The history of the Australian Services Union reflects the ambitious nature of the union today. 

Through the union, our members gained equal pay for women in the community services sector, delivering the first ever workplace agreement to provide domestic violence leave and protecting hard won conditions and entitlements.

We stood by our members for almost a decade after they were stood down after the collapse of Ansett, and our members received 96 cents in the dollar, when many thought that their entitlements had been lost forever. 

We were the first to organise white collar workers known as clerks during the early years of Federation, the first to organise today’s digital economy (then known as the computing industry) and responsible for defining a recognised ‘industry’ in social and community services which had previously not been recognised. 

We continue to extend on the role the union has played over more than a century, taking on issues others see as too hard, or too ambitious. See what achievements we made in our last decade, as we look forward to what we can achieve together in the decade to come.  

Recent history of the ASU:

+ 2010
  • Portable Long Service Leave Commences: Portable Long Service Leave Commences in the ACT for Social and Community Services workers. This historic achievement is used to successfully argue for the same conditions in other states, with Victoria commencing their leave programs in 2019 and Queensland in 2020.
  • Australia-first, Domestic Violence Leave: ASU reaches first agreement to gain victims of domestic violence 20 days of paid leave. This Australia-first deal between the Surf Coast Shire Council and the Australian Services Union, was the world's most progressive workplace agreement on family violence at that time. Since then millions of workers across many industries have been covered by similar agreements supported by their unions, using the ASU template.
  • Former Ansett staff final payment: The ASU stood by former Ansett staff after the airline collapsed in the early 2000’s. The tenacity of our union saw members receive 96 cents in the dollar of their entitlements. In total, employees received $727.5 million. At the time of the Ansett collapse many thought they would not receive anything. The ASU will always be by your side.
  • Torres Strait Islanders gain ceremonial leave: ASU advocacy through the Fair Work Commission changes modern awards to include Torres Strait Islanders access to 10 days ceremonial leave - a clear oversight that was acted upon by the ASU.
+ 2012
  • Victory on Equal Pay: "Today is a day in a generation – a day for all women to celebrate" said then ASU Secretary Sally McManus. ASU members campaigned for Equal Pay. Many said it couldn’t be achieved. The ASU and the Gillard Government reached agreement on February 1, and the Fair Work Commission awarded a real wage increase of 23% – 45% over eight years. We love the work we do, and we deserved to be paid a fair amount.
+ 2014
  • Use Your Power: Between 2014 and 2017 we stopped the proposed privatisation of Western Power in WA. Privatisation, first pitched up in the 2014 State Budget, uniting ASU members, ETU members and the community in their opposition. Western Power privatisation became a major election issue for undecided voters, and the threat ended when the Barnett Government lost office in 2017.
+ 2017
  • Federal Government Abandoned Changes to Paid Parental Leave: ASU members working together stared down the threat by the Federal Government to remove the hard won Paid Parental Leave rights in over 420 ASU agreements. We are ambitious to see our members with good pay and leave entitlements. 
+ 2019
  • After a nine year ASU campaign years calling for a 25% pay-rise for casuals working in the community sector on weekends and public holidays, in 2019, the Fair Work Commission changed the SCHADS Award. This meant casuals working under the award must be paid their 25% casual loading in addition to overtime time and weekend penalty rates. 
+ 2020
  • ASU Virgin members across Australia fought hard to retain strong secure jobs and working conditions in the COVID 19 pandemic and were successful. In the pandemic, job security was a top priority for the Australian Services Union who ensured 12,000 workers from kept their livelihood in 2020 alone. 
+ 2021
  • ASU members in the disability and community sector improve their conditions in the Fair Work Commission. Part time disability workers gained a minimum 2-hour payment. Part timers working in the community sector also won a minimum 3 hour payment. Part timers now able to refuse additional hours. 
+ 2022
  • After years of campaigning by ASU members, the $450 per month earning threshold for the superannuation guarantee was finally scrapped. Together, members of the ASU, SDA and ANMF ensured workers earning under $450 per month from a single employer get super on every dollar they earn. This issue disproportionately impacted affected young, lower-income and part-time workers – the majority of whom are women – and stopped them from earning super.
  • In 2022, huge wins came to fruition due to the efforts of ASU members in the campaign for paid domestic violence leave. After over a decade-long campaign led by ASU members calling for a minimum of ten days paid domestic violence leave, on 16 May 2022, the Fair Work Commission made an in-principle decision that allowed 2.66 million workers covered by Modern Awards to access to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave. Then on 28 July 2022, Tony Burke (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) introduced a Bill to Parliament regarding legislation to implement 10 days of domestic violence and family leave into the National Employment Standards (NES) following calls from the ASU that this lifesaving leave would save lives. Such legislation will give 11 million Australians access to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.
"As workers, we often struggle with job insecurity, short term contracts and low wages. I joined the union to ensure that we can have good conditions...the ASU stands by your side.” 
ASU member 

We Won’t Wait

The ASU has been a leader in making workplaces better for those who experience violence in the home. 3/05/2022