There is a very serious problem with determining wage levels in Australia. The Fair Work Commission continues to base its minimum wage determinations on a single adult without a family to care for. This means that single-income earners with families dependent on the minimum wage are being forced to live in poverty. The value of the minimum wage has decreased in relation to national wage levels in recent decades.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has called for an increase of the minimum wage from $719.20 per week to $760, lifting the minimum wage to $20 an hour. It also called for award wages to be increased by $31 per week and 3.7 per cent for wages above $837.40 per week.
Mr Joe Zabar, deputy CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, has also urged both major political parties to revisit the Howard-era Family Tax Benefits to support family incomes and restore cuts to the FTB. Despite businesses making very handsome profits in recent years, wage levels remain depressed, single-income families especially are struggling, and more than 700,000 dependent children are still living in poverty.
In addition, there were nearly 300,000 sole parents living in homes in or near poverty. The Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations in its Living Wage Claim and Submission to the Fair Work Commission on 13 March 2018 urged the FWC to abandon its policy of awarding a uniform percentage increase to all minimum wage rates, and provide greater increases to the National Minimum Wage to lift many more people out of poverty. It said that the minimum wage had fallen from over 60% of median wages to less than 54%. Had the relativity been maintained, many more families would have a decent standard of living.