Baillieu promises go belly-up for community sector

Posted: May 16, 2012 by katepercy in Melbourne, Social Issues
Tags: , , , ,

by Kate Hansen

It was the 2010 Victorian State elections. Liberal MP Mary Wooldridge stood at the entrance of community agency, Connections in Blackburn, proclaiming how valuable social workers were to the Ballieu party, vowing to fund pay increases for the Community sector should the Victorian LNP win the election.

Baillieu did go on to win that election, but it seems his party has a case of amnesia when it comes to promises the party dished out along the campaign trail.

The Australian Services Union began campaigning for wage increases back in 2010 in a bid to bring wage equality to the sector, known as the ‘Equal Pay Case’. Social workers do some of the hardest work in society, yet their wages reflect an undervalued profession.

After two years of ASU campaigning, Fair Work Australia’s inquiry into the matter found that wage increases for the sector were warranted across the country.

But when it came to the Federal Government’s expectation on State governments to fund the wage increase, Baillieu’s support was nowhere to be found. Baillieu, in fact, conveyed an adamant stance against the inquiry’s findings, and has indicated that his government will not fund the wage increases, despite the promises made. Baillieu is the only Premier in Australia refusing to fund the Equal Pay Case.

Broken promises and empty excuses are nothing new in the world of politics. But for the hard working Community sector of Victoria, this is a broken promise with some significant implications for the future of their industry, and by proxy, the community.

Baillieu’s refusal is an indication of his attitude towards us as social workers, and really towards the Victorian community… “

ASU delegate Kate Zimmer

What is it that he thinks we do? What makes us so undeserving of fair wages?

MP Mary Woolderidge could not be contacted on the matter, neither was the VIC LNP party available for comment.

Jenna Brindley, a second year social worker with Uniting Care, indicates that her career in the industry will probably be short lived.

It’s really high stress work, and we don’t get the rewards that we deserve, I can’t see myself staying in the industry for more than a few years”

When asked what Brindley would say to Baillieu or Woolderidge, she is forhtright

I’d tell them straight…. you lied.

The Community sector is now left wondering where the money will come from to fund the wage increases. Fair Work Australia has mandated that wage increases must occur by November 2012. If the Baillieu government don’t fund the increase in wages, organisations will have to fund the increases themselves – meaning job cuts, program cuts and large deficiencies in service delivery.

“In an industry that is rapidly growing, the impact of shrinking services on the community will equate to terrible consequences for everyone”, states ASU delegate Genevieve McLean.


ASU delegrates marched for ‘Equal Pay’ on 8 June 2011 in downtown Melbourne

  1. mschneiders says:

    I found this story very interesting Kate. I know the increase for the community sector has been welcomed, and needed, as it lags behind the public sector. I had not realised the Victorian government had decided not to uphold this decision by Fair Work Australia. Thanks, Mara

  2. Karisa McCauley says:

    Hi Kate,
    As a resident of NSW I had no idea about this issue – your story was very informative.
    Well done.

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