The ASU has a proud history of fighting to win. 

History of the Community and Disability Division


The Australian Social Welfare Union, one of the predecessor unions of the ASU, was formed in 1976 and immediately began campaigning for an Award for social and community sector workers nationally.

The case went all the way to the High Court and made headlines for changing the face of Australian law. This case paved the way for the community sector (and many other human services) to be recognised as “industries” that could have Awards made, overturning decades of precedent.

ASU Life Member Fran Hayes was instrumental as the first organiser for the ASWU, and has written a book about the campaign for the CYSS Award in 1977-1985, called Struggle, Hope and Victory.

You can read Struggle, Hope and Victory by Fran Hayes here. 


Equal Pay

"Today is a day in a generation – a day for all women to celebrate" Former ASU Secretary Sally McManus

ASU members campaigned for Equal Pay for years. We rallied, we danced, we had flash mobs, we spoke to the media and met with politicians. Union members made a lot of noise because we needed to make a difference.

We love the work we do, but we deserve to be paid a fair amount.

Lots of people told us that we were fighting for the impossible. But on February 1, 2012 we won.

The ASU and the Gillard Government had reached an agreement and on February 1, now known as Equal Pay Day, the Fair Work Commission awarded all ASU members equal pay.

The case and campaign has resulted in real wage increases of between 23% – 45% over eight years.

On 1 December 2012 all NSW and ACT SACS workers began receiving their first ASU Equal Pay increase. This was the first of eight equal pay increases coming to workers because of the ASU's successful Equal Pay case and campaign.

Former ASU Secretary Sally McManus said on February 1, 2012 that “today is a day in a generation – a day for all women to celebrate”.

The ASU’s Equal Pay campaign was a historic victory won by active, strong and united members.