Wage rise threatens disabled jobs

THE largest employer of disabled people in the Shoalhaven could face closure if a push to increase wages is successful.

GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT: Amanda Seccombe enjoys her work and would hate to see Flagstaff Group face closure.

GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT: Amanda Seccombe enjoys her work and would hate to see Flagstaff Group face closure.

Parents of disabled Flagstaff Group employees are concerned a pay rise to workers could lead to the organisation’s closure.

Flagstaff is opposing an incoming supported wages system which is expected to mandate far higher wages for people involved in its enterprises, making the operation unviable.

Supported employees at Flagstaff are paid according to an approved wage assessment tool.

The Health Services Union and United Voice recently lodged an application in the Fair Work Commission seeking to have such tools replaced with the Supported Wages System, designed to help workers with disability work on the open employment market.

Flagstaff Group chief executive officer Roy Rogers said the change to payment would make it unviable for the organisation to continue.

“We are the largest employer of people with a disability in the Shoalhaven,” he said.

“We employ 87 people.”

Cambewarra resident Warren Seccombe’s daughter Amanda works for Flagstaff.

Mr Seccombe said working there had boosted his daughter’s confidence and given her more purpose.

“We spoke to her about the money and she was happy to keep working there,” he said.

“It would always be nice to get more money, but Flagstaff provides a lot more than a job.

“And the money she gets she handles very well.

“Amanda could probably get work elsewhere, but there would be a lot of people who would not get work if Flagstaff shut down.

“I don’t think you’ll find anyone is forced to go there,” Mr Seccombe said.

The federal government monitors what organisations are paying and Flagstaff pays its employees 12 per cent higher than the national average of similar services.

Mr Rogers said it was not just about work. 

“It’s bigger than that, it’s about having somewhere to go, the social aspect and feeling a part of the community,” he said.

“One family member told me if her son couldn’t go to work she would have to leave her job to care for him.

“Health outcomes would be affected if organisations like Flagstaff had to close.

“If people don’t go to work you find boredom sets in and then their health deteriorates.”

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