Page 1100 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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That, of course, assumes people are full time. The report continues:

The definition of the family must also change to include not just the nuclear variety but a 21-year-old with a dog …

It also makes the point that one of the biggest issues for workers is fitting in those things that they have been told to fit in, like doing enough exercise to overcome the problems of ill health. At the moment that is very difficult for some. We must take care, however, that any flexible arrangements are negotiated, with the employees’ needs and situation in mind, and ensure that flexible arrangements do not become another means of manipulating employees to fit employers’ convenience.

I am particularly pleased to be invited by this motion to support appropriate remuneration for work performed. I hope that the government, in moving the motion, is committing itself to take action to correct the disparity that exists between the employment conditions of the community sector and government workers. We know the community sector workers in the ACT receive approximately one-third less remuneration than their counterparts in government. They get just over half the superannuation of ACT government employees, fewer days long service leave and more limited training opportunities. They mostly work with old equipment and in facilities in need of maintenance or updating.

The remuneration and conditions of community sector workers depend largely on the quantum of funding and support provided by governments, both ACT and federal, to the sector through their funding agreements. Proper pay and conditions for staff rely on governments being prepared to pay appropriately for the services they ask or expect community organisations to provide.

The ACT government has recently agreed to appoint a task force to investigate and make recommendations in relation to industrial matters affecting the community sector. While this is a good start, it has been a long time in coming for a sector that is now struggling to attract and keep high-quality staff through a failure to offer competitive pay and conditions. We know now that some services, particularly those providing support and care for the most vulnerable members of our community, are suffering ongoing staff shortages, which are negatively impacting on the quality of care they are able to provide.

I urge the ACT government to put its money where its mouth is in relation to appropriate remuneration to the ACT community sector and to take action that recognises the value to the Canberra community—

Mr Mulcahy: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: this seems to be anticipating debate on a bill related to long service leave portability for the community sector. Are we drifting into this matter? I thought this was on the Office of the Employment Advocate and related matters.

DR FOSKEY: That is just one very minor part.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Dr Foskey, could you just resume your seat. Are you taking a point of order there, Mr Mulcahy?

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