Community & disability services newsletter

Posted on
April 29, 2020
Social Community and Disability Sector

Your fortnightly union update

As the COVID-19 crisis continues we're proud to stand up for community & disability services workers every day - safety for clients and workers has been the number one focus as we deal with this crisis. This newsletter will keep you up to date on the state of play in the community and disability services sectors at the moment. As always, please contact us if you have concerns about how your employer is handling the COVID-19 crisis.


Changes in community services

Some community services organisations have had to alter their services because of COVID-19. Some have stopped all face-to-face meetings and others have had to drop services altogether, leaving the vulnerable in our communities to seek help from other services, some which aren't funded to provide the services that are required.

We're seeing staff unfortunately having their hours reduced and others having their rosters changed in order to minimise the chance of infection.

Some staff members are fortunate enough to be able to work from home and HACSU certainly encourages all staff to work from home where possible, and we're talking to employers to ensure this continues until the COVID-19 pandemic threat is over.

If there’s anything you need help with, please get in touch with us. We’re here to help.

Escalating our disability services talks

Over the last weeks, we've continued to lobby the state and federal governments to look at the urgent needs of the disability sector as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

Last week we met with the Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter and NDIS Minister Stuart Robert and spoke to them about the key needs for the disability sector, including incentive payments to workers, paid COVID-19 leave for workers who need to self-isolate, lack of PPE issues and more.

Unfortunately we didn’t get the response we were hoping for from the ministers so we're now going to step up the campaign to ensure disability services aren't ignored.

This week we're asking employers to sign on to a new letter to the federal government asking for these much-needed measures.

It’s really vital that we get as many disability service providers on board as possible to demonstrate to the government that they need to make this a priority.

Is your employer on board? We're calling disability employers this week, so feel free to encourage your boss to sign up.

We'll keep you posted on this.


COVID-19 allowance & paid leave entitlements to be heard by the FWC

This week HACSU and other unions lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to include an allowance for disability workers who are supporting a client with COVID-19.

The $4.94 an hour allowance is to recognise the additional requirements and responsibilities of disability support workers in providing specialised support, and we believe this will be heard by the FWC next week.

We're also waiting on the FWC to set dates around our application for paid leave for all community and disability service workers who need to self-isolate because of COVID-19. We're seeking 10 paid days leave for each occasion an employee needs to self-isolate, and we hope this will be heard very soon so you can have certainty around your entitlements during this crisis.


Acknowledging community services workers

Community services workers deserve just as much recognition during this time as other frontline workers. Community services are aimed at the elderly and those who have mental illness, learning disability and physical disability, and they're needed more than ever at the moment.

HACSU members working in community services are there to help people who need care and support to live with dignity and independence in the community and to avoid social isolation, which is crucial right now.

Several community services have adapted other ways of giving a 'helping hand' during this pandemic period, like our members at Red Cross who are continuing their current work but also working along with emergency services to ensure those families or close friends who can help out are able to have food and essentials delivered to their door.

A big shout out and thank you to everyone working in community services – you are champions!


Joint union/NDS bestpractice consultation guide during COVID-19

Unions and employer representatives have developed a best-practice guideline for how employers should consult with their workforce during the pandemic, and you can read the guide here.

If changes are needed in your workplace due to COVID-19, this guide should be used.

If your employer proposes significant changes you should call HACSUassist to ensure we can support and represent you through that process.


Congratulations to Langford Support Services on paid COVID-19 leave

HACSU welcomes the news that Langford Support Services have put aside significant funds to ensure staff are paid their full entitlements, including penalties and sleepover payments, if they're forced to self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Five employees have already benefited from Langford’s paid COVID-19 leave, meaning they lost no income when they were directed by their GP to self-isolate after returning from interstate.

HACSU thanks Langford for doing the right thing and ensuring the safety of staff and clients.

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form

Social Community and Disability Sector