Family Relationship Services Struggle to Compete
Tuesday, 29th January 2008 at 2:55 pm
Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA), the peak national body for the family relationships sector, is calling for increased Federal Government investment to help community organisations match the salaries paid in the public and private sector.
The FRSA has made a Federal Budget submission calling for an additional $30 million.
FRSA’s Executive Director Sam Page says currently family relationship services are struggling to compete for staff at a time when services are experiencing record levels of demand.
Page says member organisations estimate that the gap in salaries for qualified practitioners (including qualified and experienced counsellors, educators and family dispute resolution practitioners) between the community sector and the public/private sector is between $15,000 and $30,000 per annum for each full time equivalent position.
The FRSA’s submission says community run Family relationship Centres are "running on the smell of an oily rag", often relying on the enthusiasm and passion of the dedicated professionals, who work to support and assist Australians, to have respectful family relationships.
It says effective support during significant transitions, such as separation, can substantially reduce conflict and increase parental cooperation focused on the needs of children, whilst building family resilience and strengthening relationships.
Sam Page says the recruitment of staff threatens the capacity of the sector to continue to deliver for government, and communities more broadly.
By example he says one practitioner was offered a position in government at a salary more than double the hourly rate the FRSA can afford to pay. Another qualified practitioner sought government employment as they were unable to manage the drop in salary at over $25,000 per annum, due to family reasons.
Christine Hodge, Director Centacare Catholic Family and Community Services says in addition, superannuation rates for practitioners in the community based services are 42 per cent less than that of their counterparts in the public sector.
FRSA’s Federal Budget submission outlines the issues currently faced in the family relationship sector and recommendations to address these.
It says that further investment in the sector is not only warranted, but is an imperative, if all Australian children regardless of their family makeup are to have equal chance of socioeconomic prosperity and positive health outcomes.
The Attorney General Robert McClelland announced recently that 25 new Family Relationship Centres would open in 2008 and funding negotiations were about to begin.
However, FRSA spokesperson says the new centres will have the capacity and the knowledge but won’t work if they can’t attract the staff to work in them.
To obtain a copy of the FRSA’s Federal Budget submission, send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org