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 naïve enough to think some of those solutions will come without fighting for them. With another recent COVID scare and ongoing resourcing pressures, we’re committed to working with our members to achieve sustainable and positive change for workers and the wider community.
Vaccine direction deadline approaches
Don’t forget: all workers in medical or health facilities need to be vaccinated against COVID-19or be booked in to do so by the end of October 2021. That covers all DoH employees and includes contractors and students on placement, registration and/or internships in clinical settings.
Health care settings include public hospitals, public health clinics, ambulance services, patient transport services and other health services. In addition, private health facilities, day procedure centres or specialist outpatient services, general practitioners, private nurse offices and pharmacies.
People who provide health and medical services and treatments outside of these settings must be vaccinated to be able to continue to provide these services. There is also a list of certain health professionals.
Check the list here: coronavirus.tas.gov.au/business-and-employees/health-care-settings
We are still seeking further advice on redeployment for those with an exemption and we have real and ongoing concerns about all workers getting adequate access to the vaccine before 31 October. We are still also working through which workers who may be not expressly covered, but will be captured by the order because they do some work in a health care setting.
If you have questions concerns about this update, please contact us at HACSUassist on 1300880 032 or email us at email@example.com
Mental Health teams still under pressure, but we’re getting there
As most people are aware, there are significant challenges in mental health, particularly in the community teams. Whilst recruitment issues continue to be an ever-present challenge, some of the transitions occurring as part of the reform are causing more issues for HACSU members and their services.
In the last few weeks, we’ve taken up the significant issues being caused by untriaged referrals from the Mental Health Helpline with Community Mental Health Services across the northwest, and we’ve had some movement from them. We told SMHS Executive that the current situation was impacting members’ ability to see clients who most needed their assistance and that if it wasn’t addressed, we would be escalating action across the services.
We are pleased that SMHS have now committed to additional resources for the helpline starting now. This should alleviate some of the root causes of the increase in referrals. Importantly, they’ve also committed to new triage and assessment positions for the north west, based in the north west. These positions will be fast-tracked and will provide more assistance on the ground.
We know this won’t address all the concerns raised but it’s definitely a positive development –well done to mental health workers for sticking together and winning change. We are keen to have further input as the reform is rolled out and we’re keen to hear about issues that need addressing now.
Changes to timesheets should be discussed, no exceptions
Lately we have had numerous reports, particularly in THS, about unit managers changing workers’ timesheets before they’re sent to payroll to be processed. Whilst there may be limited times where a manager makes a legitimate adjustment without consultation, that would only be in very rare circumstances (for example, if you were absent on personal leave on the last day of the pay cycle).
Where you have overtime hours removed or other things amended on your timesheet, your manager must consult with you about it. Any changes to your timesheet without discussion are totally unacceptable and disrespectful to the worker who had completed the timesheet.
If this is an issue for you or you want more information, please contact HACSUassist.
State of Palliative Care Symposium
Palliative Care Tasmania is holding a palliative care symposium next month and they would love to see as many health and community workers there as possible, especially if you work in or have an interest in palliative care or end of life more generally. The Symposium is on 23 November and will be held at the C3Convention Centre, Hobart. There is also an option to attend virtually.
A line up of state and national experts will be delivering presentations on:
• Palliative care workforce research, data and insights
• Aged care
• Unpaid palliative care support and carers
• Future focus – what is ahead with the Tasmanian healthcare reform
You can visit the PCT website to see further details on the event, speakers and registration.
COVID-19 vaccine no fault injury scheme
The Federal Government has recently announced a no-fault indemnity scheme for COVID-19vaccination. The full details of the scheme are still being finalised but here is what we know so far:
• The scheme became accessible on Monday 6September and claims can be backdated to 21 February when the vaccine rollout officially commenced
• It covers 3 serious adverse events: thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome associated with AstraZeneca, and myocarditis and pericarditis arising from Pfizer
o It will likely cover any applicable serious events associated with future TGA approved vaccines, but will not cover events from non-TGA approved vaccines
• It indemnifies practitioners that administer the vaccination, where it is followed by one of these serious events
• For claimants, it is designed to streamline the process and avoid complex legal proceedings
• For those who suffer a serious event following COVID-19 vaccination, the scheme will cover costs of injuries from$5,000 and above
o Between $5,000 and $20,000 claimants need to provide evidence of: a) The nature of the injury and medical documentation of its likely relationship to a COVID-19 vaccination; b) Hospitalisation, due to a vaccine-related injury of at least one night; c) Medical costs; d) Lost wages
No cap on compensation has been announced, but it would be safe to assume there is one.
The scheme has so far been developed in consultation with select medical practitioners, insurance companies and business groups. Our union’s national office has written to Ministers Hunt and Cash requesting that we be included in further consultations, particularly as the details are still being developed and we have members administering the vaccination and who are subject to vaccine mandates.
We’ll keep you updated as more information comes to hand.
Public Sector Unions Wages Agreement
It’s creeping up to that time again. Public sector workers in health have a wages agreement that will expire at the end of this year. We’ll be out and about in about a month to talk to workers about what’s really important for you in the upcoming round of negotiations. It would be good if you could have a think about what the thing is that you most want to change or improve about your work. For more information, please contact HACSUassist.
Real poker machine reform: an honest fool’s dream
For some time HACSU has been pressing both major political parties on what they intend to do to limit the harm inflicted on our communities, individuals and their families as a result of pokie addictions.
Various social and community services organisations including HACSU have been heavily lobbying the Labor Party to introduce strong measures to reduce harm. It was only last Monday that the Opposition (Labor) outlined their position on what measures they would adopt when Premier Gutwein introduced his Bill to the Tasmanian Parliament and, in essence, Labor’s position was almost completely identical to that of the Liberals.
Passage of the Bill through Parliament now relies on the members of the Legislative Council. Once a bill is approved by the Government in the Lower House, it’s then the Upper House’s job to scrutinise the legislation and either provide final approval or not.
The Government Bill, which now seems to be supported by Labor, does this:
• It is estimated that Federal Hotels will receive a tax cut of approximately $119 million over the next 20 years. That is, a massive $119M gift to Federal Hotels. This money could have been spent across the health and human services sectors.
• The bill will not include real harm minimisation measures that really address problem gambling such as opening and closing times, slower spin speeds, maximum bet limits, etc.
• The only harm minimisation measures will be card-based playing and facial recognition software on machines. These initiatives, whilst useful, will detect only a small portion of problem gamblers. They are also supported by the industry, so we can be sure they will not make material change.
We know too well who it is that have to pick up the pieces which result from the harm caused by poker machine addiction, our members. HACSU’s State Secretary Tim Jacobson said this: “These machines kill people and ruin families and communities.”
Whilst the Tasmanian community voted at the 2018 election to keep poker machines in clubs and pubs, the community did not give Labor and the Liberals to team up and prevent proper measures to reduce harm.
To place an underline under pokie reform: the ABC has published an excellent story relating to the influence of poker machine owners on Australia’s political parties. It shows very clearly why the Labor Party has been so wedged up on this issue.
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.