Page 1708 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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Community sector—reforms

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Community Services. Minister, can you provide the Assembly with an update on the progress the government is making under the community sector reform program?

MS BERRY: Thank you for the question, Ms Porter. I am happy to talk about the reforms the ACT government is making in the community sector and what this means for standing up for and supporting the vulnerable, the marginalised and the excluded in our community. It means investing in people who provide vital services to do this work. So much work is being done by both the government and workers and by the community organisations we partner with to deliver vital community services. Just today we are hosting a round of 40 of these workers at a community practice in Belconnen to help them with their work with families who are doing it tough.

The community sector is a vital partner in achieving real fairness, and the community sector reform program is about supporting the sector through the long term. In this period of major change for the human services sector, brought on by multiple factors, the program is working collaboratively to support a community services system though elements such as support for employers, as part of the government’s ongoing commitment to equal pay for community sector workers. The ACT government recognises that having community sector workers who are valued and well paid is an important and key part of providing supports through the community services sector. Reductions in red tape, assistance for organisations to build skills and capability, creating new opportunities for collaboration and best practice—all of these elements are geared to support our community sector organisations and workers in planning for a sustainable future.

I am pleased to say the government is making progress against the goals of the reform program, resulting in savings for both the government and the sector, but, most importantly, better outcomes for the people of Canberra. Whether it is helping people out of homelessness and providing the supports that they need to keep a roof over their heads or strengthening vulnerable families so that kids can stay with their parents in safe and happy homes, ensuring these services are here for the long term is this government’s priority.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, how does this program benefit Canberra’s community sector workforce of more than 2,500 workers?

MS BERRY: A key piece of the work of the community sector reform is the additional payments to meet the Fair Work Commission’s 2012 equal remuneration order or equal pay case. As a result of this landmark equity decision, salaries under the social, community, home care and disability services award are increasing each year out to 2020. The ACT government is supporting this with payments to the sector.

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