Public sector newsletter

Posted on
September 7, 2020
Public Sector

Your sector update.

As the pandemic response continues to evolve and things in other jurisdictions remain unstable, we are still working hard to make sure our members are supported and represented. We are continuing to lobby the state and federal governments hard to ensure you that workers are at the forefront of plans for the recovery.


Mersey Hospital DEM closure extended 

The Department of Health have told us operating hours of the MCH emergency department will be reduced, once again, due to an inability to recruit and retain medical officers.
The latest information is that hours of operation will be 8am – 6pm, so emergencies outside these hours from the wider area will have to be diverted to Burnie or Launceston, but we all know you have your own issues without additional demands, particularly on the emergency departments.
Tasmania’s only had a couple of COVID-19 cases in the last two months and no outbreaks to manage, but things can change fast as we’ve seen interstate so it’s worrying that the capacity of the public health service to respond today-to-day demand is being significantly reduced.
While the decision, based on staff and patient safety is probably sound, the real issue here is that the government knew about the issue with medical staffing of the Mersey ED well before the pandemic and did nothing about it.They have now been caught out now.
What is the plan to manage an actual health crisis?  What is the plan if there’s another COVID-19 outbreak? And, more importantly, what exactly are they doing to return Mersey to 24 hour ED operations?
HACSU members work hard every day to ensure patients get the best care and services they can and it’s time that these ongoing, known issues are dealt with once and for all. We continue to push the state government and THS for real answers about the future of the Mersey ED and the broader hospital.

If you notice that there is an increase in work or things are made worse because of additional presentations, please contact HACSUassist.


Working from home 

Recently we have had some contact from members regarding working from home.
Following the easing of restrictions at the end of June, most workers would have begun at least the transition to working back at the normal place of work. But if we’ve learned anything from the response to the pandemic, it is that all sorts of arrangements can be productive for both workers and their employers.
Whilst there is no specific barriers to working from home, in most cases it will need to be approved by your manager. But they may be any number of reasons that you want to try and discuss an arrangement that works for everyone.
Clearly some jobs just can’t be done from home, but if there’s a compassionate reason or you can be more productive and you follow the guidelines, there should be no real barrier to you working from home for at least some of your time.
If you would like to discuss further or you have concerns regarding working from home please contact HACSUassist or your organiser. 


AHP survey closing soon 

We recently asked AHPs to tell us what their thoughts and concerns are in a comprehensive survey. We’re keen to get issues identified because it’s just over a year before we’re meant to commence bargaining for your next agreement.
We’ve had a really good response so far but the more input the better the results so we’re still keen to hear from you if you’re an AHP and you haven’t yet done the survey.
The survey should only take 15-20 minutes and your input will be instrumental in bargaining for better conditions for AHPs going forward. 

We really want to hear from you and your colleagues, so please send it around. We want input from all AHPs – whether HACSU members or not. 

The survey will close on Monday 14 September. 

Your individual responses will be de-identified and kept anonymous, but we will let you know the overall results once they’re collated. 


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service review 

Last week we were invited to a presentation about the review of CAMHS which is part of the wider mental health reform process that is currently underway.
The objective of the review is to “enable an integrated pathway for children and adolescents and their families and carers to navigate the mental health system”.
Two things requested from the review were:
1) A comprehensive report outlining the review of the CAMHS service system.
2) The development of recommendations regarding Tasmanian CAMHS.

That report has now been produced and is in draft form, and it provides recommendations for reforms in who CAMHS sees as core business, what are the processes and procedures and recommends really marked reform in CAMHS stakeholder engagement.

The report notes that to move towards new consumer groups the service system needs to significantly expand, become more layered and add on a range of non-clinic-based services.

Significant investment in both funding and leadership is required to action these reforms.
The plan is for the consultation to continue with stakeholders whilst the department makes decisions relating to what changes will be made from the review report. 


Special Pandemic Leave 

We continue to have concerns raised relating to advice being provided in relation to special pandemic leave. Ultimately, workers have been directed to be absent from the workplace until they return a negative COVID-19 test.
Our position has been clear and consistent since the declaration of the pandemic. If a worker is directed to stay away from the workplace as a precautionary measure, then that worker is eligible for special pandemic leave. This includes if a worker presents for work as normal and is precluded due to screening. It would be a serious risk and a clear retrograde step if workers have an incentive to not be entirely honest during screening.
The other factors relating to SPL are as follows: 

  • If you are directed to self-isolate or stay away from the workplace, you will be paid your regular salary without using your leave entitlements.
  • If you are required to provide emergency support to children or a member of your household, you will be required to use your own personal leave entitlements. If you do not have a sufficient balance or you run out of personal leave, the agencies will accept an application for special pandemic leave.
  • If you are unwell, including if you contract COVID-19, you will be required to use your own personal leave entitlements. If you do not have a sufficient balance or     you run out of personal leave, the agencies will accept an application for special pandemic leave. Remember, you can make a claim for workers compensation if you contract any illness in the course of your duties, including COVID-19.
  • If you are a casual or sessional worker and you are asked to self-isolate or stay away from the workplace, you will be paid for any shift you had already accepted and the agencies will accept an application for special pandemic leave.
  • Payment for special pandemic leave will be your normal rate of pay and for casuals it will be based on regular hours (for casuals who work regular and systematic    hours), or based on an average of the last two pay periods or based on the two pay periods that occurred prior to the declaration of a pandemic.

HACSU will continue to fight for arrangements to protect workers, especially health and community workers, who should not be disadvantaged by the pandemic.


State Service review 

The State Government has announced that they now intend to fast track a review of the Tasmanian State Service announced prior to the pandemic.

We hold significant concerns that the review will be used to broadly privatise current services provided in the public sector to the private sector.

We all know now that the privatisation crusade by governments has been an abject failure and ultimately leads to higher costs and in most cases service reductions.

We are in the process of being consulted in relation to the review and will report to you once we know specifically where the Government intends to head.


HACSU supports you 

Thanks for the amazing work you’re doing in this unprecedented and rapidly changing environment.
Feel free to contact HACSUassist between 8am and 6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am– 5pm on Fridays, about anything in this newsletter or any other issue you have, regardless of how 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