Here’s your update on Tasmanian public sector and agency issues and other things relating to broader public sector and union campaigns. With our border about to open, recent COVID scares, and ongoing resourcing pressures we’re committed to working with you and all members to achieve sustainable and positive change for workers and communities.
Border opening readiness
Our border opens on 15 December so we’ve been talking with the department to better understand their plans for the next phase of our pandemic journey, and the government has released modelling on what may occur which you can read here.
We’ve also been discussing the preparedness of hospitals and other health areas and are concerned extra demands will be difficult to manage given capacity constraints even without COVID active in the community. The latest on the government plan can be found here.
We’ve asked for more info about what happens if you or someone in your house gets COVID and whether current pandemic leave provisions will apply, and about working from home, being quarantined or isolated and what happens when the inevitable workforce issues arise.
Your direct supervisor should be talking to you about the updated safety plan for your work area. If that’s not happening, let us know. We’re also very interested to know if you’re being told you’ll be restricted from working somewhere else after December 15 – if so please get in touch.
We have regular briefings starting next week and we’ll pass on what we’re told.
Mental Health teams still under pressure but we’re getting there
We all know of the significant challenges in mental health, particularly in the community teams, with ongoing recruitment issues and some of the reform transitions causing further trouble for staff and services.
In the last few weeks, Community Mental Health Services across the north and northwest have had significant problems caused by untriaged referrals from the Mental Health Helpline.
Despite trying to alleviate the concerns at the helpline, members were forced to act by sending untriaged referrals elsewhere so they could continue to treat and service their existing clients.
We’re concerned the issues remain unabated, and our members will continue to campaign and engage in measures that keep them and their patients and clients safe.
We hope that until the reform for Mental Health Services is rolled out properly, some interim measures can be put in place to address some of these long-running, intolerable issues.
We’re keen to have further input as the reform rolls out and want to hear from you about issues that need addressing now.
Allied Health Professionals – defining professions and your agreement
AHP members should have received info about the definition of Allied Health that will require feedback, and we want as many of AHPs as possible to have a say.
The Department of Health and DCT and other agencies want to understand the changes to allied health, especially since AHPRA registration requirements, and whether all the jobs currently included in the AHP agreement are properly suited to be described as Allied Health Professional as we know a range of jobs and other included professions don’t necessarily meet a consistent definition.
We’ll be providing some feedback from the union’s perspective, and we encourage everyone to have their say.
The AHP Sub-branch Executive will meet soon to finalise a log of claims for the upcoming AHP Agreement negotiations, and we hope a draft can be distributed for member feedback before Christmas.
COVID-19vaccine no fault injury scheme
The federal government recently announced a no-fault indemnity scheme for COVID-19vaccination and, while full details are still being finalised, here’s what we know so far:
• The scheme became accessible on Monday 6September and claims can be backdated to 21 February 2021 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. 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 who administer the vaccination, where it is followed by one of those serious events.
• For claimants, it’s 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$5000 and above. Between $5000 and $20,000 claimants must provide evidence of the injury and medical documentation of its likely relationship to a COVID-19vaccination; hospitalisation due to a vaccine-related injury of at least 1night; medical costs and/or lost wages.
• Evidence requirements for claims $20,000 and above and claims relating to death are still being finalised.
• Claims relating to a death will not require evidence of hospitalisation, and next of kin can claim based on nervous shock and/or economic loss.
No cap on compensation has been announced, but it’d be safe to assume there is one.
The scheme has been developed only in consultation with select medical practitioners, insurance companies and business groups, so your national HACSU office has written to Ministers Hunt and Cash requesting we be included in future, 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 info comes to hand.
OTs meet with the health minister
HACSU members Helen Titmuss, Jodie Sullivan and Rachel Riley met with Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff and Narelle from his office at HACSU HQ in Launceston last week to discuss solutions to the long-running resourcing issues in occupational therapy particularly in the north.
They wanted to hear from those on the front line and listened to the issues our members face every day and the need for a dedicated, modern strategy and campaign that targets recruitment and retention and increases establishment OT numbers in all areas, including mental health.
The discussion focused on what solutions are likely in the short and long term – it’s great the health minister isn’t frightened to talk directly to his workers and we thank him for doing so – and we’ll continue to campaign in the community and share the stories of our members until we get the resources Tasmania deserves.
Public Sector Union Wages Agreement
Yep, it’s creeping up on us again. Public sector workers in health have a wages agreement that expires at the end of this year and in a month or so we’ll be out and about talking about what’s important to you in the upcoming negotiations so it’d be good if you could have a think about what you want to change or improve about your work.
Inform is your magazine
Inform is your union's official magazine, and the winter/spring issue is out now. It’s packed with photos of members and events and plenty of useful, interesting articles.
Get to know some of your delegates, meet new HACSU staff, get campaign updates and read some valuable info about workplace issues including diversity, superannuation, casual work, age discrimination and sexual harassment legislation changes. Click here to read it now!
We represent you, we support 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.