Perfect Storm Threatens NFP Sector
Thursday, 31st March 2011 at 1:08 pm
|Greens Senator Rachel Siewert alongside Shadow Minister for Families, Housing and Human Services Kevin Andrews at the ACOSS National Conference. Photo: Ryan Witcombe|
Workers in the social and community services sector will be lost to a ‘perfect storm’ of coinciding threats unless the Gillard Government acts on reform promises, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has told the National ACOSS Conference in Melbourne.
Senator Siewert says the sector is seeing a series of significant threats to the sustainability of social services all coming at once.
She says the Rudd and Gillard Governments have continued to promise much needed reforms for the Not for Profit sector, but so far their much-vaunted Compact with the sector has failed to deliver anything by way of practical reforms to address the crisis facing the sector.
Senator Siewert the threats to social services include:
- The Social and Community Sector Workers pay equity case before Fair Work Australia, which has received no indication that Government will deliver a matching funding boost to services. She says everyone agrees a rise in wages is needed, but the sector is unable to support it without an increase in resources.
- The introduction of the Increased Super Guarantee provision – again with no promise there will be matching funds
- The increased cost of delivering services amidst increases in power, water, rent and insurance costs
- The struggle to find workers, a situation Senator Siewert says will only grow worse as the population ages, demands on services increase and the value of community sector wages continues to erode. She says in areas of Western Australia and Queensland, the Not for Profit sector – and in particular the aged care industry – is losing staff to the mining industry. She asks how can the sector hope to hold onto underpaid staff when they can get a job earning $80,000 as a cleaner in a mining town?
Siewert says the overburden of inappropriate and contradictory funding and reporting requirements continues to grow, as government departments unilaterally impose contract conditions on social services that would not be tolerated in a commercial market or in other government service procurement contracts.
She says it is high time the government delivered reforms for the sector, rather than continuing to impose on them.
She says that when government departments think about reform, they are thinking about reforms done by them to the sector, not about reforming their own practices in relation to how they interact with the sector.
Siewert told the Conference that the sector needs long term, sustainable funding methods. She says if workers are unsure whether they will be employed come July 1st, then they will not be focused on their job.