The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Joint Consultative Committee met on Tuesday 13 June to discuss a range of issues including:
The PSA has been advocating on behalf of NPWS administration staff in respect to workload issues since the Future Parks restructure in 2018. During the restructure, administration roles were deleted and created at lower grades. However, since the restructure, administrative staff functions have been gradually increasing.
The PSA requested branch conferences for administration staff to discuss workload and other issues currently affecting them.
NPWS has agreed to put out a survey to administration staff seeking genuine anonymous feedback on workload issues within the administration cohort.
The PSA supports this action, as it would give the Department a clear understanding of the issues that the PSA has been raising since the Future National Parks restructure.
Law Enforcement and ‘Risk E Business’ report
The PSA asked for an update on law enforcement including this report. The Department promised to release a summary of the report and an action plan.
Incentives for working in western locations
The Department advised that some of the strategies being applied to encourage recruitment of staff out west include developing partnerships with local educational institutions; access to government housing; short term acting stints; promoting extra allowances; removal of payroll restrictions to remote area allowances. Also promoting job opportunities out west on social media.
Change and Machinery of Government
There is (so far) no indication as to how NPWS business will change with the change of government and possible Machinery of Government (MoG) changes. However, the meeting was advised that the budget climate will be ‘difficult’ with no detail as to the impact on the NPWS budget. The Minister’s office still has some vacancies ,so expect a few more months of uncertainty. NPWS continues to work with the PSA on wild horse issues impacting members. This continues to be an ongoing issue with support being provided to affected members by both the department and the PSA. To date, there’s been no recruitment for the Great Koala National Park.
Work Health and Safety update
Cat 9 vehicles will have a brake safety upgrade for current vehicles and new vehicles will come with upgraded braking systems. PPE for noise mitigation will be inspected and checked for suitability. Noise testing will be undertaken over the next six months.
An updated men’s health page will be on ParkSite. More people die from suicide than in motor vehicle accidents, disproportionally affecting men (75 per cent) and Aboriginal people (twice as likely).
Recruitment update, including the filling of 250 new roles
NPWS updated the meeting advising that 219 roles have been filled. Eighty-six per cent have been filled internally; with a 50/50 split on temporary/ongoing roles. FOGO roles are being ‘rested’ until their future is resolved. Of the roles filled 33 are Aboriginal and 63 women. Some individuals were directly appointed with no explanation given as to why this happened.
With the ongoing recruitment of temporary staff, the recruitment churn continues to create significant delays in recruitment action being completed (in spite of the fact that an additional five staff have been placed into talent acquisition). Further to this some staff who applied for the 250 roles are yet to be provided with any information as to the outcome of recruitment action.
Digital device issues
There are many issues with digital devices across NPWS. The meeting was advised that this is not just specific issue for NPWS. Issues with such devices is affecting the broader DPE cohort. The matter will be referred to the DPE JCC.
Leave balance issues
The 30-day ‘limit’ on leave accrual is being translated locally as 210 hours in spite of some staff working eight-hour days (which equates to 240 hours). However, the award only refers to ‘weeks’ not ‘hours’. Also a proportional amount of days or hours should be applied to part-time staff.
Further advice on this matter will be provided by the Department.