The ACT Council of Social service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the Fair Work Commission’s announcement of a 5.2% increase to national minimum wage and 4.6% increase to modern award minimum wages.
This approach recognises the challenges that low income workers are facing with high inflation and rapidly rising cost of living.
ACTCOSS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Employees in the ACT community services sector are some of the lowest paid workers in the Territory. It is a sector that is dominated by women and amongst our hard working, committed and dedicated workforce, people from migrant and refugee backgrounds, people with disability and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented.
“The ACT is facing rapidly increasing costs. The rising cost of living impacts the ACT’s community sector in a variety of ways. Rising costs compound the challenges faced by tens of thousands of Canberrans who are already struggling to pay for the basics. Individuals and families are unable to afford the cost of rent, utilities, food, transport, education and healthcare.
“We are already seeing growing deprivation among clients and increased demand for our services. Price rises in areas including utilities, transportation fuel, food and provision and insurances also mean that it is costing more to deliver the same community services.
“Federal and ACT government funding for the community services must be increased in line with wage increases and rising costs of delivering services to enable the sector to meet growing demand.
“Today, Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Families and Community Services, reached out to the ACT community service sector to express her commitment to working with ACTCOSS and community organisations to meet these challenges.
“We welcome this engagement and look forward to collaborating with the ACT Government to ensure our organisations, staff and the people we work with are properly supported.”
Dr Campbell continued: “Community sector workers have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response and they deserve salaries that reflect their contribution to the community and that enable them to live in Canberra with dignity and security.
“Research by the Everybody’s Home campaign shows that high rents in the ACT are pushing essential community sector workers into serious financial stress. Essential community sector workers need to use between one third and two-thirds of a normal week’s wages to rent an apartment in most Canberra suburbs. To rent in the inner North or South, an essential community sector worker needs to sacrifice more than two thirds of a full working week’s income to rent an apartment.”
“Women make up more nearly 80% of the community sector workforce. Increases in minimum and award wages are also an important step towards reducing the pay gap between men and women,” Dr Campbell concluded.
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200