Late last week on Thursday, 15 December 2022 your PSA Industrial Officer and PSA RNSW delegates attended the significant Resilience NSW (RNSW) all-staff meeting, in which Shane Fitzsimmons announced his departure.
It was obvious that there was a lot of emotion in the room, and we know that this has been a very challenging time for our Resilience NSW members since the media leak on 4 August 2022 announcing the ’dismantling of Resilience NSW’. There were also the two subsequent flood inquiry reports – The Upper House NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Select Committee Report on the response to Major Flooding across NSW in 2022 Report No. 1 and the government-commissioned Independent Inquiry Report co-authored by Professor Mary O’Kane AC and former NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller APM recommending change.
The PSA is aware of the difficulties faced by staff at Resilience NSW, as you have continued to help disaster-effected communities whilst the future role of the agency is decided.
The PSA has been committed to maintaining communication and engagement with your delegates and RNSW management, concerning plans for the functions of the agency, but more importantly the job security of our members, tracking developments, and attending all of the RNSW all-staff meetings from August through to December, in which Shane Fitzsimmons has provided updates.
At our November Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting, the PSA provided detailed feedback from our members to the RNSW executive, concerning the impact of the media announcements, and PMES results, primarily about fatigue, burn-out and staff morale, with members providing constructive recommendations. We advocated that amidst the turmoil and heavy workload, staff be assured of their ongoing employment and be given certainty and job security, as soon as possible. We noted the high attrition rates since August 2022. RNSW management listened and advised that no jobs will be lost, and that recruitment is continuing, as a matter of priority, to fill current vacancies. We also commended the After-Action Plans but said more needs to be done to support staff mental health and wellbeing.
Transition from Resilience NSW to the NSW Reconstruction Authority
We understand the NSW Government has committed in principle to implement the 28 recommendations of the Fuller O’Kane Report including legislating the creation of the NSW Reconstruction Authority. It is positive that stakeholder submissions to the working group have resulted in most of Resilience NSW functions remaining together and transitioning to the NSW Reconstruction Authority (NSWRA).
To support the transition the DPC Deputy Secretary People and Operations will lead a NSWRA Machinery of Government Steering Committee to work with Resilience NSW and DPE as well as DCJ, DPC and NSW Police concerning all aspects of corporate, legal, people and governance functions. This committee is to ensure the smooth transition of employee supports including pay, IT, leave, email, and accommodation.
An interim acting CEO for NSW RA commenced this week and has met with the RNSW Executive. The Acting CEO will sit in the role to assist the transition, whilst a permanent CEO is merit-selected, and an advisory board is established in the new year. Over the coming weeks and into the new year, more information will be released through staff emails, forums, and team meetings with RNSW staff. The PSA will be kept informed.
Organisational Change Plans
The PSA is advised that at this time there are no solid plans for a restructure. If a restructure is planned in the new year, after the new CEO is appointed, we have an undertaking that there will be engagement and consultation with the PSA over any organisational change. We have made it clear throughout, that a comprehensive Change Management Plan in accordance with Public Service commission Agency Change guidelines is required in that event.
At this stage, however, it is business as usual, with all non-executive jobs maintained and recruitment continuing to fill current vacancies. With the summer season coming, there is a shared understanding that the Public Sector must maintain your expertise in imperative relief and recovery functions, staffed with qualified experienced ongoing employees.
The PSA has committed to…
- Maintain strong engagement and consultation concerning the government’s implementation of flood report recommendations.
- Keep your ongoing public sector roles.
- Advocate for a smooth transition of Resilience NSW functions and Machinery of Government changes.
- Engage and provide feedback on an Organisational Change Plan in accordance with Public Service Commission Agency Change guidelines if a restructure occurs in the new year.
- Promote community awareness about the recovery skills, qualifications, and the experience of staff; the PSA has offered to tell your stories in our Red Tape publication and across social media platforms. We know many of you were and still are deployed, to Northern NSW, away from your families for long periods, assisting communities. Positive feedback from grateful communities on the ground needs to translate to a government commitment to support these essential public service roles.
- Continue formal consultative arrangements with NSW RA.
- Promote workplace safety, staff health and wellbeing.
If you are taking time off, enjoy your break and the PSA will continue to keep members updated as things unfold. If you have any immediate concerns, please contact your PSA delegates; Adam Tran, Pete Christie or Cally Sheehan (subject to their leave) or call the PSA Member Support Centre on 1800 772 679.