As you might be aware, HACSU issued a public statement in March following former Premier Gutwein’s knee-jerk decision to take a sledgehammer to the Department of Communities Tasmania. In a follow-up letter to the then Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockcliff, we asked for engagement with the government to determine why such a drastic decision had been made. All of this is happening at a time when a Commission of Inquiry is being held into this government’s response to institutional abuse against young people.
The Commission is yet to hand down its findings. Why is the government making a change that is likely to undermine any recommendations arising from the Inquiry?
While we were meeting with members across DCT recently, we repeatedly heard people asking, “What did we do so wrong that this decision needed to be made?” and “Why is this happening?”.
Although we’ve been asking the same question again and again, the government (that is, the Premier) has not contacted us to explain the move. It seems the only person who knows why is the former Premier and Member for Bass, who has now completely disappeared from politics. However, as you know, the change is coming like a steam train!
HACSU has made it clear that we strongly oppose the change, which will risk our most vulnerable Tasmanians, children, and those seeking a home or, at the very least, a shelter.
In our letter to the Premier, we said:
On the key issues, our primary reasons for opposition are two-fold:
On the South Australian experience, the Report of the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission said:
It concluded that a new independent department should be established with child protection as its primary focus. As this was a major reform, an interim recommendation was made, and accepted by the government, to establish the new department to enable the government to start planning the necessary organisational change in advance of the other reforms set out in this report.
Moreover, this is a massive change that will significantly impact your conditions at work. At this stage, issues such as which Award and Agreement you’ll be employed under are yet to be resolved. We are alarmed. With only weeks or months until the change takes place, we have no advice from the government about how they intend to deal with this.
We’ll be meeting with delegates to get their feedback on the change process over the next couple of weeks. Once we get to know how delegates feel about these issues, we’ll then arrange membership meetings. Stay tuned for more information.