As Minister for Community Services, I am very proud to be part of a Government that is demonstrating its support for this social and community services sector and the vital role it plays in working with Australia’s most vulnerable.
This Government has dedicated additional Commonwealth funding of more than $2.1 billion to pay its share of the wage increase granted by Fair Work Australia on 1 February 2012.
Fair Work Australia’s historic decision to grant significant pay increases to certain workers in the social and community services (SACS) and crisis assistance and supported housing classifications (CASH), provides increases of between 23 and 45 per cent to certain SACS and CASH workers.
In November last year, Prime Minister Gillard committed the Government to pay its share of the increases to providers delivering Commonwealth-funded programs and to Commonwealth-State agreements that cover eligible workers on the SACS Modern Award.
Once Fair Work Australia has finalised the Equal Remuneration Order, I will be in a position to provide more detailed information about funding supplementation to organisations.
I will be working closely with the sector to advise organisations on what the Equal Remuneration Order means, how it will be phased in and how the Australian Government will provide extra funding to the sector. I have already held roundtable meetings with representatives from organisations in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to discuss the Government’s funding supplementation. I will also be holding roundtable meetings in Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and Hobart.
States and Territories have also committed to provide funding for their social and community services programs. I encourage organisations funded through the States and Territories to speak to their relevant contact person if they have any questions about the funding arrangements they have with them.
The Government is also working closely with the sector in Queensland to assist organisations identify their obligations and entitlements. The Queensland office of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has been phoning employers to assess whether they are subject to, and have a back pay obligation, under the Queensland Regulation. The assessments will also determine whether the organisation is eligible for back pay funding supplementation, to which the Government has committed approximately $30 million.
This message is the first of a number of updates I will provide to you about the SACS case and how the Government will provide its funding supplementation to affected organisations.
I look forward to continue working with you and the Community Services sector as we progress through the supplementation process.