Transcript by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Remarks to Social and Community Service Workers

Joint Transcript with:
Prime Minister, Minister for Community Services and the Status of Women


MINISTER COLLINS: Thank you to everyone for coming in today. It’s great to have obviously the Prime Minister, Minister Shorten, Minister Macklin and I understand Minister Plibersek who are also dropping in to say hello.

It is obviously a great day for gender in terms of closing the gender pay gap. We do know that in Australia the gender pay gap is still at around 17 per cent.

And of course this equal pay decision is momentous and it’s great to be part of a Government that is actually legislating to ensure that over the eight years that we will deliver on our commitment of almost $3 billion for this equal pay case.

And working across the Government of course there have been many people involved, many agencies, many ministers involved in getting us to this point. And so it’s been great to work, particularly with all of you in getting us to this point, the sector, and of course the union and the delegates have all been working together to get to this point with the Government.

And it’s a great day to see that legislation introduced. I’m very pleased that that’s happened today.

LINDA WHITE, ASU: This is a fantastic day. It has been a couple of fantastic years.

The support we received from the Prime Minister and the Ministers has been absolutely fantastic, and from the Government.

This is an unprecedented thing that you are doing for us today to put this legislation through to guarantee this money.

Whatever happens in the future is something that the sector has been asking for and we are just so pleased about this.

It’s been a very long journey. Many of us have been there from the start. But this has been absolutely fantastic and this is a red letter day.

PRIME MINISTER: Can I join Minister Collins in saying we’re really pleased that we’ve got to this stage, and we’ve done it together.

And it’s been good work to do together because it’s really been about valuing women, predominately women – some men – predominately women who work in our social and community and services sector.

The sector is represented here today. People working in disability, people working in homelessness, people working in some of the hardest areas, the most demanding work, and their work’s been historically under-valued because it’s work performed by women. And it’s just assumed that caring work is somehow innate, and therefore you don’t have to value it and you don’t need to treat the skills as professional.

This decision and the work we’ve done together really turns all of that on its head. I’m really conscious of how long a journey it has been.

We needed to get rid of WorkChoices, we needed to change the law, the law needed to come into operation, you had to take the case, we ultimately end up making an agreement with you about how the case should conclude and how the money should work. We then had to work to find the money.

And now we’ve got the legislation in the Parliament to lock it away so it is there to meet the needs flowing from the case and to ensure that pay is topped up and that we do get rid of that gender pay gap in this sector where it’s been so pronounced.

Congratulations to all of you who have been involved in such a long running campaign. All of the ministers right across the board have worked very hard. I hope Tanya has the opportunity to pop through.

The other person we should be thanking who is not here today is Minister Wong, Penny Wong, who had the less than glamorous task of hunkering over all the budget and the figures to get it done.

But everybody’s played their part. Bill from the IR perspective. Julie of course now with our Status of Women hat. Jenny because much of what her department does ends up being the interface between government and this sector. Tanya equally in health, working with this sector. And of course Penny working so hard on the money. So it’s been a great team effort all round.