By Grace Duckham , Madolline Gourley

Fair Work Australia has found that thousands of social and community service workers have been grossly underpaid for years.

In the landmark decision, Fair Work Australia said women working in the social services sector have been the most affected.

The decision could pave the way for these workers to receive a 30 per cent payrise.

In all, more than 200,000 people employed by non-government agencies in jobs such as childcare, recruitment, aged and disability services and aid agencies will be affected by the Fair Work decision.

National secretary for the Australian Services Union David Smith said it is a victory for both the union and social sector.

Mr Smith said the next step is to start bridging the remuneration gap between the sexes.

“We were successful in determining that there is an inequity, and our next step is to determine how much of an inequity and what the pay increases will be for members in that sector,” he said.

Australian Council of Social Service’s senior policy advisor, Tessa Boyd-Caine, said Fair Work Australia is finally recognising workers in these sectors are undervalued.

“It is recognition by Fair Work Australia that social services and their workers have been undervalued for the work that they’ve been doing,” Ms Boyd-Caine said.

She said the work conducted by social services workers requires a level of commitment which the community have been very slow to recognise as an area deserving of a competitive wage, as well as any kind of qualifcation.

A decision on a possible pay increase for the affected workers will be made later this year.