• Alistair Waters from the Community and Public Sector Union.
Indigenous adults working for the government could be getting paid thousands of dollars less than their colleagues working in other departments, union representatives say.
Brooke Boney

19 Feb 2014 - 4:33 PM  UPDATED 19 Feb 2014 - 7:15 PM

The shift of public servants from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA) to the Prime Minister and Cabinet has highlighted the pay gap for Indigenous workers.

But the gap is even wider in departments that deal specifically with Indigenous issues, says the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

“Our research shows, has demonstrated, that organisations that provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and have a high proportion working for them [that] tend to be the lowest paid,” said Alistair Waters at the CPSU.

People working for Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) are among the worst paid.

A low-level public servant working for AHL receives more than $10,000 less than someone starting at the Audit Office.

Furthermore, an executive working at the Securities and Investment Commission is paid $45,214 more than the same-level job at AHL.

The Community and Public Sector Union is responsible for negotiating on behalf of employees with government about pay and working conditions.

“We have been able to make some headway but AHL and AIATSIS (The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) are among the bottom five for pay,” said Mr Waters.

But wage gaps are not a new concept for Indigenous people.

Indigenous workers around the country were paid only 50 per cent of the wages of their non-Indigenous counterparts until the late 1970’s.

In the 2006 census, the average household income for Indigenous people was $460 per week, compared to $740 for other Australians.

New contracts for government employees are currently being negotiated and will take effect in the new financial year.