ASU members at the Berry Street Clarkson Unit work with statutory clients – in a residential unit setting.
They work with some of the most vulnerable and potentially traumatised service users in our industry.
No matter what part of the industry you work in, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 is clear; employers have a duty of care to provide and maintain a safe working environment for employees.
ASU delegates and members based at the Clarkson unit recently were aware that Berry Street was failing in its duty to address serious OHS issues. These issues included the inappropriate placement of a young person in the unit who was responsible for two assaults on staff and a home invasion, leaving a serious psychological impact on staff. Additionally, it highlighted a range of security issues.
ASU members and their delegate made multiple attempts to have Berry Street remedy these OH&S issues. However, Berry Street failed to address the concerns promptly and provided little communication and support to these front-line workers.
At a meeting called by ASU members, they all worked with an ASU Organiser to develop a strategy to get the ongoing staff safety issues urgently addressed.
The members agreed to escalate the issues to the Regional Executive and HR Manager, and the ASU wrote to Berry Street formalising the matter on behalf of members.
The activism of ASU members at Berry Street, with the support of an ASU organiser, made the difference.
Just hours after we made contact with Berry Street about the serious OHS issues, Berry Street implemented the safety measures requested by ASU members. Berry Street also agreed to provide regular communication about further agreed steps being taken.
The safety measures ASU members demanded have included building modifications, having new doors and security locks installed and ensuring all staff have up to date training.
And in an important win, there will be two staff rostered on the overnight shifts until these steps are implemented.
This vital win has seen ASU members feeling safer at work and confident they can raise OHS issues through their delegate and Organiser