NDIS: new research confirms risk

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A recently published report from University of Western Australia Professor David Gilchrist confirms the concerns of ASU members across the Community Mental Health sector – that unless the NDIS adjusts its pricing models, service providers are likely to collapse. The research is based on the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years and gives a worrying picture of the future of the disability sector under the NDIS. Many service providers are already struggling financially and unless significant changes are made to the funding model then they are likely to either collapse or exit the disability sector entirely. This is further evidence of what the ASU has been saying for some time - that under the current funding model the not-for-profit Community Mental Health sector in Victoria and the skilled and expert workforce that provide the services people rely on are in serious danger. You can find a summary of Professor Gilchrist’s report and request a copy here.
 

Victorian Government proposes Code of Conduct for all NDIS workers

In response to the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Abuse in Disability Services May 2016 the Victorian government has proposed a Code of Conduct that will apply to workers in Department of Human Services funded, delivered, contracted and registered disability services. The DHHS has recently consulted with the ASU about this proposed clause and we have suggested a number of amendments. We know that ASU members are committed to providing care and support for clients in an environment that is free from any form of abuse. However, we also know that workers can be work with difficult and potentially violent clients with little to no support from their employer, and are hung out to dry when something goes wrong. We want to make sure that any Code of Conduct respects the rights and responsibilities of workers, as well as clients, and that it is clear that the obligation to provide a safe workplace rests with the employer.

ASU membership in Homelessness & Housing on the rise

We’ve all heard the rhetoric in the mainstream media and from the mouths of conservative politicians and commentators telling us that union membership is going down and the union movement is no longer relevant and the sky is falling and so on.

While union membership may be declining in some areas (often due to job numbers dropping) clearly the fantastic workers in homelessness and housing services are keen to buck that trend!

In an analysis of ASU membership in Victorian homelessness and housing service providers in 2017 we have seen steady and strong growth.

Some of this has resulted from EBA campaigns within those services, though much of it can be attributed to increased union involvement in that area of the sector, and the great work of our fantastic ASU members and delegates who are out there every day talking to their co-workers about the importance of collective action.

Not only has membership in homelessness and housing services increased by around 7.3% since the start of 2017, but every month has seen a net increase of ASU members in those services, meaning this can’t be simply attributed to one or two factors skewing the results.  Nor is the increase a result of issues at a couple of workplaces, as new members joined us from over 20 different homelessness and housing service providers so far this year.

What does this mean?

While it’s always difficult to ascertain exact causes of sector-wide changes like this, we do know that increased demand for homelessness and housing services is causing a significant strain on those service providers, which inevitably flows on to the workers in their day-to-day jobs.

We also know that growing frustration amongst people accessing these vital services is leading to more concern amongst staff around the safety of their workplaces, which is an issue many employers are lagging to address.

When the Federal government seems so oblivious to the challenges facing this sector that they don’t even appoint a minister for homelessness to help deal with them, much less provide suitable funding increases to address growing demand, and employers have their hands full trying to make the most of an inadequate funding stream, it makes sense that workers within the sector will turn to one another, and their union, to help shine a light on key issues facing workers in their jobs.

If you want to find out more about this and other issues the ASU is involved with affecting your workplace come to the next ASU Homelessness & Housing Network meeting at the ASU Office in Carlton South at 12:30pm on Tuesday 17th October 2017, and join our Facebook group.

For more information call the ASU on 1300 855 570.

Marriage equality and the ASU

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The ASU is a proud supporter of marriage equality. When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Australia will participate in a postal plebiscite to gauge public opinion on the same-sex marriage debate the ASU  proudly stood up to show our unwavering support for marriage equality.

We have spent the past month making  t-shirts, attending actions, distributing posters and other campaign material  and urging members and others to vote yes in support of a major social change in Australian society. The ASU also put a call out to members and staff to come along and volunteer in phone banking. Members and staff showed up and committed their time to calling other ASU members and urging them to return their yes vote. The ASU phone banking is proving to be a huge success and we are really grateful to everyone who come along gave their time. If you want to get involved and support the ASU in our joint campaign for marriage equality please contact Ed Yap or Kristy Lee Tyrrell.

Water industry update

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ASU representing you in discussions with the Victorian State Government.

Gov Hubs

Discussions are ongoing between the State Government, ASU, and CPSU about the plans to relocate Melbourne based workers to regional hubs in 2020. ASU members in Parks Victoria and VicRoads will be impacted by this.

We are currently negotiating the details of these moves, including the types of relocation packages that will be available, the redeployment process for staff who do not wish to relocate, and the types of packages available for staff who are not relocating and are not redeployed. Whilst many details are not yet finalised, we are please with the way these discussions are going and are confident of achieving a good outcome for members affected by this change.

Victorian Skills Commission review of Water Industry qualifications

The Skills Commission is currently reviewing training within the water industry, in order to find out which courses are relevant, and to identify any shortcomings in the training currently available. ASU are involved in this review, and we are keen to hear from any members who might wish to contribute or to be involved in the process. Please contact your Organiser Matt Price on the contacts below should you wish to provide feedback.

New State Government initiatives around Labour Hire and Long Service Leave

ASU has been consulted about some very positive initiatives by the Andrews Government on regulating the Labour Hire Industry, as well as reforming the Long Service Leave Act.

For too long, dodgy Labour Hire companies have been able to operate outside the rules, and with little regulation. The Turnbull Government won't do anything about it, so the Victorian Government is establishing a new body to regulate this industry. The Labour Hire Registration Scheme will see the establishment of a new statutory authority, headed by a commissioner. All Labour Hire firms operating within Victoria will be required to register with the new authority annually. Registration will only be granted where Labour Hire firms can show that they are compliant with all relevant employment laws, and the new authority will have the power to issue significant penalties to firms who do not comply. Legislation to create this new authority is currently being drafted, and has not yet been before Parliament.

A new bill that will replace the existing Long Service Act is before the Parliament. If it passes, the new bill will modernise the LSL system. Key changes include increased continuity of service during parental leave, all paid leave will now count as service, unpaid leave will not break continuity of service, and the concept of 'pro rata' will be scrapped, with proportionate entitlements available after 7 years without restriction.

Note - these changes will only apply if your LSL entitlement comes from the existing State Long Service Leave Act.

For further information: please contact ASU Organiser Matt Price.

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