Page 1709 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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Members may remember that in 2012 the ACT government was one of the first jurisdictions to announce its support for the equal pay case, something we are immensely proud of. Our longstanding support goes back to getting behind the claim of the Australian Services Union when the case was before Fair Work Australia. We were the only government which can make that claim.

The pay increases happening now are closing the pay gap that exists in the sector, and our support for this equal pay case will total some $60 million over the transition period. The current plan for this year alone has seen the provision of $2.1 million in support to community organisations, with a further $3.4 million projected for 2015-16.

I am relieved to note that, at least on this commitment, the commonwealth government looks like it will be honouring its side of the deal. Fair wages to vulnerable organisations are crucial to the sustainability of the community services in our city and we will continue to support these key priorities.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how are community organisations being supported in the changing environment of the human services sector?

MS BERRY: The human and community services industry is undergoing significant change, and our government is working to support it through these challenges as they emerge. In addition to support for wage rises, a number of organisations are able to access transition support for the shift to client-centred funding in the NDIS. However, the government’s cuts to grant funding through the Department of Social Services, the push towards more competitive funding arrangements and also the local service demand being driven through ongoing cuts to public service jobs are adding to the pressure on local organisations.

The government’s reform program is supporting individual community sector organisations to be as agile and as resilient as possible. The program, delivered together with the community sector leaders, has led capability development and practical support to improve the governance, financial management and planning ability of organisations in the sector. So far, 300 or so leaders across 60 organisations have participated in some way in the sector development initiative. Upcoming activities will provide professional support to organisations seeking to improve their capacity to collaborate effectively with peer organisations across the community services system.

It is vitally important to support organisations in the changing environment of the human services sector, not just set them against each other, because in the end we need the best possible community sector to provide the best possible community services.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, how does the reform program reduce red tape for community sector organisations?

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