Australia's community services workers spend every day providing help where it's most needed -- with youth, at women's refuges and homeless shelters, for people with disabilities. Up until now, they've struggled to survive on close to the minimum wage for their vital work.
A landmark decision has just granted them a desperately needed pay increase -- but Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu is refusing to fund the them, instead threatening cuts to front-line support services across the state.
Sign the petition now to tell Premier Baillieu to fully fund the pay increase without cutting community services supporting the state's most vulnerable.
THE FAIR WORK DECISION IN THE EQUAL PAY CASE:
Today, the Fair Work Australia full bench handed down a decision to award Social and Community Service (SACS) workers a pay increase of between 19-41 per cent in order to rectify the huge gender pay gap which sees those working in the SACS industry as some of the lowest paid in the country.
This is an historic victory for Australian women and caring professionals in particular. The decision recognises the talent, education and passionate dedication of SACS workers. Perhaps most importantly it respects the lives of those in Australian society who are vulnerable and excluded by saying that they deserve a sustainable and highly skilled workforce to support them to reach their full potential.
While the federal government and state and territory governments including SA, QLD, ACT and WA have all committed to funding the pay increase, whatever it takes, Premier Baillieu has not. Well… he did going into the state election. Then he back-flipped, leaving many Victorians who put faith in his promise feeling betrayed.
Unfortunately, Premier Baillieu has gone out of his way to prevent equal pay. He says that Victoria – the state that lead Australia’s recovery from the GFC - cannot afford to bridge the gender pay gap. It is for this reason that Fair Work Australia have ruled that, rather than the suggested six year phase-in period, pay increases will be phased in over eight years to allow governments such a Victoria extra time to implement the changes.
Premier Baillieu has suggested that being made to fund the gender pay gap means he will have to cut community support services to the Victorians who need them the most. He is saying that we cannot have both equal pay and an excellent community service sector, that we have to choose one or the other. What!?
As you’ve probably worked out on your own, this just isn’t the case. Victoria can afford a fairly paid SACS workforce and continue to provide support services to Victorians who need them. Not only can Victoria do this, but we have to. Fairness demands it. Moreover, funding equal pay is will strengthen services by increasing retention of skilled workers and attracting bright young minds to the SACS profession- the social workers, homelessness support workers, youth workers, refuge workers, community development workers, caseworkers and advocates of the future.
IT'S ABOUT PRIORITIES:
At its core, this is an issue about priorities. Just like most of us, Victoria doesn't have an endless pot of money. Instead, we have to think about what is most important to us and organise our spending accordingly. It is every society’s responsibility to help out their most vulnerable members, to get them back on their feet. This is what SACS workers do, and have done for decades, at a rate of pay that fails to reflect the skill of their work and the value and humanity of those whom they support.
If Premier Baillieu cares about having a fair, hopeful, inclusive Victoria, funding the equal pay increase and maintaining a strong support service sector is exactly what he needs to do!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Please tell Premier Ballieu that you won’t stand for a Victoria that doesn’t take care of its most vulnerable and excluded!
You can do so by signing the petition and getting your friends to do the same!
It is important to me that you understand that rectifying the gender pay gap and maintaining strong, sustainable and skilled community support services are not issues that I will accept compromise on. I want to live in a community that values and ensures fairness and support for its most vulnerable members and those who work with them to help them realise their strengths and be their best. I want to live in a community where my government works hard to make these things happen.
Premier Baillieu, I'm asking you to do better. I'm asking you to publicly commit to funding Equal Pay for SACS workers without cutting services. I also ask you to act on this commitment.
Thank you in advance for prioritising a fair, hopeful and inclusive Victoria.