SPC Newsletter February 2012

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Welcome to Anne Tuohey

The Board of Social Policy connections is delighted to welcome Anne Tuohey as our new Executive Officer. With a deep background in social policy in Victoria, together with strong writing and media skills, Anne is well known in Melbourne social service circles. She will strengthen our team at SPC, working in collaboration with Susy Herlihy, our office coordinator. Anne writes :

I am delighted to join Social Policy Connections as part-time Executive Officer. I have spent 20 years in agencies committed to social justice and to supporting people who are the most disadvantaged and at-risk in our community, and am pleased to put this accumulated knowledge and experience to use for SPC. It is an organisation with a foundation of sound principles, which advocates for a fair society and a good deal for those who are missing out.

My roles have been in policy, research, and projects in a number of Catholic agencies, including Catholic Social Services Victoria, Jesuit Social Services, and VincentCare. I also worked with the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), and spent 12 years with the Victorian Office of Housing. This was where – as a manager of public housing across St Kilda and Prahran working from one of the high rise estates – I was initially exposed to the reality of inequity. As a result of this experience, I have remained committed to addressing the growing divide between the well-off and those who miss out. I also recognise that, until fundamentals such as affordable housing, quality education, and adequate health services are equally available to all, we cannot effectively redress this imbalance. I hope in this new role to explore ways in which we can advocate to alleviate structural inequities that contribute to the continuation of this divide.

I look forward to meeting and talking with those of you who will be participating in events and discussions held by SPC throughout the year.
Pay parity for community workers – a victory for fairness

By Anne Tuohey

The recent order by Fair Work Australia to award pay increases to tens of thousands of community service workers will provide welcome pay parity for those doing comparable work in the aged-care and government sectors.

This win has been a long time coming, and is a great victory, not only for fairness and in a pecuniary sense, but also because it demonstrates a valuing of the nature of the work of those who care for and support the most disadvantaged in our community. These include the homeless, the mentally ill, and those affected by drug and alcohol misuse. These people are almost always socially isolated and at-risk in many ways. Community workers are often the vital link for people who are otherwise struggling to cope with many challenges on their own.

The Fair Work Australia decision is likely to have a further benefit of elevating the status of the community sector in the eyes of the general public. A sad reality of life today is that, for many, high salaries equate to worth.

Hi salaries are often linked to executives increasing company profits, though we have seen many examples in which this isn’t the case. CEOs whose companies have reduced profit margins, or even brought their companies to the brink of disaster, are still often paid bonuses. It was heartening to see recently two Rio Tinto executives declining bonuses due to annual targets not being met.

So, this decision for pay parity for community workers reflects back to society several important messages. As a society we need to consider both the nature of and the value we place on certain types of work. We also need to consider levels of income which will enable workers to live adequately, meeting basic needs as well as enabling aspirations which enhance a person’s life and wellbeing. And, if we are serious about social and economic equity, there needs to be an alternative to the dominant capitalist ideology that often rewards outputs which do not contribute towards a fair society.

The excessive rates of remuneration paid to senior executives has skewed society’s sense of what is valued. This latest decision is an important re-balancing step in favour of valuing that which contributes towards a cohesive and equitable society.

Photo Tobias Higbie, Flickr cc

Ozanam Lecture 2012: Janet Buhagiar

Director Social Policy Northern Territory Department Chief Minister

Former CEO St Vincent de Paul Northern Territory

Frederic Ozanam : a contemporary leader and social reformist for our time

Respondent Teresa Wilson, Director Archdiocesan Office for Youth

Sunday 26 February at 2pm

Cardinal Knox Centre Lecture Theatre, Corner Albert and Lansdowne Streets, East Melbourne (entry via Lansdowne Street car park)

RSVP by Friday 17 February to St Vincent de Paul Society, 03 9895 5935  |  reception@svdp-vic.org.au.

Mr Brian Lawrence

Chair of the Australian Catholic Council of Employment Relations

Working families, social inclusion, and fair wages: moving beyond rhetoric

Wednesday 14 March at 7:30pm

The Study Centre, Yarra Theological Union, Box Hill, Victoria (best entry via Bedford Street)

Entry by donation. Light refreshments afterwards.

Brian Lawrence has written detailed submissions for a decade to the annual wage reviews of Fair Work Australia and its predecessors. In this address, he shows what needs to change to restore equity and life opportunities to people on minimal wages.

Dr Richard R Gaillardetz

Joseph McCarthy Professor of Theology, Boston College

From Memory to Mission: 50 years since Vatican Council II

This seminar explores what Vatican Council II offers today, challenges facing the church, and the need for fresh approaches.

Friday 9 March at 9:45am-3pm

Gasworks Theatre, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park.

$30, including morning tea and lunch.

RSVP by Friday 24 February to Maree Marsh csb at mareemarsh@brigidine.org.au.

The Yarra Institute has copies available of Geoff Lacey’s book

Sufficient for the Day: Towards a Sustainable Culture

“Something new and important to say about the roots of the environmental crisis and the way forward.” Paul Mees.

$20 plus postage. Request an Order Form at admin@socialpolicyconnections.com.au | 03 9899 4777 | PO Box 505 Box Hill 3028 Victoria.

 

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