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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2647 ..

In my ministerial statement this morning, I particularly acknowledged the non-government partners who have worked with us in the response to the quarantine requirements at Condamine Court and Ainslie Village. I thanked at that time the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA), ACT Shelter, Directions Health Services, Health Care Consumers Association, Community Services #1, Community Options, Argyle Housing, CatholicCare and other health, housing and homelessness sector organisations.

Of course, as always happens when you make a list, I did neglect to include Hepatitis ACT on that list. I was reminded of that by Mr Davis’s comments and I therefore particularly acknowledge that Hepatitis ACT, as a trusted organisation for tenants and residents, has been a vital partner in this response.

This, of course, is an opportunity to bring the Assembly’s attention to some of the additional support that the government has provided to the sector, support that is provided in recognition of the vital and increased role of non-government organisations in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community during this pandemic. This includes significant new measures announced today that will be included in the 2021-22 ACT budget. I am pleased that Mr Davis’s fortuitously timed motion provides an opportunity to outline these measures in greater detail, as Ms Davidson has already done in some respect.

The strong partnership between the government community sector underlines our shared objective to support the diverse needs of Canberrans and combat disadvantage in all its forms. Together, ACT Health and the Community Services Directorate manage approximately $150 million in recurrent annual funding for health and community services delivered by non-government partners. This includes more than 250 services delivered by more than 120 organisations.

Among the measures in the upcoming 2021-22 budget announced today is an increase to the base funding for community organisations. This increase will help organisations meet the higher wages costs, following the recent Fair Work Commission decision to increase the national minimum wage and award wages by 2.5 per cent. Of course, this is a decision that ACT Labor warmly welcomes. It builds on the historic equal remuneration order decision that recognised that the largely female community sector workforce was underpaid relative to others for the work that it did.

We have always supported ensuring that community sector workers are paid well; and the increase in the indexation will pay fairly. I do not think that anyone would actually argue that community sector workers are paid well, unfortunately. The increase in funding that we are providing will ensure that community sector organisations can pay these wage rises without reducing the services that they provide to the community. This additional funding is calculated as an increase to the wage price index component of the current community sector indexation formula. Providing this funding should give confidence and certainty to our partner organisations and will help to ensure that we are able to retain a stable, skilled, community sector workforce here in the ACT.

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