ACTCOSS and YWCA Canberra call on federal government to mark International Women’s Day with a commitment to equal pay

6 March 2020

Ahead of International Women’s Day, the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and YWCA Canberra are calling on the federal government to commit to equal pay for workers in the community sector.

Almost a decade ago, a landmark decision by the Fair Work Commission found that work performed by those employed in the sector was undervalued, largely due to industry feminisation and the perception that the work was “women’s work”.

The federal government legislated the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) supplementation which has since lifted the wages of workers in the sector. However, the supplementation has not been guaranteed beyond 2021.

Australia’s gender pay gap currently sits at 13.9%. Ensuring the continuation of the ERO supplementation is one of the most effective steps government can take to address the gap.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “As we approach International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, ACTCOSS is dismayed by the inaction in addressing equal pay for community sector workers, nearly 80% of whom are women.

“If the federal government does not commit to renewing this funding, the combined risks of widening the gender pay gap and the impact on service delivery to vulnerable community members will be substantial,” Dr Campbell said.

YWCA Canberra CEO Frances Crimmins said: “We deliver critical services to people in need, families accessing our food pantries to help with the weekly shop, women requiring support after fleeing domestic violence or finding safe housing for older women no longer able to afford rent. These are some of the services YWCA Canberra provide to the community on behalf of the government.

“Our workforce is highly skilled, dedicated and professional. The ERO is intrinsic to recognising the value this work brings to the community in alleviating the effects of poverty and of gender inequality.”

Dr Campbell said: “We have already heard from overstretched services that if this funding is not renewed, job losses and cuts to services will be inevitable, impacting vulnerable community members who rely on our work.

“This is a serious threat to the viability of the sector, and in the lead up to International Women’s Day we’re calling for the federal government to commit to equal pay for workers in the community sector.”

Dr Campbell said that at the time the ERO was introduced, the ACT Government committed to ensuring that the implementation of the ERO would not lead to cuts in ACT Government-funded service delivery.

“We will hold the ACT Government to this promise,” Dr Campbell said.

For more information or comment, please contact Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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