On Thursday 18 November 2010 the Commonwealth Government made its submission to the ASU’s Equal Pay case before Fair Work Australia. The ASU has a number of serious concerns with the Commonwealth’s submission. Click here to read the ASU’s summary of the Commonwealth submission.
On Thursday, I was one of the thousands who attended the national day of action on equal pay. I’m an ordinary woman struggling to pay the bills on the modest wage I receive as a community development worker, a job I’ve been doing for 25 years.
As I stood on the stage at Sydney’s Town Hall in front of thousands of equal pay supporters yesterday, I reflected on just how significant that moment was. At that moment I was part of history in the making, participating in the biggest national day of action on equal pay since the 1970s. I might be one of many, but together we can’t be silenced or ignored.
I work in a Neighbourhood Centre in the outer suburbs of Sydney. It’s a place where everyone is welcome. The people that live in my community, who come to our centre are often on the ‘outer’. They come to us for all kinds of reasons. On any given day, on top of my planned groups and activities, I deal with people who have been evicted; people who are in crisis; people who are afraid, hurt, and alone. I help them to make things a little bit better.
It’s been a busy few weeks. On top of the general goings on here at the Centre I have put my hand up to be an Equal Pay Ambassador, in an official capacity that is. I have been an Equal Pay Ambassador all my working life – now, I am assuming the official title.
When I was told that I would be officially called an Equal Pay Ambassador I freaked out a bit. The word Ambassador conjures images of statesmen like Alexander Downer and Kim Beazley. I think of them going to formal receptions, wearing ridiculous clothes, and all in all not doing very much that’s very important, most of the time.
Hey, and let’s face it, I am no statesman, or stateswoman for that matter. I am just one of 200,000 undervalued and underpaid community workers. I am one woman of about 180,000 women in the sector. I am one, we are many, and we, ordinary community workers are about to do an extraordinary thing.
Community workers are disability service workers, they are refuge workers, they are youth workers, they are crisis workers, they are social workers, they are counsellors, they are homelessness workers, they, like me, are community development workers.
They are many things but they are no angels.
Community development is my job. It’s my career. I didn’t wake up one morning and think – today I am going to make the world a better place and I will volunteer my whole life to do so. I don’t do it solely because I am passionate about it. It’s a job – it’s what I do to pay the bills. And you know, I do love it – but, as anti-angelic and amazing as it might seem, lots of people love their job but don’t sacrifice their pay because of it. Why should I?
Hi, I’m Maree, I’m a sister, mother, grandmother and wife and a community worker.
I have worked in the community sector for more than 25 years. I have three different tertiary qualifications and I’m working my way through a masters.
I am a community development worker. So what does that mean?
We know that we live in a society which sets up structures which can either include or exclude us. It’s my job to work in that space assisting excluded people to be included and working to make our structures more inclusive. But, that’s a bit complicated and abstract – the reality of the job is very hands-on.
I work in a Neighbourhood Centre. A Neighbourhood Centre is a place where all are welcome – it’s an inclusive space. My Neighbourhood Centre is in the outer suburbs of a big city. The people that live in my community – who come to our centre – are often ‘on the outer’. They come to us for all kinds of reasons and from all walks of life.