Department of Health Consultative Forum Report Back

Posted on September 24, 2021

Recently Together delegates attended a Consultative Forum with management about a range of workplace issues. Here is a report from that meeting.

Organisational Change

In line with industrial obligations, the Department tabled and discussed a range of documentation related to organisational change processes.

In light of the over-arching Department of Health significant business case for change, which is now in Phase 2, there has been recent meetings with management about ensuring that only critical and emergent organisational change should progress, and that changes otherwise should be considered as part of Phase 2.  Queensland Health management have confirmed this arrangement with processes now in place to endorse emergent change.  If there is any other change occurring in your workplace without consultation, please contact one of your delegates or Together office.

Change processes discussed at the meeting included:

  • Department of Health – significant organisational change
  • Interim Public Health and COVID Response Division
  • eHealth Queensland – Children’s Digital Partnership Team
  • Corporate Services Division – Corporate Enterprise Solutions - IWFM Stage 3
  • Prevention Division – Forensic and Scientific Services – Forensic Chemistry – Police Services
  • Prevention Division - Monitored Medical Unit and Office of Medicinal Cannabis
  • Prevention Division – Pathology Queensland – roster changes at Gladstone and Townsville

There was agreement for additional discussion to occur between management and union representatives regarding a range of these change processes.  Where this is occurring, local delegates and organisers will link in with members to seek their input and provide feedback. 

Workload Management

In line with Queensland Health’s Workforce Workload Management Kit as well as related industrial clauses, members are able to submit workload management forms where there are unsafe workloads.  Where concerns are not able to be resolved locally, there is an escalation pathway that sees them tabled at the Departmental Health Consultative Forum.  Matters tabled at this meeting included workload concerns in the following areas:

  • Prevention Division – Pathology Queensland – Illicit Drug Laboratory
  • Prevention Division – Pathology Queensland - Molecular Diagnostics - Townsville
  • Prevention Division – Pathology Queensland - Gympie
  • Prevention Division – Biomedical Technology Services – Central Physics
  • eHealth Queensland – CDMU, Health Informatics Service, Digital Strategy and Transformation Branch

There was not any agreed resolution for any of these matters between the parties, but there was agreement for additional local meetings to further discuss solutions.  Again, local delegates and organisers will link in with members to seek input in these areas.

Contracting Out

There are industrial requirements for Queensland Health to consult where services are proposed to outsourced.  That is, where Queensland Health proposes that work not be undertaken by public servants.  There are clear requirements for when and how this can occur, including the need for union endorsement.  There are also requirements for the Department to review existing outsourcing arrangements, with the view to contracting the services back into Government.

There was broad discussion of both these matters given Together has recently become aware of a range of instances where services have been outsourced without consultation with unions.  Employment Relations representatives at the meeting agreed that they would undertake further investigations of the concerns raised by Together and report back to Together out of session.

HR Policy Reviews

The Department updated the group on a number of HR policies and guidelines that are currently out for review and amendment.  This is standard practice for the Department and unions, with regular reviews being undertaken to ensure policies remain current.  Review is undertaken through elected Together Conference delegates, who provide input on behalf of members.  This group represents staff from across the Department and all Hospital and Health Services.

Equity Considerations

Given the recent Wear It Purple Day, the Department provided an update on activities undertaken to promote this important cause and to raise awareness of LGBQTI issues. 

The Department also provided an update on recent work regarding training for domestic and family violence.  The training offers insight into how to deal with situations related to DFV that may arise in the workplace.

Reporting

In line with EB requirements, the Department provides to union parties a range of agreed reports including vacancy reports, temporary staff reports, labour hire, etc.  These were provided to unions out of session.  Reports were noted but there was no discussion of the specific reports.

COVID-safe Plan

Delegates raised members' concerns about the COVID-safety of 33 Charlotte St and asked a lot of questions about the COVID-safe plan.  In particular we examined how current the plan was and how it has been updated for evolving understanding of COVID transmission risks.  We also asked for technical details of how the air-conditioning system has been adjusted accordingly.  HR and Facilities agreed to meet separately to discuss these concerns, in particular how to monitor and report on non-compliance with the COVID-safe plan and what plans are being developed for when vaccination rates reach thresholds for dismantling current COVID-safety practices in the broader community.  If you have concerns about COVID safety at work, please contact your Together delegate.

Flexible Work

We again pressed HR on reporting of FWA applications and outcomes.  HR had previously reported that central records of FWA agreements are not kept and that all FWA decisions are between staff and their line managers alone.  However, HR are now in the process of trying to extract this information from the Realtime Workforce system.  It was also pointed out that the Working for Queensland Survey asks questions about applications and outcomes for FWAs.

We will continue to try to get more transparency from this concerning FWA process.  If you have concerns over outside interference in local FWA decisions, please contact you Together Delegate and make sure you answer the WfQ survey.

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au