On 15 June 2022 the PSA attended the NPWS Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting. Some of the main issues discussed during the JCC were:
250 permanent roles for National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)
Deputy Secretary, Atticus Fleming attended the meeting and announced the establishment of 250 new ongoing roles in NPWS. NPWS will provide further details in the coming weeks on what and where these roles will be located. This is great news and comes after ongoing advocacy by the PSA to have temporary roles converted to ongoing.
Mr Fleming thanked the PSA for its advocacy on the issue and indicated that the NPWS would consult with the the union on role conversion. He also indicated that NPWS will attempt to plug gaps and relieve workload pressure at some locations across the state. This will also reduce ‘recruitment churn’ and take the pressure off the many staff involved in the recruitment process.
Through this process NPWS management indicated they would also look at the recruitment process and tenure for new roles to be recruited in Kosciuszko National Park to continue with the feral horse control program. The PSA also advised the meeting that compliance requires additional resources and that this should be considered through the process.
COVID vaccination policy update
Risk assessments undertaken by Deloitte have been finalised. A draft future policy on vaccinations has been prepared by and submitted to NPWS for consideration. There will be continued consultation with the PSA on this issue with information to be provided to the PSA in the coming days.
Recruitment and retention of staff in Northern Inland and Western Branches
NPWS has formed a committee to consider this issue and is working on a strategy to assist with resolving many of the issues which affect staff retention and recruitment in these Branches. Working in remote locations; housing; additional out of pocket costs; travel; isolation and mental issues are some of the factors to be discussed.
The PSA has asked to have a representative on the committee to advise on its members working in such locations.
Workload issues for staff
The issue of continuing high volumes of work was discussed at the meeting, specifically for those working on numerous projects including Senior Field Supervisors; Area Managers; Rangers; clerical staff; Team Leader Rangers and Project Officers amongst many classifications. NPWS advised that there have been meetings with SFS’s; Rangers and Area Managers to discuss issues in relation to the significant workloads currently being experienced by staff and is in the process of preparing a report. The PSA will continue to agitate on behalf of our administration members who are not undervalued, but certainly under–resourced.
Flexible work arrangements and COVID
The PSA provided the meeting with results from a member survey indicating that some members were concerned that NPWS was not taking COVID seriously enough, and that a high proportion of members in the Ranger and Team Leader Ranger classifications weren’t happy with their current work from home arrangements.
NPWS disagreed with this perception around COVID and advised that very low transmission of COVID across the state amongst staff was clearly indicative of NPWS doing a good job in the workplace and for visitor interaction to minimise the spread of COVID in the workplace and that they were taking the matter seriously.
NPWS also committed to further discuss with the PSA on Ranger and TLR work-from-home arrangements.