ACOSS fears $550M community services funding cut will hurt vulnerable people
16 December 2019 at 4:36 pm
Community groups are urging the government to protect equal pay funding for the caring sector
Some of Australia’s most vulnerable people are facing “devastating” cuts to services unless the federal government commits to continuing funding worth more than $500 million a year, community groups say.
Since 2012, the federal government has provided extra funding to most Commonwealth-funded organisations to help cover higher wages resulting from a 2012 Fair Work Commission decision.
This ruling – which addressed the gendered undervaluation of work in the female-dominated community services sector – saw wages rise by up to 45 per cent over eight years.
Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) CEO Cassandra Goldie said without an ongoing budget commitment, this extra federal government funding of around $550 million will cease from July 2021.
“This funding is vital to ensure that organisations funded by the Commonwealth can deliver the services that communities, families and individuals rely on,” Goldie said.
“It ensures that organisations can deliver quality services to people, families and communities across the country, including some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.”
Homelessness services, services to families and children, and domestic violence services are among those affected by the potential funding cut.
Goldie said without this funding, there would be devastating cuts to services used by some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
She also noted this would be a backwards step in Australia’s fight to close the gender pay gap.
“Cutting this funding would mean that the gains in gender equality achieved as a result of the 2012 equal pay case would be put at great risk, impacting the national gender pay gap,” she said.
“We call on the Commonwealth government to address this issue of fair pay and gender equality and continue to fund the community services that we all rely on.”
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told Nine newspapers she had recently met with sector representatives to discuss the implications of the funding cut.
“This is an ongoing conversation and to suggest that the government has made a decision to withdraw funding at the expense of quality services and fair pay is completely disingenuous,” Ruston said.
“I made a commitment to work with the sector on how we can together best ensure the long-term sustainability of our social services system in a way that delivers real and long-lasting benefits for those who need its support.”