Take Survey
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
NEWS  |  Communities, Politics, Volunteering

Volunteers and the Equal Pay Claim


Friday, 24th June 2011 at 11:09 am
Staff Reporter
Australia’s informal, unpaid or non-professional modes of care work should not be forgotten in the current equal pay claim for community workers.

Friday, 24th June 2011
at 11:09 am
Staff Reporter


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Volunteers and the Equal Pay Claim
Friday, 24th June 2011 at 11:09 am

Australia’s informal, unpaid or non-professional modes of care work should not be forgotten in the current equal pay claim for community workers.

The call comes in a new public policy paper published by the Brotherhood of St Laurence called Valuing Care in Australia- Achieving pay equity in the social and community services sector by James Allebone.

Social and community services (SACS) workers are currently fighting for a substantial increase in their award wages.

The Equal Remuneration Case before Fair Work Australia (FWA) is an historic one which seeks to rectify decades of undervaluation. The pay gap between SACS workers and comparable workers in government employment has recently been acknowledged by FWA (2011); however, an equal remuneration order is yet to be handed down.

Allebone says it will be argued that the low pay endemic to the SACS sector is primarily the result of two factors: the sector’s link to its volunteer past, and its highly feminised character, of which only the latter has been thoroughly considered in the present pay equity case.

Allebone’s paper outlines the relationship between volunteerism and gender pay inequity in the SACS sector, and details the evolution of the current pay equity case.

The paper says that apart from the inherent value of informal care work to individuals, families and communities, in 2010 unpaid care workers undertook some 1.32 billion hours of unpaid care work; and the total replacement cost of unpaid informal care in Australia is estimated to be $40.9 billion per annum—equivalent to 3.2 per cent of GDP (Access Economics & Carers Australia 2010).

Allebone contends that in pursuing pay equity for remunerated care workers, it is important not to lose sight of the vital, but often hidden, contribution of informal care workers both to society and the economy.

Beyond achieving pay equity, Allebone says that the SACS wage case raises broader questions about the efficacy of the prevailing model of welfare provision in Australia.

For example, the application of national competition policy to, and the privatisation of, social services during the mid 1990s has had a range of detrimental effects. As well as driving down wages, the competitive model has discouraged service providers from sharing knowledge about best practice and has pushed out smaller Not for Profit organisations. Further, in order to retain government funding, providers must engage with a complex system laden with onerous compliance and reporting obligations which drain the time workers spend assisting clients. Allebone says the fact that the government ultimately pays for the vast majority of the costs of service delivery seriously calls into question the privatised, competitive model of welfare.

In light of the inefficiencies and complexities of the competitive model, the widening gender equity gap, the continuing growth of the care sector, the nation’s ageing population, SACS employers’ difficulty in attracting and retaining quality workers, and the professionalisation of care work, it is timely to re-engage in dialogue around the successful aspects of the Nordic ‘care state’ model.

He says the ‘social investment’ and ‘social inclusion’ agendas in Australia provide developing frameworks on which an Australian ‘care regime’ could be built. While different contexts preclude wholesale policy transfer, the Nordic states provide inspiration for future directions in Australia’s journey towards a more inclusive, equal, caring society.

The paper can be downloaded at http://www.bsl.org.au/pdfs/Allebone_Valuing_care_achieving_pay_equity_2011.pdf

Follow Pro Bono Australia’s coverage of the equal wage case here. 




Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Volunteering Victoria AGM and Panel Discussion

Contributor

Tuesday, 18th September 2018 at 7:30 am

Recruiting Online Volunteers to Champion Your Cause

Ellie Nikakis

Thursday, 16th August 2018 at 7:30 am

Support Services At The Core of Volunteering

Wendy Williams

Friday, 22nd June 2018 at 6:08 pm

Why Rural Australia is Facing a Volunteer Crisis

Contributor

Wednesday, 16th May 2018 at 5:34 pm

POPULAR

Report Uncovers Shocking Abuse and Neglect of Adults With Disability

Luke Michael

Monday, 5th November 2018 at 5:29 pm

Google Awards Millions to Groups Harnessing Technology For Change

Maggie Coggan

Friday, 2nd November 2018 at 5:50 pm

White Ribbon CEO Puts Hasty Departure Down to Culture Clash

Maggie Coggan

Monday, 12th November 2018 at 5:49 pm

Government Backtracks on Cuts to Food Relief Charity

Maggie Coggan

Monday, 12th November 2018 at 5:42 pm

Take Survey
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!