Fair Work panel needs social policy experts: Catholic leaders

Michaelia Cash (SBS News screenshot)

Catholic leaders have called for a social policy expert to be appointed to a panel advising the Fair Work Commission, to better address poverty and disadvantage in the community. Source: Australian Financial Review.

The panel forms part of the advice process for Australia’s annual reviews of minimum wages. The terms of the five members of the expert panel come to an end next month, with Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash set to make replacement appointments in coming weeks.

ACCER chair Margaret Savage has written to the government asking for one of the new appointments to meet Fair Work Act requirements for the promotion of social inclusion and the need to protect families against poverty and social disadvantage.

The group said workers should receive wages sufficient to protect families against poverty and disadvantage and provide a decent standard of living, a view council members Ms Savage said is “widely shared in contemporary Australia and is embedded in the nature and purpose of the minimum wage provisions in the Fair Work Act”.

Panel members are required to have knowledge and experience in one or more areas set out in legislation, including workplace relations; economics; social policy; business, industry or commerce; finance; investment management; and superannuation.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president and Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said religious organisations, including the Church, worked to support and advocate for people living in poverty and on the margins.

“Despite 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth in Australia, there are hundreds of thousands of people who find themselves in poverty even though they have a job – not to mention those struggling to live with dignity on Newstart and other allowances,” he said.

“Our agencies see first-hand the effects of economic policies that fail to provide adequate support to those within and outside the workforce. It is critical that those experiences, those learnings, are part of the conversation when decisions are made that have the potential to lift up or keep down some of society’s most vulnerable people.”

Archbishop Coleridge said the Fair Work Commission expert panel should include at least one person with experience in social policy and experience concerning poverty and disadvantage to contribute to the annual minimum wage decision.


Social policy expertise needed on Fair Work Commission panel: religious leaders (Australian Financial Review)

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