Public sector newsletter

Posted on
March 29, 2021
Public Sector

Your sector update.

Here’s your update on Tasmanian public sector and agency issues, the ongoing COVID response and other things relating to broader public sector and union campaigns.

We’re ever hopeful the ongoing issues in health and communities are addressed in a way that offers real and lasting solutions, but we’re not naive enough to think some of those solutions will come without fighting for them.

There’s still a lot happening, which means ongoing workload pressure for you, but we continue to highlight issues and resolve them as we can.


Where are we going with mental health services?

There’s been some big talk recently about reforming mental health services, and we all know some things need significant improvement and resourcing, but where are we going with the current reform proposal?

Are we designing a service that addresses the needs of Tasmanians while creating an inclusive and supportive service where clinicians and those in support roles want to work?

Several change proposals in the southern region and some appointments to transition manager roles seem positive but there are still too many unknowns, too many ignored questions and too many struggling Tasmanians who can’t wait for reform to happen.

Too often we see change designed to fit a specific funding model, or whatever else, but that does not address the real issue which we all know is well-resourced service delivery.

The Premier’s recent announcement of more additional funding is positive, but funding without a robust and well-delivered plan for change is bound to be wasted.

We’ll be out talking to workers in mental health services so we can develop a plan together to make sure any change benefits those who work in mental health.

For more info or to organise a meeting in your work area please contact HACSUassist or call 1300 880 032.


Child Safety Service redesign rolls on

We’re working with Communities Tasmania through the final stages of the re-design and reform of the Child Safety Service across Tasmania. Our final feedback on the change of leaders at a practice level is due by 1 April.

Despite the apparent positives, we’re concerned that the introduction of practice leaders and practice managers doesn’t address workers’ lack of capacity to engage with them to avoid underlying issues.

We’re not confident the leadership change will fix the issues workers keep raising like retention, workloads and communication and we’re worried about unsafe caseloads that still exist in some areas of the service, particularly out of home care.

We’ll keep addressing the concerns you raise and working to make sure essential service areas are properly designed and resourced, so they can keep kids safe and support struggling parents. That means workers must be looked after too.


The bell tolls for a dispute in finance and procurement

For well over four years workers in the finance and procurement areas, including business managers, have been dealing with a change proposal that never comes.

Just last week we were told by email that an arbitrary decision had been made to extend two interim Band 8 business manager positions until the end of July.

We weren’t contacted to discuss this or asked to give feedback on behalf of our members, or simply as a party to the award as we normally would when the award is being complied with.

We’ve made it clear we don’t agree with the extension of so-called interim positions as we want all established vacancies and fixed-term appointments filled permanently. We need to see a change proposal if the agency is proposing change and we demand the bosses to talk to us and to the people who actually hold all the important information - the workers.

Finance workers have been patient to the extreme, but the time for waiting is done. We’ll be lodging a dispute if we don’t hear anything more in the coming days.

We also have some other concerns, and we’re pretty sure workers do too, so if you want to chat about this or organise a meeting in your area, please get in touch.


What’s going on with this travel allowance dispute at ambulance?    

For the past 20 years, Ambulance Tasmania have paid travel allowance to workers when they’re relocated to commence work at a different station. However, recently, despite there being no changes to the award, AT management have stopped paying travel allowances.

Paramedics are not just going to another station nearby - it could be hundreds of kilometres away. It means a Devonport paramedic can be sent to Zeehan for a day shift and be expected to travel in their own time, complete the 11.5-hour shift, return in their own time, and pay for their own fuel without any compensation.

This is not fair at all, but to add insult to injury, the Minister’s office then threatened that all previous payments for this travel would need to be paid back.

Ambulance staff are right to be aggravated by this clearly aggressive and inexplicably over the top approach, and now the Minister has withdrawn the backpay threat but doubled down that TA payments aren’t required.

We have demanded the bosses start paying the travel allowance again.

HACSU members are currently not agreeing to relocate away from their normal home station without compensation and this has seen various regional areas left without adequate ambulance service. It’s unacceptable for this dangerous situation to exist just for the sake of saving a few bucks.

Going after workers is no way to find a bit of extra revenue.


It’s been a year since COVID-19 hit Tassie

Tasmania’s first COVID-19 case came up in Launceston in March 2020 and from that moment, the virus led to rapid changes for all public sector workers especially those in the major public hospitals.

During the early stages of the pandemic, workers had many concerns. It was and always will be our priority to ensure every one of our members is safe. That’s why we quickly jumped into action to ensure these and more:

•  Extending our HACSUassist services including the 2020 Easter period when the north west went into full lockdown

•  Assist organisers answered hundreds of calls about the JobKeeper payment, working from home, PPE, physical distancing, leave entitlements and general workplace health and safety concerns

•  Worksite organisers speaking to loads of managers about PPE, cleaning processes, carer’s leave and pandemic leave provisions

•  Installation of all safety screens in a range of areas

•  Paid pandemic leave and provisions for testing

•  Higher duties allowance for NWRH cleaners

•  Contracted hours for testing clinic workers

•  Doing our utmost to communicate and keep you informed on the ever-changing conditions for workers

•  Negotiating paid time off for vulnerable workers at the height of the pandemic

We’re always ready to fight for the rights, safety and livelihoods of all of our members, so if you need any info on safety and your rights at work, please contact us.


What’s the go with workers comp?

Most times you’re covered by workers compensation if you’re injured at work, but not everyone knows how important the first steps are in having a claim accepted by the insurer.

By following some basic guidelines, you can avoid some mistakes that are easy to make in the initial stages.

See your own doctor: This is critical. If an insurer challenges you, it will be the initial treating doctor that’s paramount as their report is often relied upon if that happens. Return to work plans are also based on their report.

Fill out an incident report as soon as possible: Do this as soon as you can after an incident, making sure you name any witnesses to the event if there are any. It helps if witnesses provide a written or verbal testimony at this early stage. Legislation says incident reports must be lodged as soon as is practicable.

Keep copies: Keep copies of all correspondence relating to your injury including medical certificates, emails from your employer and insurer and notes of any phone conversations you may have relating to the injury.

Have a support person: Do not go and speak to your employer about your injury without a support person present.

Have all consultations alone: You’ll be assigned a return to work coordinator to help with your claim and work out a return to work plan. Often, their only concern is getting you back to work fast rather than rehabilitation of your injury. When attending medical appointments for your injury, do so alone. You only need to contact your return to work coordinator to discuss work arrangements with you and your doctor after your doctor, physio or surgeon has done their assessment. It’s your body and your right to privacy.

Record any claim-associated costs: Keep all receipts associated with your claim for reimbursement including petrol, taxis, medications, braces, and anything that relates to your claim. Check with insurers about travel claims as they may require the doctor to sign off on each appointment.

Ask for help: If you’re struggling to cope with the stress associated with a compensation claim, there are a number of avenues available to help you, so please just ask.

By following these basic guidelines, you’ll increase your chances of a smooth and speedy transition from injury to claim to your return to work.


Inform is your magazine

Inform is your union’s official magazine, and the summer issue contains hundreds of member and event photos, editorials, useful information, campaign news, delegate and staff profiles and member benefits.

Meet some of your delegates and get info about unfair dismissals, change proposals, long service and annual leave and workplace health & safety. Find out why social issues really are union issues. Check out some HACSU holiday homes and much more…

Click here to read it now!  

HACSU represents you, HACSU supports you

Thanks for the amazing work you’re doing to support our community.

Feel free to contact HACSUassist between 8am and 6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 5pm on Fridays, about anything in this newsletter or any other concern, however small you feel your issue might be.

Be strong, take care and stay safe - we’re proud to represent you.

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

Public Sector