Your PSA representatives recently attended the Peak Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) to discuss member concerns with the Secretary. The following is a report back to members on matters discussed:
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Both parties acknowledged the impact on staff during these unprecedented times. The Department of Customer Service (DCS) Secretary, Emma Hogan, advised the committee that supporting staff’s mental health and wellbeing will continue to be major areas of focus for the Department in 2022. DCS had strongly encouraged people to take leave for a mental break over the Public Service shutdown period and has recently launched a wellbeing hub in aim to centralise access to many mental health programs.
The Secretary reported that on any given day that staffing can be down by up to 15 per cent due to COVID-19 contraction or isolation requirement. DCS has acknowledged the impact this may have on workload stressors and Health & Safety. The PSA will continue to monitor the situation to ensure any concerns are adequately addressed.
There has also been an increase of the contingent labour work force to 18 per cent, which the Department admits is high. However, the Department says this is due to additional programs of work, in combination with a large number of vacancies. DCS advised this is likely to remain high for the next 12 months, however temporary arrangements are being sought over contingency. The PSA will keep a watchful eye on this throughout the year and expect updates via our fortnightly Recurring Joint Consultative Committee meetings.
Extended wait times for Independent Medical Examinations
Members reported significant wait times for referral by the Department for an Independent Medical Examination, in some cases members have waited as long as three months. The PSA is extremely concerned with the extended wait times that members are experiencing and recognises the impact that these wait times can have on an individual’s mental health. DCS have advised that they will review the current IME procedure and investigate the timeliness of the process. Your PSA representatives will report back to you on the outcome.
DCS has advised that a collective learning platform is in scope at the moment. The platform will aim to deliver employees micro-accreditations through TAFE programs. The PSA welcomes the steps the Department is taking towards developing employee capabilities.
Machinery of Government changes
With the announcement of the recent Machinery of Government changes, steps are being taken to move Liquor, Gaming and Racing out of the Department of Customer Service: Better Regulation Division (DCS: BRD) into the newly created Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade. The PSA has been assured that there will be no loss of staff, and will continue to update affected members as additional briefings are undertaken through our fortnightly Recurring Joint Consultative Committee meetings. Members in Liquor, Gaming and Racing will have received a Bulletin with further details.