Becoming an Industry: The Struggle of Social and Community Workers for Award Coverage, 1976–2001

Chris Briggs*, Gabrielle Meagher, Karen Healy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Until the 1990s, most workers employed by non-government community services organizations were excluded from the most basic right of Australian industrial citizenship' ” award coverage. Expected to be a formality by the newly-formed Australian Social Welfare Union, establishing an award for the non-profit social and community services sector became a grinding struggle at both federal and state levels against the resistance of both Liberal-National coalition and Labor party governments, the major charities and other unions stretching from the 1970s through the 1990s. Our explanation of why the struggle for industrial recognition was so long and hard emphasizes the lack of social recognition for care work and contradictions among care workers between their roles as professionals, caring for others, and unionists ” factors that led to internal, institutional, strategic and cultural resistance to an award for the social and community services workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-521
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Award coverage
  • care workers
  • community services
  • industrial recognition
  • union strategy


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