of service delivery - they support women escaping violent relationships, people who are homeless and kids who have experienced trauma and abuse.
“Bushfires and drought in regional communities will have long lasting impacts and will further increase demand for community services and support.
“Even a funding cut of $20,000 can mean the difference between providing a weekly outreach service or not. For smaller organisations this kind of loss can mean they have to close their doors.”
To find out more about NCOSS, visit: www.ncoss.org.au
Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138
In 2012, the Fair Work Commission determined that employees in the (predominantly female) social and community services sector did not receive equal remuneration for work of comparable value undertaken by state and local government employees. It made an Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) mandating pay rises of between 23% and 45% for the sector, to be phased in over eight years and in addition to normal annual wage increases.
At the time, the Commonwealth Government committed to additional funding for organisations funded through specified federal government programs to meet the costs of the wage increase. Affected programs included family violence prevention, family relationship services, mental health support, alcohol and drug services, housing assistance and homelessness prevention.
For organisations with contracts already on foot, this additional funding came in the form of yearly supplementary payments guaranteed by legislation, enabling them to meet award requirements.
The legislation guaranteeing supplementary ERO payments comes to an end on 30 June 2021.The federal government has no plans to continue the funding despite the ongoing obligation to pay award wages. It will mean cuts of up to $554.5 million per annum across the sector.