Why we need to change the Government

"We have had a decade of cuts and destruction under the current Coalition Government and now is our chance to stop the damage."

This special guest article by ASU Secretary Natalie Lang is included in the election edition of ASU College Journal. Read the whole Journal here.

We have had a decade of cuts and destruction under the current Coalition Government and now is our chance to stop the damage.

Right now ASU members’ priorities are front and centre of the election debate:

  • Cost of living
  • Pay rises
  • Secure jobs
  • The role of a strong public sector and ending outsourcing and privatisation
  • Our rights to organise and act together to get a better deal at work
  • Ending violence against women
  • Winning paid DV leave for all workers – so your right to safety is not dependent on who your employer is
  • Long term, secure and proper funding of community services
  • The importance of advocacy in the community sector
  • Access to training and career paths
  • Fixing the National Disability Insurance Scheme to ensure you are paid properly, have a secure job and stop cuts averaging $2,700 to the supports of every NDIS participant
  • Delivering Portable entitlements for insecure workers so you aren’t working for free to deliver essential services on behalf of the government.
  • Closing the gender pay gap
  • Strengthening Medicare
  • Taking action on climate change
  • Delivering a stronger public education system
  • Fixing the crisis in aged care services and ensuring all older Australians have a decent life and receive the care they need and deserve
  • Ensuring that we all have access to affordable, high-quality childcare and early childhood education.
  • Ending the housing crisis
  • So, let us take a closer look at some of these key issues that are important to ASU members.

On Cost of living:

Just this month interest rates have increased by 0.25%. Annual inflation is tracking at 5.1% and is tipped to reach 6% this year

In 2021, 

  • Petrol has increased by 32.3%
  • Housing has increased by 21.7%
  • Transport has increased by 12.5%
  • Beef has increased by 8%
  • Childcare has increased by 6.5%
  • Vegetables have increased by 6%
  • Medical costs have increased by 4.2%

The only thing that has not increased is wages. This means that our weekly pay has not kept pace with the rising cost of living. We need a government that supports measures to fix the cost of living and increase wages. 

The Coalition does not support wage increases.

The Labor Opposition does support wage increases and has a plan to reduce costs of essentials like housing and childcare.

On Secure Jobs:

Right now, more than 40% of workers are in insecure work. And 1 in 3 community and disability workers intend on leaving their job because they do not have certainty about their pay or hours.

Workers are often on rolling fixed term contracts. Short term funding and competitive tendering in community and disability services means workers frequently move jobs, still delivering essential services to vulnerable community members on behalf of the government, but losing their accrued entitlements, like long service leave, annual leave, and sick leave.

Other workers have portable entitlements that rest with them when they move jobs. Nurses, paramedics, teachers, police officer, and public servants all have portable entitlements, but not community and disability workers.

Community and disability workers continue to be insecure in their employment. They need and deserve secure jobs which can be delivered by introducing portable entitlements in our sector. 

The Coalition Government has ruled out portable entitlements. The Coalition ministers have told us they do not support long term community sector funding. They have used competitive tendering for community services and will not deliver a price floor. They have no plan to deliver secure jobs in our sector.

The Labor Opposition on the other hand is committed to minimum 6-year funding contracts. Their leader Anthony Albanese has said they will make it a funding requirement to deliver secure jobs. They have said they will explore portable entitlements for insecure workers, like workers in the NDIS and community sector.

On violence against women and paid DV leave:

One in three women experience sexual or family violence in Australia. During the pandemic practitioners reported significant increases in instances of domestic violence. Increased funding to women’s services, more skilled and qualified workers are desperately needed. Paid Domestic Violence leave does save lives and is essential to supporting women to leave violence and live safely in the community – it was even a recommendation of the National Women’s Safety Summit last year. 

The current Coalition Federal Government is the only government in Australia that doesn’t support paid domestic violence leave as a universal entitlement for all workers. On top of this the Coalition has foreshadowed in their recent budget major cuts to funding of domestic violence services in 3 years’ time.

In contrast, the Labor Party has said it will legislate for 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave for all workers and will deliver 500 additional skilled and qualified community workers for our sector.

On Fixing the NDIS:

Under the Coalition Government NDIS packages have been cut, by an average of $2700 per person in the last year alone, and the Government has spent $28million in just six months, fighting people with disability in court to stop them getting the supports that they need.

In contrast, the Labor Opposition has said it will deliver training and career paths for workers in the NDIS. It will stop the unfair NDIS cuts. Labor also supports portable entitlements, secure jobs, and better pay for NDIS workers. They have committed to putting people with disability back at the centre of the NDIS and they have committed to doubling the funding for disability advocacy. Indeed, they are committed to valuing advocacy across the community services sector.

With so much at stake – make sure your vote counts.

After years of campaigning, in your workplaces, across your employers and industries and in your communities, right now ASU members’ key priorities are up for grabs:

  • Secure jobs
  • Pay rises
  • Easing the cost of living
  • Long term secure funding in the community sector
  • Training and career paths
  • Paid domestic violence leave for all workers
  • We have a Coalition Government that has had a decade in power to fix these issues, and has simply delivered cuts, destruction, cost of living that is spiraling out of control accompanied by stagnant wages.

The Labor Opposition has outlined its priorities to ease cost of living, ensure workers get a real pay rise, legislate paid family violence leave for all workers, deliver long term community sector funding, training, career paths and portable entitlements for NDIS workers, end the age care crisis, make childcare cheaper.

But this can only happen if we change the government.

If you’re concerned about secure jobs – you need to change the government.

If you need a pay rise – you need to change the government.

If you want to ensure every worker has the right to paid domestic violence leave – you need to change the government.

If you want to see training, career paths and the NDIS being the best it can be – you need to change the government.

If you want to save our community services – you need to change the government.

If you have a loved one in aged care, and want to fix the crisis in aged care – you need to change the government.

If you have children in childcare, or at school - you need to change the government.

If you want to protect and strengthen Medicare - you need to change the government.

If you’re worried about the cost of living – you need to change the government.

Don’t wake up on Sunday May 22nd with any regrets. Make your vote count and ensure that you talk to your friends, family and colleagues about how important this election is.

We are union, and together we are mighty. We can make our members’ working lives better and deliver on our members’ campaign priorities together.

Natalie is the Branch Secretary of the Australian Services Union (NSW & ACT Services Branch). 

Natalie has worked with union members in the Water, Transport, Airlines, IT, Private Sector and Social, Community, and Disability services industries for over 15 years. 

Natalie organised workers in the ASU’s historic equal pay campaign which achieved wage increases of between 23% and 45% for social, community and disability workers. 

Natalie has led the union movement campaign for universal paid domestic violence leave. 

Natalie has a degree in Social Sciences majoring in Employment Relations from the University of Western Sydney. Natalie lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two kids and is a very proud Sydney Swans supporter.