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National Park cuts let loose wild dogs and bushfires

Jul 19, 2017

PSA Media release

Large areas of the state will be left exposed to bushfires and uncontrolled wild dogs in the wake of a restructure of National Park operations by the Office of Environment & Heritage, the Public Service Association (PSA) says.

The restructure in the lead up to the bushfire season, when experienced planning should be in full swing, will also impact on the safety of the 30 million people who each year flock to the state’s National Parks.

“The Government’s assault on this workforce is nothing less than a direct attack on public safety,” said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

“Just last month, a Coffs Harbour resident was confronted by three wild dogs outside her house, while   a southern NSW grazier has built a $300,000, 32-kilometre fence to keep the feral population out.

“At a time when the wild dog population is peaking in the bush, Area Manager positions are being cut leaving farmers alone to deal with the issue and the potential for further significant stock losses.

Area managers coordinate and seek funding to resource wild dog control programs for their areas but  have already been hampered by severe job cuts.

NPWS has lost 100 experienced Rangers over the past few years with this restructure set to further decimate their ranks – an impact that will be particularly felt in regional areas and by farmers.

“In recent years, NPWS has downsized from 66 areas across the state to what will be just 35 under this latest restructure, with staffing reduced accordingly,” Mr Little said.

“Already 14 Regional Managers have been lost and now 15 Area Managers, who also manage bushfires, will be cut as part of the restructure that has just been announced.

“The savage irony is that the National Parks and Wildlife Service this year celebrates its 50th anniversary yet hundreds and hundreds of years of experience is being shunted out the door,” Mr Little said.

“National Parks’ staff are expert front line fire fighters protecting lives, private property, forestry, homes, pastures, the lot.

“The skills of these individuals are learned on the ground, not in a classroom, so it will take years to replace the knowledge we are once more about to lose.

Berejiklian Madness as 500 Jobs Cut from TAFE

Jun 21, 2017

PSA media release

More than 500 jobs from TAFE will be cut in the middle of a skills shortage under the latest act of Berejiklian madness, the Public Service Association says.

Despite having a $4 billion plus surplus, the NSW Government has jeopardised the future of NSW by attacking the prospects of the very worker bees required to drive the economy.

In the budget papers under Industry Clusters, TAFE full-time equivalent (FTE) workers for 2016-2017 is listed at 10,470.

In the budget forecast for 2017 -2018, that number drops by 501 to just 9,969 FTE TAFE workers.

The cuts have hit both TAFE teaching and support staff.

PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said TAFE jobs underpin the future workforce of NSW.

“The Government is again attacking the capacity of TAFE to properly train our future workforce. This is an assault on generations to come and the NSW economy itself.”

“Who is going to build all these roads to nowhere?”

Also disappointing is the commitment to the safety of children at risk. Despite promising to increase child protection, the Government has failed to fill vacant Community Services case worker roles.

In the Western division alone, which covers the Riverina and Far West, only 56 positions are filled out of 101.  On the North Coast it’s even worse like in Coffs Harbour, where only two out of 11 Aboriginal case worker positions have been filled.

“This is a Government that makes grand promises but just does not hire people to fill the jobs” said Acting PSA Assistant General Secretary, Kris Cruden.

“We have approximately half of the Aboriginal Child Protection workers positions vacant and well over 100 case worker vacancies at any time. How are these people ever going to see children at risk if the government would rather squirrel away money for another edifice?”

The PSA also noted that a number of court and justice services will be cut making community access to justice and fairness that much more difficult.

The NSW Government promises to grow the Arts and Cultural infrastructure, but over the last three years, the NSW Museum and State Library has seen a third of staff cut.

NSW wipes its hands of disability services as Productivity Commission raises major concerns – PSA

Jun 15, 2017

PSA Media release

The Public Service Association (PSA) has slammed the NSW Government for scrapping public disability services as a Productivity Commission report raises serious concerns about access and cost blow outs with the NDIS.

The report also highlighted the PSA’s long held concern that some people with disability are receiving a reduced service under the NDIS.

“The disaster this union has been warning about for some time is now official,” said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

“This is the worst possible time for the NSW Government to be washing its hands of public disability services.

“NSW Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams is about to preside over the greatest social tragedy NSW has ever seen. That’s quite a legacy.”

The fate of tens of thousands of people in NSW with disabilities – the most vulnerable in our community – is being handed to non-Government operators who will be focused on profits.

The Productivity Commission relevations follow a previous report from the Federal Health Department that revealed it under estimated by 30,000 the number of people expected to access the NDIS – leading to a cost blow out of $1 billion.

“There is not going to be the money nor the capacity to properly service people with disability under the NDIS and by June 2018, the NSW Government will have completely stepped out of that space,” Mr Little said.

“NSW will be the only state in Australia with no Government safety net, throwing the care of people with disability into free fall.

“Tens of thousands stand to fall through the cracks destined to land in the state’s hospitals, mental health facilities and even the criminal justice system – areas lacking expertise in specialist disability care.”

Govt Dis-Connex – Budget must relieve disability care, child protection and prison crisis: PSA

Jun 7, 2017

PSA media release

The NSW Government must halt its socially destructive privatisation agenda and focus attention on such critical public services as disability care, child protection and prisons said the Public Service Association (PSA).

The PSA, the state’s largest public sector union, calls on the State Government to openly assess the socio-economic impact of any proposed privatisation as part of the budgetary process.

The union has a major stake in the budget with more than 36,000 members who provide vital public services to the 7.5 million people in NSW each day.

“The NSW Government talks about asset sale proceeds going towards more rail, roads, schools and hospitals,” said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

“What the Government doesn’t say is they will be toll roads and private hospitals.

“The Government that is only concerned with building infrastructure not communities or a society.

“This is a Government that is intent on washing its hands of all social responsibility for public services, the fallout from which will be disastrous for generations to come.

“It’s all about big business and big money. The lives of real people caught in the business transaction crossfire are just collateral damage as far as the Government is concerned.

“The Government loves to trumpet its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than potentially losing the security on their property with the sale of the Land Titles Registry?”

“What could be more life changing for tens of thousands of families than to have the care of loved ones with disability thrown into free fall after the Government completely steps away from the public disability space next year?”

“NSW will be the only state in Australia with no Government safety net for people with disability.”

The PSA believes the NSW Government should look critically at overseas privatisation experiences, particularly the horrors in the UK, and review and recalibrate its position in those terms.

“Reforms based purely on rigid political ideology cannot possibly be in the public interest,” said Stewart Little.

Glaring examples of this gaping policy shortcoming can be seen in TAFE – with the misleadingly titled Smart and Skilled reforms – and handing of countless millions in public funds to cheap private providers with little accountability – along with the outsourcing of public housing.

“Some services simply must remain statutory responsibilities of the crown. Passing off critical areas such as Out of Home Care for vulnerable children, disability services and prisons to the private and community sector is nothing short of a gross abdication of the Government’s duty of care,” said Stewart Little.

“The consulting and other firms who are paid millions to deliver these reforms are winners, as are the private organisations who win the right to operate public services. But what is the pay off for the people of NSW?”

The PSA calls for the introduction of the following as part of the ongoing budgetary process:

  • Social justice impact statements of potential implications of any proposed privatisation. Including comparative social and economic evidence of similar outsourcings elsewhere in the world
  • Public business cases to provide clear and open grounds for any proposed privatisation or outsourcing
  • A cost benefit analysis of any outsourced service to be made public every 12 months
  • Retaining a Government safety net for people with disability who have high end needs unable to be accommodated by the private sector
  • Properly reinstating TAFE as the state’s pre-eminent vocational trainer rather than outsourcing critical skills instruction to lowest common denominator private providers
  • An immediate moratorium on outsourcing of Out of Home Care of vulnerable children
  • Investment in public prisons rather than a “cell off” to the private sector
  • Retaining and growing NSW Housing’s public stock with no further transfers to the community sector.

Public prison announcement a win for public safety

May 25, 2017

PSA Media release:

The PSA is today celebrating its win in the fight to keep the NSW prison system in public hands.

Today’s announcement that the John Morony Correctional Centre at Windsor will remain a state run facility is a clear victory for common sense and recognition of the work and capacity of Correctional Officers said the union.

“That a Government hell bent on privatising everything has decided not to sell off the John Morony prison is an enormous win for public safety in NSW,” said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

The PSA has argued that privatisation means a lack of transparency and creates breeding grounds for radicalisation and fight clubs.

“The NSW public prison system boasts the best officers in the world who, to their enormous credit, successfully manage a grossly overcrowded system, which houses 13,000 inmates in a situation designed to accommodate 10,000.

“In New Zealand, privately run prisons were a debacle with inmates setting up fight clubs and posting videos on social media and the Government terminated the operator’s contract.”

A 2016 Auditor General’s Report on Cost of Government found publicly run NSW prisons were among the cheapest in Australia to run negating any cost benefit from privatisation.

“The PSA has lobbied the Government intensively and will be working with all parties to ensure the best possible outcome for public safety and the well being of Correctional Officers.”

53 billion arguments against privatisation says union

May 16, 2017

PSA Media release:

According to new figures, the NSW Government has privatised a staggering $53 billion in public services to its business mates said the Public Service Association (PSA).

Critical services such as the Land Titles Registry and public disability services are among the areas that have gone under the hammer.

“The Premier says that the proceeds of the sale of these public services and assets will be channelled towards more rail, roads, schools and hospitals,” said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little.

“What the Premier does not say is those roads will have a toll attached and the hospitals will be private.”

“It’s all about big business and big money. The lives of real people caught in the transaction crossfire are just collateral damage as far as the Government is concerned.”

“NSW will be the only state in Australia with no Government safety net for people with disability.”

“This is a Government intent on washing its hands of all social responsibility for public services, the fallout from which will be disastrous for generations to come.”

“The most astonishing thing is these new figures were revealed by the NSW Parliamentary Library not a think tank with a political agenda,” said Stewart Little.



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