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Tuesday, 14 May 2002
Page: 1504


Senator Allison asked the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 15 March 2002:

With reference to the answer to question on notice no. 3780 (Senate Hansard, 27 August 2001, p. 26757).

(1) What was the legal advice the department received that advised it that workers from the Australian Foundation for Disabled (trading as Afford) were exempt from the legal award rates and did not have to have entitlements paid.

(2) On what grounds were some of Afford's outlets not listed in the award until after October 2000.

(3) Will the Government require Afford to ensure that all ex-employees are located so they can have their entitlements in wages and superannuation paid to them, as they are entitled by law.

(4) Is the Minister aware that workers at Afford's Ashfield plant have not been paid their entitlements from 1997.

(5) Can the Minister advise if workers at Afford's Blacktown, Guildford and Canley Vale plants have been paid their full entitlements; if not, can the Minister advise when this will happen.

(6) How does the department propose to ensure these workers receive their entitlements.

(7) Has the department looked at how it can better monitor groups which receive federal government funding to ensure they comply with relevant legislation protecting the entitlements of workers.

(8) Is the Minister aware that workers at Afford are still waiting to have wheelchair access to the head office in Minchinbury.


Senator Vanstone (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Department has not sought or received legal advice about the Australian Foundation for Disabled (trading as Afford).

(2) Afford reported to the Department that its own legal advice was that The Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union Supported employment (Business Enterprises) Award1993 did not apply to employees at the Ashfield, Guildford and Blacktown outlets as they were not transferred to the control of Afford until 14 December 1996 and the award was signed in 1993. All Afford outlets are now parties to the award.

(3) The Department understands that Afford is attempting to contact all ex-employees at their last known address. All ex-employees who have replied to Afford have had their entitlements paid.

(4) The Department understands the Ashfield plant has merged with the Marrickville plant. Afford claims all current employees have been paid their entitlements. Attempts are being made to contact all ex-employees at their last known address to back pay their entitlements.

(5) Afford's Blacktown, Guildford and Canley Vale plants have closed and the employees have been transferred to other Afford plants. The Department understands that all current employees have been paid their entitlements. Afford is attempting to contact all ex-employees at their last known address to back pay their entitlements.

(6) Afford has an obligation to pay wages under award. Departmental investigations have found no evidence that Afford was not paying in accordance with the award, except in relation to the outlets not listed in the award. These were brought into line with other Afford outlets in October 2000.

(7) The Commonwealth's new quality assurance system which will come into effect from 1 July 2002 will monitor the employment conditions of people with a disability in Commonwealth funded disability employment and rehabilitation services. Services will be assessed by independent, skilled auditors against the Disability Services Standards that have been agreed to by the disability sector. Standard 9 requires services to provide working conditions that are comparable to those of the general workforce.

(8) The Department understands that Afford is currently seeking quotes to provide wheelchair access to the head office in Minchinbury and expects the cost to be around $100 000. This expense will be considered in Afford's 2002/2003 capital works program.