How the PSA converted temporary Home Care staff

Dec 21, 2015

The PSA assisted temporary Home Care employees secure ongoing employment as they move to the private sector.

On 20 March 2015, the PSA wrote to Department of Family & Community Services (FACS) Secretary, Michael Coutts- Trotter, about temporary-staff arrangements.

Timeline: how a meeting became a win for member power

This is an example of how the process worked for a small group in the Referral and Access Centre (RAC) at Parramatta Home Care.

3 August 2015
At a members’ meeting, the main topic of conversion is the transfer of Home Care to the private sector. Members were concerned about temporary staff, who were non-members and had not been converted to ongoing employment.

3 August 2015
The delegate went back to the non-members to ask them to come to a meeting with the PSA to inform them about the conversion of ongoing employment.

4 August 2015
A meeting was held with five non-members, with other members in attendance to support the PSA. The meeting discussed what the PSA was doing to convert members into ongoing employment.

4 August 2015
After the meeting, an email was received from the delegate with five new member application forms.

7 August 2015
New members receive a copy of the letter to send to management about converting temporary positions to ongoing employment.

13 August 2015
New members in Home Care Service of NSW receive information about their transfer employment conditions.

17 August 2015
The delegate informs the PSA there is still no response from management in regards to conversion to ongoing employment.

19 August 2015
Home Care DC passed a motion for the PSA to officially write to Home Care in regards to the conversion.

24 August 2015
Home Care still had not sent the letters to our temporary members, despite his promises at a meeting with the Home Care members earlier in the week where he stated that they would be converted.

26 August 2015
Delegate advises still no email from management.

7 September 2015
After five working days, there is still no answer.

9 September 2015
Delegate contacts PSA to inform that five of the members have received an email stating the conversion to ongoing employment is approved and a formal letter will be sent shortly.

11 September 2015
All members receive their official letters of conversion to ongoing employment.


Grafton open; but prisons still packed tight

Dec 18, 2015

The inmates may not be too thrilled to be there, but the community of Grafton is happy to have its prison back in operation.

After a long campaign by the PSA, backed by the local chamber of commerce, council, and the local National Party MP, the Baird Government re-opened more than 100 beds at the correctional facility.

The initial expansion of the prison saw about 25 new full-time positions created.

A new prison is expected to be completed in the nearby town of Lavadia by 2019.

Corrective Services NSW has announced the pool of staff who formerly worked at the prison before it was downgraded to remand centre status in 2012 will be given first right of refusal on new jobs.

The PSA has conducted a long campaign for the prison to be re-opened.

Dating back to 1893, the facility was promoted as an excellent destination for the rising number of prisoners in the NSW correctional system.

PSA General Secretary Anne Gardiner highlighted the need for Grafton to be reopened as a matter of urgency to deal with the situation.

“This union has fought a tireless battle to place the need to re-open Grafton on the Government’s radar while generating support at a local community level,” said Gardiner.

“This campaign demonstrates how the union, working with the broader community – including National MP, Clarence Valley Council Mayor and President of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce – can produce an outstanding result for regional NSW.

“I am delighted that the PSA has been able to make such a strong contribution to the Grafton region.”
However, the crisis in prison numbers continues.

With stricter sentencing and a boost in ice-related convictions, the NSW prison system is struggling to cope, as the Baird Government last year ignored warnings from the PSA last year that the system was underfunded and not able to cope with projected growth in prison numbers.

Those predictions have come true.

A surge in inmates on remand has been partially blamed for the boost in numbers.

There have been reports of convicted prisoners being driven around in vans while authorities try to find beds for them.

Recently, bail courts have been closed due to overcrowding and convicted felons have been allowed to remain outside due to a lack of cells.

Police have been working overtime and buying take-away for inmates as holding cells designed for short stints of incarceration are used for longer-term confinement.

In November, a suspected ice dealer was alleged by The Daily Telegraph to have been granted bail on the sole basis there was nowhere to house him in the Corrective Services system.

In some cases, prisoners are now three to a cell, increasing the risk of assault, particularly as summer temperatures climb and smoking bans continue to fray tempers.

Parklea Prison, in Sydney’s north-west, is also to be expanded in the future, with work expected to be complete in 2018.

The PSA first alerted Premier Baird to the overcrowding crisis with a letter in December 2014.

The people of NSW are still waiting for an adequate response.

Trustee and Guardian in retreat over closures

Dec 18, 2015

The PSA has helped save three regional Trustee and Guardian offices slated for closure or a reduction in services.

In a move that would have pulled services from some of the state’s most vulnerable people, the Trustee and Guardian offices in Armidale, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Lismore, Gosford, Bankstown, Penrith, Burwood, Chatswood, Hurstville, Liverpool, Wollongong, Newcastle and Miranda were slated for closure or a severe reduction in services.

And with the exception of Parramatta and O’Connell Street in the City, all offices in the Sydney metropolitan area will be shut.

Lower-grade positions, predominantly held by women, were to be essentially eliminated.

However, pressure from the PSA, which was concerned about the Government’s business case, has reversed planned changes to the Broken Hill, Bathurst and Lismore offices.

The reversal is a result of pressure from PSA members; local communities and media; and MPs, one of whom stated, “I was pretty adamant that the decision be reviewed because I didn’t think it was a good one. Not just for our community, but for a couple of others as well. I couldn’t see the sense in the savings that they were trying to make.”

According to the Government’s initial plans, about 160 full-time positions – around a third of the Trustee and Guardian workforce – were to be cut, making services harder to access by clients, many of whom are elderly or have mental illnesses.

People requiring the Trustee and Guardian’s services in Broken Hill, for example, would have been required to access the Dubbo office – an eight-hour drive to the east. The PSA opposes the cuts and has taken its case to the Industrial Relations Commission.

In a major win for the PSA and its members, Commissioner Newell of the IRC determined that there would be:

  • no job losses across all of the NSW Trustee and Guardian until the completion and assessment of the pilot
  • no Trustee and Guardian employee should be forced into making a decision about their future until a final restructure establishment was in place
  • the pilot would be assessed by Commissioner Newell
  • a transparent, regular and genuine consultation process was required between management and PSA senior staff.

The PSA will continue to consult Trustee and Guardian management about staffing levels and the pilot.
The Trustee and Guardian conducts the financial affairs of people unable to control their own money, such as the elderly or those with mental impairment.

It provides such services as will-drafting; estate-administration; corporate and individual trusts; powers of attorney; substitute financial management services for people with decision-making disabilities subject to a Court or Tribunal order; authorising and directing the performance of private managers appointed by the Supreme Court or Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal; and specialist services including funds management, taxation, legal counsel, property conveyancing, securities and genealogy.

These people will be left to the whims of private law firms if the Government continues to erode the Trustee and Guardian.

Funds managed by NSW Trustee and Guardian are held secure in the Common Fund, which stood at over $2.5 billion at 30 June 2013.

The changes are part of a review of Trustee and Guardian fees carried out by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Authority, which was handed down in November 2014.

However, the cuts come after what the PSA believes was a spending frenzy that depleted the Trustee and Guardian’s sizeable ‘war chest’ it inherited from the Public Trustee it absorbed in 2009.

Allegations of excess spending include:

  • pricey relocation of branch offices such as moving the Blacktown office to Penrith and new premises in Chatswood.

This involved communicating with all clients and changes to stationery and publications

  • breaking of current leases. In the case of Penrith and Blacktown, there is a double up on rent for at least 12 months
  • signing of 15-year leases when it was obvious that the branches would probably be closing
  • refurbishment of all the Trustee and Guardian branch offices with safe rooms to accommodate difficult clients and extravagant updates of furniture and fittings
  • up-to-date televisions in all branch offices – in some cases these televisions do not have connectivity to anything but free-to-air television stations
  • new iPads and iPhones for branches
  • opening a Bathurst branch amidst great fanfare only five years ago.

The PSA points out there has been no rural impact study on the move, which will have a drastic effect on the lives of people in country NSW.

The technological changes used to justify the moves will also take longer to implement, particularly as many users of the Trustee and Guardian’s services will not be as IT-savvy as most NSW residents.
Reports on the ABC confirmed the PSA’s stance that cutbacks would adversely affect people with mental illness, brain injuries, dementia and those who are homeless.

The PSA also pointed out that cuts in local services have an adverse effect on local communities, businesses and families.

It is little surprise organisations such as Alzheimer’s Australia have also voiced their concerns.
The cuts to the Trustee and Guardian come at the same time when the Age Discrimination Commissioner is warning of the vulnerabilities older Australians are facing.

It has become increasingly evident that the business case has been put together in a reckless and poorly thought out way, and the PSA has successfully placed on hold the Baird Government’s decision to cut back the Trustee and Guardian.

The PSA’s concerns include:

  • a lack of consultation
  • workload issues
  • service delivery
  • the absence of a rural impact study
  • no impact study on the effect on vulnerable community members
  • the improbability of a pilot based on a program which has yet to be developed
  • concerns about the business case’s methodology.

Unpaid wages win for ADHC staff

Oct 5, 2015

The PSA has won four years of unpaid overtime for ADHC staff at the Tomaree Centre.

The Centre is a facility for adults with an intellectual disability at Shoal Bay, in the Port Stephens region of NSW.

Staff realised they had been continually working more hours than their mandated 76-hour fortnights, yet were not paid for any excess time on the job.

Regional organiser for the PSA, Paul James, approached the department’s regional director and requested a pay audit.

After the audit, the director arranged for staff to be paid for the extra hours worked over the past four years.

PSA secures major provisions for Home Care transfer

Sep 25, 2015

PSA secures major provisions for Home Care transfer September 2015 (PDF version)

Dear members,

You will have recently received correspondence from Kevin Reilly, Director, Home Care regarding the transfer to Australian Unity.

As you would be aware, the PSA has taken a strong stand on your behalf to secure the best possible deal in relation to the transfer.

While we were not able to secure every measure we sought, I am pleased to report that the union has in fact secured a number of important outcomes that we, with your support, have been fighting for throughout the negotiation period.

We have ensured:

  • that Australian Unity will not seek to negotiate a new enterprise agreement for two years, meaning that conditions are guaranteed for that period
  • the protection of MEE Policy redundancy entitlements post-transfer
  • that all leave entitlements and accruals to date will be transferred to the new employer, including sick leave.

I have been in discussions with FACS Secretary, Michael Coutts-Trotter, in pursuit of these issues and it is pleasing to see the results reflected in some way in Mr Reilly’s correspondence.

I want to congratulate all members for staying strong in this campaign. It is because of your strength that these outcomes have been achieved.

Let me assure you that the PSA will continue to represent your interests with Australian Unity and ensure that you receive the best possible deal through the transition and beyond.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Turner
Acting PSA General Secretary

Sheriff’s Officers recruitment campaign win

Sep 24, 2015

Sheriff’s Officers recruitment campaign win September 2015 (PDF version)

As you are aware, Sheriff’s Officers are responsible for the safe and efficient functioning of the courts and justice system. They maintain the security of court complexes and ensure the safety of judicial officers, legal professionals and the public in NSW courts and tribunals.

Sheriff’s Officers also have law enforcement responsibilities – serving warrants, summons and other orders issued by NSW courts and tribunals and the enforcement of orders within NSW on behalf of Commonwealth courts – the High Court, Federal Court and Family Court of Australia.

Over the last few years, the number of Sheriff’s Officers throughout NSW has been declining, with many unsatisfactory reasons given for failing to recruit and/or not fill vacant positions.

The heightened national terror alert announced in September 2014 further amplified the need to address Sheriff’s Officer numbers.


PSA staff and delegates on the Sheriff’s Officers’ Vocational Branch Advisory Group (SOVBAG) have been campaigning tirelessly for an increase in Sheriff’s Officer numbers.

Part of a dispute lodged by the PSA against the Office of the Sheriff in March 2015 was the considerable reduction in Sheriff’s Officers and the need to rectify this shortfall as a matter of urgency.

The PSA was advised by the Department in June this year that an increase in funding for one year had been granted for the recruitment of Sheriff’s Officers to address the heightened national terror alert.

The persistence of the PSA in highlighting the need for more Sheriff’s Officers paid off. The Government announced that security at key courthouses across NSW will be strengthened with the appointment of forty (40) new Sheriff’s Officers.

The new recruits will undergo a five week training program, with the first classes already underway. Once the recruits have successfully completed their training, they will be located in Sydney and regional areas of NSW.

What can you do?

  • Give a copy of this bulletin to your colleagues.
  • Print out this bulletin and put it up on your notice board.
  • Ask a colleague to join the PSA.
  • Get involved as your Area Contact.
  • Attend a meeting at your worksite.

Update your details

If you have moved, have a new work email, work phone, or work location, please update your membership details HERE

Your delegates

Ron Bak
Lynne Bak
Laurie Haggerty
Jason Kildey
Michael Carpenter


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