CSYW: MOG, ACC, arbitration and more

Posted on December 14, 2020

At last week’s ACC (see below for further updates), we were advised that the Department’s Machinery of Government (MoG) Committee will meet for the first time later this week. While MoG changes are not subject to the same consultation processes that other organisational change is, the Department has indicated that they would like to proceed through the implementation of the MoG changes in a collaborative and communicative way.

For those CSYW members moving in to the Departments of Justice & Attorney General or Environment and Science, we hope it is a smooth transition and wish you well. If you have any questions about your new agency, such as who your local delegates or organiser may be, please get in contact with us or email your.union@together.org.au    

Agency Consultative Committee

Last week, delegates met with Departmental representatives for our last ACC of the year. Thank you Doug, Lucy & Lucia for representing members at this meeting. Please see below for some brief updates about what was discussed:-

Placement System Challenges: members raised their significant concerns – both industrial – and practice-related – regarding the pressures on the placement system and the subsequent impacts on clients and workers. The Department advises that the placement system is a high priority for 2021, and is part of every key discussion and piece of planning that is occurring. We understand that the Office of the Chief Practitioner is working on matters around the NDIS, as well as looking at foster care recruitment and kinship care arrangements, in order to try to relieve pressure on the system. In the short term, where there are ‘easy’ fixes – such as ensuring that facilities like air-conditioning are able to be overridden if staff and young people are staying late in offices – they should be applied without reservation. This will, of course, be an ongoing discussion and members should contact us on csyw@together.org.au if you have concerns or questions.

Investment & Partnerships/Calcutta Review: members sought an update from the Department regarding the implementation of the Calcutta Review from earlier this year. The Department advised that, while the MoG and its impacts on I&P had somewhat superseded the implementation of the Calcutta Review recommendations, they would still be used to contextualise what the I&P area will look like, post-MoG. The Department says they are conscious of workload and resourcing, key factors identified in the Calcutta Review, as part of that process. The Department had engaged the Queensland Treasury Corporation to look at out-of-home care investment and expect this to be relevant in the lead up to the next state budget. The Department also noted they were pleased to see a sector-wide refocusing on outcomes, rather than outputs, in the Budget generally. As per the stated focus on the placement system, within commissioning this too will be a focus. We will continue following this up with the Department to ensure that any changes are done in consultation with affected members.

Child Safety Workload Management Manual (WMM): this was the first ACC where we were provided data by the Department regarding the number of workload escalations in line with the WMM (albeit only for South West region). There were a number of CSOs whose workload was found to be above the agreed reasonable weighting, and these instances were not able to be resolved within the Region. Delegates will be looking at the data over the next couple of weeks to see how we can best use it to assist members in resolving workload issues that seemingly cannot be solved at a local or regional level. Needless to say, as part of our arbitration proceedings we are seeking stronger protections around reasonable workloads, as we remain concerned about the ability to resolve workload issues through the WMM.

Regional Resource Reallocation: as members would know, every six or twelve months, Regions will assess their resources and, where necessary, reallocate positions to another worksite with higher demands. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that staff will be transferred to another worksite. Together delegates are concerned that there is a general lack of guidance around this process, particularly where there are no ‘volunteers’ to move with a position to another worksite and, in some instances, this is leading to lengthy delays. The Department committed to working with Together representatives to document what the expectations of transfer processes are for employees.

Temporary Contracts: as we know, there are far too many Child Safety staff on temporary contracts, and there are a lot of contracts that are due to cease at the end of the year or the very beginning of January. We have asked the Department to ensure that reasonable notice (at least 2 weeks) is provided to staff about their contracts during this period. If you or one of your co-workers are in a situation where you haven’t heard about the extension or cessation of a contract within 2 weeks of its end date, please do not hesitate to contact us so we can escalate the issue. Temporary staff give a lot to the Department, it’s only fair that they have the courtesy to provide you with enough notice about your employment, particularly at this time.

Papers were also tabled regarding Unify and P2i (Procure to Invest). As always, if you have any questions about the ACC please do not hesitate to contact us on csyw@together.org.au or by calling 1800 177 244.

Arbitration

This week, we will receive the evidence that the government will be relying on in our arbitration proceedings. We may be back in touch with members if we need to challenge certain assertions in the government’s evidence.

Thank you to the delegates and members who have been active in this process so far – the work you are doing is critical in putting forward our arguments for better workloads, classifications and work/life balance.

Hearings for the arbitration will be held in the second and third week of February. As a reminder, you can find our draft determination (what we are seeking through arbitration) here.

Higher Duties – transitional period ends today

In September of this year, Together members were successful in securing changes to legislation that covers the situation of members acting in higher duties.

The changes mean that members who have been acting in roles continuously for more than 12 months may request permanent appointment to that role. Importantly, members who have been acting in the role for more than 24 months can appeal a decision not to grant permanent appoint to the role.

If you have been acting in a higher duties role for 12 months or more you have until close of business today to request permanent appointment in your role as part of the transition to the new legislation rather than having to wait until your anniversary date.

Please contact your union office if you want more information or advice about applying for higher duties.

Season's Greetings – and farewell to 2020!

Finally, we wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a safe, festive and relaxing Christmas and New Years’ break if you are getting one! If you are working over this period – thank you.

2020 has been a challenging year across the board, and as essential workers you have continued to deliver services that are perhaps even more vital than ever before, under difficult circumstances. Your dedication to the children, young people, families and colleagues you work with is truly something to be commended.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2021!

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au