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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3842 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

upgraded, in contrast with what exists in the current Griffin Centre. There are extra dollars going in there.

The previous government also looked at things like social capital-and we funded projects. You can be disparaging of those projects if you wish. However, growing out of the poverty review and the poverty task force work, in our last budget we were certainly attempting to address the area of early intervention. We were building greater capacity to support these groups.

With all that in mind, the opposition will support the motion. We look forward to what happens in the life of this government.

MS DUNDAS (4.20): The ACT Democrats support this motion and thank Ms Tucker for bringing to the attention of the Assembly today the plight of workers in the community sector. Today is undoubtedly a day when the Assembly is throwing its support behind exploited workers-although, Ms Tucker, I have greater confidence that something will come out of Ms Gallagher's motion earlier today, rather than this one.

It is true that workers in the field of social and community services have been through a long campaign for recognition of the important work they do and the low wages they are paid for doing it.

Workers employed under the New South Wales Social and Community Services Award were victorious recently. They can expect a 3 per cent pay rise from the first pay period after 28 November. The increase flows on from increases gained by Australian Services Union members when the award was handed down last November. Further, I note that the ASU is still pursuing the $18 a week state wage claim adjustment through the courts, with the next hearing scheduled for Friday, 6 December. The union's pursuit of the $18 increase has the support of the Catholic Church in Australia.

The minister discussed the money the government has allocated to community groups to help meet the increases in the SACS awards. I hope they also recognise problems in the sector at the moment with the new award system and its broader band structure, which means that some people are entering this work force at lower levels and becoming stuck in bands, with little hope of advancement.

The government should support organisations to work with the more favourable wages provided under the award system, so that the workers who do so much for our community are remunerated at higher rates. The ALP went to the last election with a policy platform which included to:

Ensure that the community service providers are fully informed and supported through appropriate education and training and with award conditions to ensure the delivery of quality services.

Ensure a strong community sector of providers and customers as this will result in an informed and satisfied community.

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