Pay raise ‘critical': community workers

CANBERRA’s community sector organisations will receive a $27 million boost over the next eight years to fund wage rises.

Funding “critical”…Menslink CEO Martin Fisk.

Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the government has made offers of financial support to 34 local community organisations, with 14 already accepting the offers, as part of their support for Fair Work Australia’s equal pay case.

It is expected the employers will receive the support from December 1, with employees due to receive an annual pay rise over a period of around eight years.

One of the organisations that has accepted funding is Menslink, a small charity supporting young men in need.

The charity has just five employees who provide mentoring and counselling services.

Menslink CEO Martin Fisk says the funding is “absolutely critical.”

“Being a low cost charity, our employees are paid at the award rate, and therefore we need this financial support in order to meet our obligation,” he says.

“The ACT government is fully funding the pay rises that are coming to staff and it’s a bit of a Christmas present for our really hard working staff.”

Martin says the charity would have had to make cuts without the extra support.

“I think its fair to say that community sector workers work for the community, not their back pocket, but that said, the cost of living is increasing and they really deserve to be paid as much as we can help them,” he says.

“They need to be paid better than they are and at the end of the day, that helps all our community.

“Each of our young men costs around $5,000 a year, thanks to our mentoring program. The cost to the community of a heavy drug user, or a career criminal, is between one and two million dollars. It doesn’t take Einstein to work out the return on investments there. So this makes good business sense for the community.”

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