08/10/2009 - 00:00

NFPs to benefit from united voice

08/10/2009 - 00:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

A NEW association representing not-for-profit employers in the non-government sector has been given approval by the state's Industrial Relations Commission to become a registered employer organisation.

NFPs to benefit from united voice
James Lawton is lobbying for the NFP sector, particularly with regard to remuneration.

A NEW association representing not-for-profit employers in the non-government sector has been given approval by the state's Industrial Relations Commission to become a registered employer organisation.

Community Employers WA (CEWA) was formed to increase funding for the under-resourced not-for-profit sector and improve wages and conditions for staff.

As an employer organisation, CEWA will operate similar to industry peak bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and Western Australian Council of Social Service, with a role to try and influence government policy and ensure member organisations remain sustainable into the future.

The IR Commission full bench decision came after the April launch of the Australian Community Services Industry Group, an inaugural industry body for social services organisations in Australia.

Like the national body, CEWA focuses on strengthening the social services sector by acting as a voice from an employer perspective on industry issues such as funding and workforce supply.

CEWA executive director James Lawton told WA Business News the state employer organisation was conceived about 18 months ago when a loose affiliation of 29 charities and benevolent institutions grouped together to look at ways of making the NFP sector more viable and sustainable.

WA Business News understands CEWA founding member organisations paid between $3,000 and $5,000 each to join the association and that almost 100 other NFPs had sought to join with a modest membership fee of $10.

Mr Lawton said obtaining employer organisation accreditation gave the association credibility and weight.

“The industry has been facing a squeeze on funding," he said.

“We needed to create an association that could tackle these issues head on and facilitate change."

Mr Lawton said pay and conditions in the community services sector fell short of other industries, with a growing discrepancy in wages between men and women.

He said a private sector employee or government-employed professional could earn $26,000 more a year than a community sector worker undertaking the same job.

WACOSS statistics show that women in Western Australia are paid 26 per cent less than their male counterparts - the largest gap in the country - while the national average gender pay gap is 17 per cent.

“The fact that the community services sector is large, the second-largest employer of women in WA, female-dominated and lowly paid means that more equitable wages for the sector would have a significant effect on the gender pay gap in WA," Mr Lawton said.

East Perth-based specialist crime prevention service provider, Outcare, which is a founding member of CEWA, is a little-known not-for-profit organisation poised to benefit from the association's development.

Chief executive Peter Sirr said despite being established in the early 1960s, Outcare did not have the exposure of many charitable organisations or the funds for self-promotion.

“We have been under-represented for a long period of time, so I think it's a welcome move to have some representation and a vehicle to help organisations like ours attract and retain good staff, but also pay them accordingly as well," he said.

CEWA is co-chaired by Chris Hall, chief executive of UnitingCare West, and Tony Pietropiccolo, chief executive of Centrecare.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options