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Government QLD, Industrial Relations

Youth detention workers win historic pay rise

Australian Workers' Union (Queensland) 3 mins read

Workers in Queensland’s youth detention system are set to receive a historic pay rise from the Queensland Government, with union members across the state voting to accept the State Government’s pay offer today.

The pay offer, which will mean at least an extra $390 per fortnight for full time workers, is one of the most significant pay rises offered to any group of workers in the public service in years. AWU Queensland Secretary Stacey Schinnerl said that the pay rise will make a difference to health and safety across the system.

“Workers in Queensland’s youth detention system are subject to extreme workplace violence caused by a severe shortage of staff,” Ms Schinnerl said.

“Our members need radical action to address this staffing shortage, and that is what the Palaszczuk Government is delivering through this pay offer.”

The offer was made after nearly two months of negotiations between the Australian Workers’ Union and the Department of Youth Justice following staff walking off the job over health and safety concerns in early July.

Measures to address issues with attracting and retaining workers in the sector formed a key part of bargaining.

Between a 4% pay rise in the first year of the agreement and a $300 increase to their environmental allowance, new Detention Youth Workers will be around $390 per fortnight better off than right now.

A new Skilled Worker Allowance will mean workers with more than two years’ experience will receive an additional $45 per fortnight, aiding with retaining capable staff.

Ms Schinnerl said that the department’s current offer addresses these issues.

“This pay offer from the department has been designed to help attract and retain the staff we need to make these workplaces safe,” Ms Schinnerl said.

“Some of these workers currently earn a base rate of less than $60,000 a year. This kind of pay rise is very significant.”

AWU members at the Brisbane, Cleveland and West Moreton Youth Detention Centres have met over the past two days and have voted to provide in-principle agreement to the Government’s offer.

Ms Schinnerl said that this result was a credit to the youth detention workforce.

“This is a fantastic result that would not have been possible if these workers hadn’t stuck together and taken action in their workplace,”

“These workers know their worth, they understand the value of the service they provide the Queensland public, and they take their health and safety incredibly seriously,”

“This win belongs to them.”

Ms Schinnerl thanked the Queensland Government on behalf of the workforce.

“Good governments back the front line, and that is exactly what the Palaszczuk Government has done with this pay rise,”

“I would like to thank the Premier, the Treasurer, Minister Farmer and her department for coming to the table and supporting these brilliant public servants.”

Once in-principle agreement is provided to the offer, the agreement will be subject to drafting and there will be a ballot of all affected workers to determine if they formally support the agreement.



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The Australian Workers’ Union is Queensland’s oldest and largest blue collar trade union.

The AWU has over 600 members in Queensland’s three youth detention centres.

The Department’s Latest Offer

The offer that workers are accepting is one of the most significant pay rises the public sector has seen in years.

The main wage items are as follows:

• An increase in the environmental allowance (known as the Youth Justice Employees’ Allowance) from $53.80 per fortnight to $353.80 per fortnight. All operational employees receive this allowance. This is an increase of $300 per fortnight.

• A new $45 per fortnight Skilled Worker Allowance for workers with more than two years’ service. This is to encourage retention of skilled, existing staff.

• 4%/4%/3% pay rises over the three years of the agreement.

• A Cost-of-Living Adjustment Payment. This is a payment for each year of the agreement that occurs if the CPI is higher than the offered pay rise for that year, capped at 3%. The COLA Payment in the first year of the agreement will be 3%.

AWU Meetings

A meeting of AWU members considered the offer at Cleveland Youth Detention Centre yesterday morning (Tuesday 22nd August 2023) and the offer was unanimously endorsed.

Meetings of AWU members have also occurred at Brisbane Youth Detention Centre and West Moreton Youth Detention Centre this morning (Wednesday 23rd August 2023), both of which moved to accept the offer.

Contact details:

Joey Kaiser: 0401 098 484

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