CSYW: Your EB, COVID-19 and other updates

Posted on March 18, 2020

Please see below for a number of updates on your EB, COVID-19 response and current media.

EB Update

This week, you will receive an update from the Department about the EB. This will be announcing the start of the 'access period' where you will be given access to the full EB document. Under Industrial Relations legislation, all staff who are covered by an EB are given the opportunity to vote in a ballot regarding the EB (after union members have given in-principle agreement, which Together members did in January). This ballot will commence two weeks from the access period beginning, and will run for a further two weeks.

Delegates have done excellent, intensive work over the start of this year to bring both a Workload Management Policy (WMP) and a Workload Management Manual (WMM) to life in a very thorough and detailed way. Thank you to your delegates – in particular Alan, Alexandra, Lucy & Vish – for their dedication and hard work in negotiating these complex matters. Their tenacity has meant that these documents are much improved and a significant step towards addressing workload issues.

The Workload Management Manual has a number of different aspects:

  • A 'trigger' (a caseload figure at which the WMM must be applied – noting that workers can ask for the WMM to be applied whenever they feel their workload is excessive, regardless of caseload figure);
  • A reasonable workload weighting range (which is calculated after looking at worker experience, intensity, and contextual factors);
  • An escalation process if workloads are in excess of what is reasonable; and,
  • Reporting to Consultative Committees about the application and use of the WMM.

As a reminder, the first piece of work was around Ongoing Intervention CSOs – the Manual will be expanded to other areas including I&A, Intake and Placement Services in Child Safety within a year from certification of the Agreement. Please be assured that experienced union delegates from across these work areas will be directly involved in the development of this Manual moving forward. For those members who work across multiple types of work/cases, the Manual will be able to account for this and ensure that you are able to assess what is a reasonable workload.

Last week, Minister Farmer intervened and has recommitted the Department to focusing on safe caseloads and workloads, which we all understand means a better level of service for the children and families that you work with. We would like to thank Minister Farmer for listening to Together members about how you can best protect at-risk children and families working with the Department – it has made a real difference.

The trigger points for mandatory application of the WMM for Ongoing Intervention CSOs are as follows:

2020 – 20

2021 – 18

2022 – the trigger point to apply from 1 September 2022 will be determined by a review completed prior to 1 September 2022, with the intent of decreasing the trigger point to 15 in line with Appendix 1 Clause 1.4 of the CSYJ Certified Agreement 2019.

These documents are currently being finalised and they will will be made available to all members shortly, if not at the same time as you are provided the draft EB documentation. Importantly, while the current documents focus on Ongoing Intervention CSOs, this will be extended to all other Child Safety workgroups within twelve months of the certification of the Agreement.

Of course, the EB also includes a range of other improvements and reviews for CSYW members. As a reminder, your annual wage increases will still be subject to arbitration. Here is a fact sheet regarding the wages aspect of your EB.

We know there is still more to be done when it comes to having safe and sustainable workloads across Child Safety (in addition to other issues to be resolved). In considering all options on the table, Steering Committee delegates believe that the progress we have made so far, and other opportunities that are part of this EB, means endorsing a 'yes' vote on this agreement is members' best option.

The one-off $1250 payment (pro rata and taxed) will be in your next pay (25 March). Your preview payslip may not reflect this as yet, but please be assured that we have confirmed this date with the Department.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions!

COVID-19 pandemic planning

You should have seen an email from your union yesterday regarding the Pandemic Directive. Understandably, there are a lot of questions about what this means for workers in essential service delivery areas like yours. We will be talking to the Department today and will provide further information afterwards. In the meantime, if you have any questions for us to ask the Department, please email them through to csyw@together.org.au  

Child Safety in the media

As you may be aware, the coronial inquest into a high-profile child protection case is currently underway. We know that whenever there is such public scrutiny on the Department, it can affect everyone. The work that you do in Child Safety is difficult but necessary, a fact that is not always treated respectfully in the media or public debate. Please take care of yourself during this time, and if you have any concerns please let us know.

Please remember, your health and safety should always be your first priority. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your union office on csyw@together.org.au or 1800 177 244 – we are here to help.

Thank you for the work that you do.

1800 177 244