Submissions

Publications/Submissions/Taskforces and Advisory Groups

The HWU has made numerous submissions to both federal and state governments as well as to the Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to improve the pay and working conditions of our members and other workers. We have also attended numerous Taskforces and Advisory groups so that we can lobby government/make sure our members voices can be heard at the highest levels of Government.

Lobbying government at these levels is important because politicians and bureaucrats need to hear the views of our members prior to them enacting any new laws which could affect all of us. The HWU plans on continuing to represent our members at every level of government!

Recent submissions by the Health Workers Union include:

Portable long Service Leave

Long Service Leave was a revolutionary Australian invention. Australian trade unions have fought hard to keep it and over the years have ensured that all Australian workers are entitled to it.  

Unfortunately, due to the use of insecure employment practices within Australia’s health sector and the transient nature of the workforce, only 1 in 4 Australian health workers (including Pathology workers) end up qualifying for Long Service Leave. The HWU recommends that either a state based or National Portable Long Service Leave (NPLSL) scheme is developed for Australian health workers.

In an attempt to secure Portable Long Service Leave for our members, the HWU made two submissions to government in 2015. The first was made to the Victorian Government’s Economic, Education, Jobs & Skills Committee inquiry into the portability of long service leave entitlements. The second submission was made to the Federal Senate Education and Employment Committee’s Inquiry into the Creation of a National Portable Long Service Leave Scheme 2015.

In October 2015, our Assistant Secretary (David Eden) and Research Officer (Kamal Bekhazi) were invited (as expert witnesses) to provide an oral submission to the Victorian Government’s Economic, Education, Jobs & Skills Committee inquiry into the portability of long service leave entitlements.

The Victorian government finally tabled its report into a Victorian PLSL in mid-June 2016. The Committee made a number of conclusions recommending a PLSL scheme for security and cleaning workers.

With regard to the community services sector, the Committee acknowledged that workers in this sector are also vulnerable to missing out on their long service leave entitlements. Consequently, the Committee found that there is merit in introducing a portable long service leave scheme for the sector. 

The Victorian Government has six months (from when they tabled the report) to respond to the PLSL Committees recommendations. We hope that they extend the benefits of a state PLSL scheme to all health workers including Pathology workers. 

Victorian inquiry into portability of long service leave entitlements - HWU Witness Statements - HANSARD transcript

Submission to Victorian Government inquiry into portability of long service leave entitlements 2015 final report

An Update on Victoria’s Portable Long Service Leave Scheme

The Health Workers Union, Australian Workers Union, The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Transport Workers Union have made a joint submission (through The Victorian Trades Hall Council) to Acil Allen Consulting.  The report is titled “Submission to Portable Long Service Leave Design Study for the Victorian Contract Cleaning and Security Industries”.

To read the full submission please click on the report title in the submission list above.

The Victorian Government has accepted the recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee on the introduction of Portable Long Service Leave in the community services, security and contract cleaning industries.

Be begin with, Acil Allen Consulting has been contracted by the Victorian government to undertake a feasibility study of a portable long service leave scheme specifically for contract cleaners and security guards.

Acil Allen Consulting released an issues paper for stakeholders. The issues paper was designed to explore what type of PLSL model is the best for Victoria’s contract cleaners and security guards.

HWU representatives recently met with Jerome Fahrer from Acil Allen Consulting at Victorian Trades Hall Council. We discussed a number of issues relevant to the establishment of a PLSL scheme. Some of the areas explored included the following:

  • Preferred scheme model
  • Definitions of contract cleaners and security guards
  • Rates of pay, calculations of percentages for a PLSL scheme
  • Estimation of how many contract cleaners and security guards are in the health sector

The Health Workers Union, Australian Workers Union, The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Transport Workers Union have made a joint submission (through The Victorian Trades Hall Council) to Acil Allen Consulting.  The report is titled “Submission to Portable Long Service Leave Design Study for the Victorian Contract Cleaning and Security Industries”.

In addition to the above feasibility study, the Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins office has indicated that in the first half of this year the government will be undertaking an entirely separate actuarial study on portable long service leave in the social and community services sector.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins

“Long service leave arrangements should meet the needs of our modern workplaces – that’s why we’re taking the steps necessary to look after workers and make sure they’re not short changed.”

“The sad reality is due to the nature of some workplaces, some workers are not eligible for long service leave. We need to work towards a better and fairer system.”

The above quote was sourced from the Webpage of the Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP.


Australia’s future Aged Care Workforce requirements

Official Committee Hansard SENATE COMMUNITY AFFAIRS REFERENCES COMMITTEE Future of Australia's aged-care sector workforce THURSDAY, 28 APRIL 2016 MELBOURNE

Australia’s treatment of its older citizens has improved significantly since the 1900’s. Australia’s first national Old Age Pension payments were made in 1909. From 1909 to 1963 the Australian government made payments to Benevolent Asylums caring for older Australians as a substitute for the Age pension. However, the costs of aged care significantly increased during the aforementioned period forcing the Government to directly fund aged care.

At present, the qualifying age for the aged pension is 65 years of age and it has been progressively raised- those born after the 1st January 1957 must reach the age of 67 before qualifying for an Australian Age pension. Successive governments have used statistics that predict the number of Australian’s reaching the age of 65 years will almost double in the next 40 years (to about 25 per cent of the population) as a pretext for increasing the age pension qualifying age and introducing new taxes or making changes to Medicare.

The HWU believes that it is important for the government, age care sector, unions, families and other stake holders to work together to reform our aged care system. Many OECD nations have taken the lead in restructuring their age care system and focused on training their current aged care workforce using best practise guidelines as well as retaining staff and recruiting new workers into this very important healthcare sector.

 In Australia, the Commonwealth government has a substantial role in national policy making, but tends to fund rather than deliver health care services through Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, aged care subsidies and subsidies for private health insurance premiums (Department of Health & Human Services, 2015). The Victorian Health 2040 Discussion paper stated that “Australia is missing an opportunity to have a world-class health system due to the incremental, siloed approach to national health reform that fails to look at the health system as a whole” (Department of Health & Human Services, 2015, pg. 10).

We recommend mandatory minimum Resident to Care Worker ratios within public, private and Not-for-profit residential aged care facilities. We believe that the following recommendations will substantially increase the quality of care that residents receive and allow care workers to work within a safe environment where they are able to practice their profession of caring without fear of injury or assault. 

Morning Shift

One Care Worker for every six residents in addition to Nursing staff.

Afternoon Shift

One Care Worker for every seven residents in addition to Nursing staff.

Night Shift

One Care Worker for every fifteen residents in addition to Nursing staff.

How can we improve our Aged Care Sector?

In order to improve the pay and working conditions of our members that work within the aged care sector and to improve the quality of care delivered to older Australian’s, the HWU made a submission to the Federal Senate Inquiry into Australia’s future aged care workforce in 2016.

On Thursday 28th April 2016 our Assistant Secretary (David Eden) and Research Officer (Kamal Bekhazi) were invited (as expert witnesses) to provide an oral submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee examining the future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce. The Senate continues to hold hearings after a brief pause during the last Federal election and will deliver their finding in the near future.

NDIS and Victoria’s Disability Sector

Most recently, HWU representatives attended the Victorian Government’s NDIS Workforce Implementation Taskforce (from early 2016-2-17). We have decided to attend this taskforce because the NDIS must be implemented or rolled out across Victoria correctly and fairly. In fact, the NDIS is the biggest change to government benefits since Medicare, costing Australia $22 billion a year nationally!

The HWU believes that it is important for the government, disability sector, unions, families and other stake holders to work together to reform our disability support system. Many OECD nations have taken the lead in restructuring their disability care system and focused on training their current disability care workforce using best practise guidelines as well as retaining staff and recruiting new workers into this very important healthcare sector. In Australia, the Commonwealth government has a substantial role in national policy making, but tends to fund rather than deliver health care services through Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, disability care subsidies and subsidies for private health insurance premiums (Department of Health & Human Services, 2015). The Victorian Health 2040 Discussion paper stated that “Australia is missing an opportunity to have a world-class health system due to the incremental, siloed approach to national health reform that fails to look at the health system as a whole” (Department of Health & Human Services, 2015, pg. 10).

Many of our disability support workers have tripped in residential units or cabins and sustained injuries, have been assaulted by patients or consumers and in some instances sustained serious injuries. We believe that OH&S matters are serious and must be placed on the agenda and given considerable time for discussion in the NDIS Implementation Taskforce Workforce Development & Transition Working Group and included in any subsequent discussion or consultation papers.

The NDIS Implementation Taskforce Workforce Development & Transition Working Group must not shy away from the difficult task of defining what constitutes a residential facility. It is particularly important to resolve this matter and others given that much of the disability support will be occurring within the homes of patients and the homes of smaller NDIS providers in the not too distant future.

Other taskforces and Advisory Groups attended by HWU officials

Health Workers Union representatives have attended the Victorian Government’s Bullying and Harassment in Healthcare Advisory Group meeting set up to address the entrenched culture of Bullying and Harassment within Victoria’s Public Health Services (from 2016-2017).

HWU representatives have also attended the Work-Safe Health Services Stakeholder Working Group, Work-Safe Advisory Group into Occupational Violence and Aggression within the health sector, DHS Violence in Healthcare Taskforce, the Victorian Skills Commissioners Community Services and Health Industry Advisory Group, the ACTU and Victorian Trades Hall executive meetings and many other government and community taskforces.

We will continue to make Submissions to government and others

The HWU plans to continue to make submissions to government, the DHS and others as well as attend important taskforces and working groups with the aim of improving the working conditions of our members.