A Warrawong community worker has welcomed equal pay increases for 30,000 low-paid social, community and disability workers, introduced on December 1.
NSW workers in this sector have received their first equal pay increase, of between 23per cent and 45per cent over the next eight years.
The federal and NSW governments committed to funding the pay rises after a Fair Work Australia equal remuneration ruling earlier this year.
Fair Work found that workers in the sector were underpaid because most were women.
Warrawong Residents Forum Incorporated co-ordinator and community worker Maxyne Graham, who runs programs at Warrawong Community Centre, said it was all about being valued for the work she and others did and being paid appropriately.
‘‘It didn’t look like we were going to get anywhere for a while,’’ she said.
Ms Graham said working in a disadvantaged area, she dealt with people affected by poverty, unemployment, mental health and drug and alcohol issues.
‘‘When we’re not being paid appropriately for the work we do and the stress we’re under, I think the government undervalues what we do.
‘‘I’m now a mental health worker, drug and alcohol worker, a Jacqueline of all trades ... I’m involved in crisis and suicide intervention, getting people back on track and getting them to be socially included in our community.’’
Ms Graham said the pay increases would help to attract new, qualified staff.
‘‘New workers coming in from TAFE might choose to come into this sector now because they’ll be better paid.
Southern Youth and Family Services CEO Narelle Clay said the pay rises were amazing and she hoped they would stem the high staff turnover.