Community & disability services newsletter

Posted on
September 7, 2020
Social Community and Disability Sector

Your sector update.

There is plenty happening across Community and Disability Services at the moment, and we're still very concerned this sector hasn't received the same focus as public health and aged care when it comes to COVID-19 government responses. 

We are still pursuing paid pandemic leave for those who need to self-isolate in response to COVID-19 and we are continuing to fight for an allowance for workers who need to support someone suspected of having or who has COVID-19. 

On a Tasmanian level, we are still discussing significant issues with industry and we’re hopeful of meeting soon to look at options around a portable long service scheme for the disability sector. 


FWC hearing dates for paid pandemic leave in SCHDS award 

Following the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision in Aged Care, we have urged the FWC to extend the paid pandemic leave provision to disability support workers and home care workers covered by the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award. Our correspondence can be viewed here.

HACSU welcomes the news that the Victorian Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas has written to the FWC supporting paid pandemic leave in Awards; the government's submission said, “Paid pandemic award leave would be a valuable resource in the broad package of economic and public health responses to help prevent  transmission of the virus.”

Disappointingly, the FWC has expressed a provisional view that it will not extend paid pandemic leave beyond aged care, however has called for further submissions and a hearing before making a final decision. The matter has been listed for a hearing on 21-22 September, and our submissions are due on 2 September. We will keep branches informed on the outcome. 

Disability abuse Royal Commission

After delaying its March 2020 hearings due to the pandemic, the Disability Abuse Royal Commission has re-commenced hearings last week examining the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability. The Commission has also released its Second Progress Report summarising the work carried out by the commission in the first six months of 2020. 

Additionally, the Commission has announced its hearing schedule and topics for the remainder of 2020, summarised below with areas of interest to HACSU bolded. 

•      Week 21 September – Psychotropic medication, behaviour support and behaviours of concern

•      Week 12 October – Education

•      Week 16 November – Criminal justice system

•      Week 23 November – First Nations people and experience of child protection systems

•      Week TBC December TBC – Training and education of health care professionals in relation to people with cognitive disability

•      Week TBC December – Systemic barriers in the pathways to employment for people with disability 

When the Commission commenced HACSU determined we would engage with the Commission once their agenda was made clearer (particularly whether the sentiment of the Commissioners was anti-worker). Based on current evidence,the Commission is sympathetic to the issues faced by disability sector workers and HACSU will be working with those unions with coverage in other jurisdictions to plan our engagement. 


ACTU campaign: For The Workers 

The ACTU’s For the Workers campaign is designed to leverage the current high visibility of, and support for, workers.It will emphasise the union message that we won’t accept and cuts to wages or conditions from the Government’s IR working groups.  

HACSU is participating in a national campaign around this and we will have further updates shortly in relation this. 

Continued push for Portable long service leave 

HACSU has been pushing for Portable Long Service Leave for the disability sector (as well as for community services and aged care) for quite some time now. 

HACSU believes that Long Service Leave is an entitlement that is intended to apply to all Tasmanian workers, however many workers in the sector do not get the opportunity to take it because, through no fault of their own, they are unable to work with the same employer long enough to qualify.  

Many community and disability workers need to change employers because the caseloads for the clients have changed, because clients have needed different types of services or the client has moved on and they require continuity of care from the same worker.  

Another reason that workers don’t stay with the one employer is because of casualisation and there not being enough hours, leaving workers to move on to another employer to try to gain a more permanent position.  

HACSU will continue to push for Portable Long Service Leave for those that work in the community and disability sector!  


Restructures and what they mean to you 

With the number of organisational restructures happening in the disability sector right now, you cannot be blamed for feeling a tad insecure about your employment or what it will look like into the foreseeable future. 

Employers are now increasingly consulting with their staff about impending changes to the way they will operate, how they will perform their duties and where they will be based in the community in the future. 

The days of the facility-style day service buildings are increasingly being phased out and run from community-based locations like libraries, public recreation parks and community centres.

NDIS funding (or lack thereof) is being increasingly linked to this ever evolving workplace issue along with “Client Choice” which has created some uncertainty amongst employers about how they will need to operate into the future if they want to maintain the programs that they currently offer to recruit service users to the organisation and retain service users currently in their care. 

Invariably this process creates angst amongst employees, especially those potentially facing redeployment or even redundancy or loss of contracted hours through this process. 

Restructures are designed to streamline a process and to make staff more accountable into the future,which can sometimes mean an increased workload for some of those directly affected. 

The correct process for restructures, when they occur, is available in the SCHADS Award for award-based employees, or your workplace enterprise agreement if you’re covered by one. 


The importance of writing notes & handover, should you be asked in an inquiry 

A recent NDIS investigation has highlighted the importance of proper documentation and handover notes.  

Here are some best practise tips: 

Because some workers perform different functions on different shifts, it’s important to make sure you put the initials of your workmates and record who performed which job on the shift. Don’t just say that you and another worker provided care. 

It’s important for accuracy in case the staff member you worked with wasn’t rostered on the shift.  

If you report an incident to a team leader or a Nurse, write the initials of who you reported the incident to – do not just state that you reported it. 

If you report something to another organisation,make sure you know who the person was that you reported it to. 

If you are going to say that a resident was unsettled, you need to say why your felt they were and what you did to try to help them out. You also need to use the initials of the resident or room number of the resident so they can be identified. 

The time that event/s occurred is also important in case there a timeline of events needs to be established down the track. 

Remember, you may get asked about what happened weeks or months down the track, and after a few weeks one day blends into another. 

Thorough notes will help you out if you are asked about something that happened a long time ago.

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