National Parks Vocational Branch (NPVB) Delegates Meeting - Public Service Association

National Parks Vocational Branch (NPVB) Delegates Meeting

NPWS delegates met on Tuesday 14 May at PSA House and via Teams to discuss a range of industrial issues affecting members.

1)    Beware of erroneous over-payment reports!

Members need to be aware that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (DCCEEW) Payroll has erroneously identified overpayments to NPWS staff. Miscalculations appear to be more common for part-time staff. Some of the mistakes have resulted in notifications of substantial debts.

The PSA advises members to not enter a repayment plan for an alleged debt without requesting copies of all records (including reviewing your timesheets for the relevant pay periods) and double-checking Payroll’s calculations. Report any issues to the PSA.

2)    Ranger progression update

A draft revised ranger progression framework has come out and the PSA was represented at a Town Hall meeting held to discuss it. Feedback on the draft framework (either by email or via an anonymous survey) was until 3 June. However, the PSA has requested on behalf of our members a further 2 weeks consultation, which has been granted, consultation now closes 17 June 2024.

3)    Uniform issues

A survey has been sent to all NPWS staff seeking feedback on the suitability of the range of new uniform garments. The PSA understands this is being organised by Stewart & Heaton as part of their contract to NPWS. It is hoped changes will be made to the range to address the issues that members have reported regarding the comfort of certain items and the durability of others.

4)    Reports of career meltdown

The meeting was advised that many women members, especially those employed in NPWS for longer than 10 years, are experiencing ‘career meltdown’. Many feel alienated, with their knowledge, skills, abilities and experience seemingly viewed as no longer relevant, as more and more project officers with little or no experience in conservation land management are entering the agency. There are reports that some long-term staff are being disparaged when reminding their team leaders of award conditions or proper processes under environmental legislation and NPWS policies. There are reports of staff being marginalised, passed over for promotion or acting opportunities, excluded from work social activities and excluded from communications. These bullying tactics are not acceptable in a modern workplace.

5)    Information on parental leave and sick leave entitlements

It was recently discovered that information regarding parental leave entitlements on Compass and the CS Connect ‘Knowledge Centre’ was incorrect. These sites claimed that all forms of parental leave start from the date of birth, when the award allows for maternity leave to be taken up to 9 weeks before the expected date of birth, with a further period of up to 12 months after the actual date of birth. Due to the efforts of your delegates, this information has been corrected.

The PSA cautions members against working from home when you’re sick. If you’re sick and have a medical certificate, and have sufficient sick leave accrued, please take time off as sick leave, and not be forced work from home.

6)    Feral Horse Program

An external investigation was undertaken by the Department into the feral horse re-homing program. This investigation was instigated by the adverse publicity from sections of the community. The PSA was there supporting our members through this stressful and traumatic experience.

7)    Dual careers – households and families in NPWS

There are questions being raised regarding the policies and programs designed to accommodate dual career aspirations of couples employed in NPWS. Problems arise when each partner works different shifts or is offered relocation that is incompatible with their partner’s career. When demands of work and family life clash, the resulting tension can have a negative impact on parental mental health and family life. Senior leaders, managers and HR must be alert to implications of an employed partner when providing any career development counselling.

8)    Upcoming vacancies for the NPVB

There will be a few vacancies on the NPVB executive that will come up at this year’s AGM in November as several members will be standing down. If you’re interested in becoming a delegate and member of the NPVB executive, please contact one of the current delegates.

9)    Your NPWS delegate team

Ben Owers – National Parks Vocational Branch Chair

Janet Cavanaugh – NPVB Secretary

Peter Mylan – Deputy Chair

Aimee Poole – Admin Representative

Andy Leach – Park Programs Representative (i.e. Business Delivery, CAP and FIOB)

Annie Thompson Aboriginal Staff Representative

Naomi Goosen – Women’s Representative & Delegate (Blue Mountains)

Angela Lewis – Delegate (West and Northern Inland)

Phuong Le – Delegate (Greater Sydney)

Martin Smith – Delegate (North Coast)

Alex Deura – Delegate (South Coast)

Daniel (Danny) Corcoran – Delegate (Southern Ranges)

Steve (Stumpy) Carter – Delegate for Kosciusko Field Staff

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