Northern Territory Council of Social Service

Media Release – Survey: Northern Territory community services at risk from funding uncertainty


Thursday 27 February, 2020: A new survey has shown that almost half (44%) of Northern Territory community services could face cuts to their funding if the Federal Government does not renew funding that has been in place for almost a decade.

The Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) Supplementation funding – which affects workers and organisations providing essential community services such as homelessness and domestic, family and sexual violence services – was put in place in 2012 to address the pay inequality experienced by the community sector due to its highly feminised workforce.

It provides up to $554.5 million per annum across the Australian community services sector.

In the Northern Territory, at least 44 per cent of Northern Territory services received ERO supplementation based on Australian Community Sector Survey (ACSS).[1]

“We’re deeply concerned that the Federal Government has yet to commit to the continuation of funding put in place to ensure staff are paid fairly in this sector, which is made up of 80 per cent women”, said Deborah Di Natale, NTCOSS CEO.

“Community service workers deserve fair pay for their important work.

“Northern Territory workers in the community service sector provide support to people when they need it most, when they’re facing homelessness, escaping domestic violence or dealing with child protection and youth justice issues.

“Cutting funding for community sector workers would mean fewer people to help those who need help the most,” she said.

Community sector leaders surveyed as part of the ACSS said that without the renewal of this funding, community service organisations would have to reduce staffing and services provided.

“Without the funding our 25 workers – 23 of whom are women – will in effect face negative wage growth,” said Linda Weatherhead, Executive Director, Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS).

“Our ability to recruit and retain workers will suffer, we will struggle to deliver services effectively and some service delivery might revert to government agencies at higher cost and diminished responsiveness.

“That’s without looking at the bigger picture — human services is one of the NT’s biggest employers and any reduction in funding will have a significant negative impact on the already ailing NT economy,” she said.

Read the full results of the survey here –

Available for interview:

  • Deborah Di Natale, CEO NTCOSS
  • Linda Weatherhead, Executive Director, Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS)

Please contact Shaun Brockman, 0411 039 429 or



Additional quote from Northern Territory community sector leaders as part of the ACSS survey:

We only receive some supplementation not all and so we are already trying to manage significant deficits.  It is likely to lead to significant job losses and a cut back on services. (CEO, NT service)

[1] The ACSS 2019 was conducted as a partnership between ACOSS, the COSS network, Community Sector Banking, and the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at UNSW Sydney. Analysis was prepared by Dr Natasha Cortis and Dr Megan Blaxland from SPRC. A report on the full survey is shortly forthcoming.