Community & disability services newsletter

Posted on
November 29, 2021
Social Community and Disability Sector

Your union update

Disability Workers Week coming up soon 

This year’s Disability Workers Week will kick off on Sunday 5 December. We’ll be thanking disability support workers with lots of events across the state including BBQs and plenty more.

Also we’ll begiving disability workers chances to win some excellent prizes:  

•  $600 in your choice of Coles or Woolworths gift cards

•  $300 in your choice of Coles or Woolworths cards

•  $150 in your choice of Coles or Woolworths cards

•  $50 gift cards

•  A send chance draw to the value of $300

At all events, workplace visits and other activities, HACSU organisers will be handing out scratchies for your chance to win.

You can follow our Facebook page to keep up to date with events and prizes.

For further information or to get more involved in the week, please contact us at HACSUassist.  


Mandatory vaccine update 

Premier Peter Gutwein announced last week that mandatory COVID-19 vaccines would be required for disability support workers.

The indication is that workers would be required to be fully vaccinated before the borders open on 15 December. If this is the case, then staff would need to have their first jab on 23 or 24 November at the latest.

As we’ve learnt from compulsory vaccinations in aged care and health, staff are not often given much time to get vaccinated. And the governments that make these decisions are not providing enough education and information to work through any concerns workers may have.

We are currently trying to find out more information about this and have raised those issues at both state and federal government levels.

We’ll update you as soon as we get additional information so that you can seek the appropriate medical advice that you need.  


HACSU win: absurd cleaning mandate removed 

After we became aware that OnTrack Tasmania had an outrageous mandate that tasked disability support workers up with excessive cleaning duties, we’ve been working actively to solve the issue.

Now our union action has made OnTrack agree to remove the cleaning mandate. They’ve written to staff saying that they no longer need to do excessive cleaning tasks but just do the basic cleaning following their original policy (which is acceptable).

The unreasonable cleaning mandate had taken workers away from the real purpose of their role, which is supporting their clients. Disability workers shouldn’t be exploited and forced to undertake tasks out of their statement of duties.

This is just another reason why you should be a member of HACSU, the union for disability support workers, and encourage your colleagues to do so.  


Unvaccinated support workers sent home on lockdown day 

On a disturbing note, when Southern Tasmania went into lockdown from 6pm on Friday 15 October, we heard from members at Hobart City Mission that disability support workers who were not fully vaccinated were relieved of duty and sent home at 6pm while they were on duty performing an afternoon shift then going into a sleepover shift.

The employer also removed the workers’ rostered weekend shifts and brought in other fully vaccinated support workers to replace them.

While the Premier has now announced that COVID vaccine will be mandatory for disability workers, that has not taken effect yet. Employers should follow the public health advice to encourage staff to get vaccinated, rather than punishing them by sending them home or cutting their hours.

We’ve asked the people & culture team at Hobart City Mission why they thought this was appropriate, but we haven’t heard anything from them to date. So what do they have to hide?

We’re now following up with affected members and supporting them to get back their missed pay and entitlements.

If you’re affected or things like this have happened in your workplace, please contact us as soon as possible so we can look into the issues for you.  


Are you covered when using your personal vehicle for work purposes? 

If you use your car for work purposes, you should have appropriate insurance.

When you get your insurance, it's important to let the insurance company know that on the odd occasion you have clients in your car as part of a service that your employer provides.

If you don’t disclose this information, you may not be covered if you have an accident while there is a client in your car.

In some cases, if your employer authorises you to use your personal vehicle for transport, they can also request your insurance coverage certificate, registration papers (to make sure it is current) and some employers will ask to see your car’s service manual to confirm your car is roadworthy so that they can then give this information to NDIS if required.

The main thing to remember is to have a quick chat with your insurance company as soon as you canto ensure you are covered so that it doesn’t cause you any trouble in the long run.

If you are ever unsure of what an employer can and cannot make you do with your personal vehicle, you can speak to us by calling HACSUassist.  


Filling in incident reports is crucial in disability sector 

We’ve represented some members in the disability sector recently over alleged disciplinary issues, and we found that workers are not always filling in incident reports.

If you don’t fill in an incident report, sometimes you unintentionally set up a fellow worker down the track.

On one occasion, a participant, Tom*, showed behaviours out of character when Harry*, a disability worker was supporting him, but Harry didn’t put in an incident report because he didn’t have time to do one.

Later on, when Tom was with another support worker, Dave*, his behaviour escalated and he assaulted Dave and then put in a complaint about Dave. Dave was injured and had to be off work for several weeks.

Tom was eventually found to have a hernia which was causing pain and in turn, was responsible for the outburst. If Harry had put in an incident report, the hernia problem could have been solved before Dave got injured.

Another example was when a worker, Jess*, took a client to his father’s place for the first time for a visit, but she didn’t note that his father had several cats and the house had a distinct smell to it.

Then Linda*,another support worker, had to take the client to his father’s home a few days later. Linda was an asthmatic and unfortunately allergic to cats, and this caused her a severe asthma attack. If Jess had noted that there were cats at the house, then Linda could have swapped with another worker and saved herself from the asthma attack.

Sometimes management claim that they haven’t had have any reports about an issue, but when we look into it, a worker has put in a report but no one has looked at it for weeks. Other times, workers might have noticed an issue but thought there’s no point in putting in a report as nothing ever gets done.

Employers should be slammed for not taking care of their workforce, but we can only hold them accountable if workers have let them know about the issue.

So please fill in incident forms on every occasion you think it’s necessary.

If it’s a serious incident, fill the form in and submit it and then contact your immediate supervisor. If you put in a report but haven’t heard anything back within five days, then you should enquire as to what has gone on. If you are having issues at your workplace when you put in incident reports and never hear anything, then please contact HACSUassist.

*All names have been changed.

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