Minimum wage increase welcome, more government action needed

The Fair Work Commission’s decision to increase minimum wages by 3.75% is much-needed recognition that people on low and modest incomes continue to experience financial stress. We also welcome the Commission’s decision to re-assess wages for people working in community services and other sectors traditionally dominated by women.

ACOSS Chief Executive Officer, Cassandra Goldie said:

“The Fair Work Commission’s decision today is a positive step towards improving the lives of low-paid workers as living costs continue to rise. But the government needs to do more to tackle the causes of inflation and to lift income supports to help people with the least.

“We know that 38% of people in households in poverty rely on wages as their main source of income. In addition to lifting their incomes, our government needs to address the drivers of inflation, including skyrocketing rents and persistently high energy costs.

“It must also support people on the lowest incomes by lifting the shamefully low rate of Jobseeker, Youth Allowance and related payments from $55 per day to at least $80 a day.

“Further RBA interest rate rises are not the answer and will only increase unemployment further. There are already 75,000 more people unemployed due to the interest rate hikes previously announced.

“We welcome the Commission’s announcement to examine and address gender undervaluation, including a focus on early childhood education and care workers, disability home care workers as well as other social and community services workers.

“People working in community services have been under immense pressure in recent years. They are nearing burnout from overwork and inadequate pay, and are consider leaving the profession altogether despite their passion for the mission and the work. Between 75-80% of the care and community sector workforce are women. It is positive that the Commission will bring its expertise to this ongoing systemic challenge.”

Key asks:

  • Raise the rate of Jobseeker, Youth Allowance and related payments from $55 per day to at least $80 a day to support those on the lowest incomes experiencing the worst financial distress
  • Work with state and territory governments to accelerate and scale up investments in home energy upgrades for low-income housing to permanently lower the cost of energy bills
  • Substantially boost social housing investment to meet unmet social housing need within a decade and reduce the pressure on the private rental market
  • Work with states and territory governments to implement stronger regulation of the private rental market and protections for renters, including protection against exorbitant rent increases.