National Parks and Wildlife Service update - Public Service Association

National Parks and Wildlife Service update

On 14 February, the National Parks Vocational Branch (NPVB) met to discuss a range of issues. Some of the main issues discussed during the meeting were:

250 new roles in NPWS

While the PSA welcomes the additional roles, there are some concerns about the recruitment process. The PSA met with the department on 13 February to express these concerns specifically why questions were no longer supplied to applicants; only two face to face interviews provided by NPWS and further interviews to be at the expense of the applicant.

The department advised that questions were no longer provided prior to interviews due to sharing of questions and costs of attending face to face interviews needed to be managed. There are interview panels for each branch (hence 8 panels).

Wild horse control in KNP

The PSA has again raised concerns around members safety with NPWS management after the sharing of images from trail cameras illegally placed in the Park. The PSA is encouraged to see a more proactive stance by NPWS in dealing with the latest issues. Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been involved with investigating the matter and the NPWS Deputy Secretary has issued a memo to strongly support staff.

SFS3 review

The PSA supports the additional support now being provided to SFS3’s but is extremely disappointed that the same approach has not been undertaken for the administration staff employed in NPWS.

The PSA has continually advocated on behalf of this cohort due to the unnecessary downgrading of roles during the future Park restructure. The administration staff have suffered significantly with workload, fatigue and burnout, however NPWS senior management feel this is acceptable. The PSA will continue to advocate on behalf of our members the work in this cohort to provide additional resources and support.

The PSA will continue to advocate for a review of workloads and extra support for area based administrative staff and Team Leader Rangers who face similar issues to the SFS3.

Women’s Issues

The Women’s WHS Committee (which was created at the PSA’s request) is meeting in early March to discuss a range of issues. Matters considered to date include the draft Sexual Harassment Policy, management of menopause in the workplace and the safety of women travelling to and from work. NPVB Women’s contact representative, Naomi Goosen, is now on the ‘DPE Harmony Council’, which is the official employee reference group advising on the implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Uniform Reference Group (URG)

The new uniform is currently being rolled out. There has been general support for the new products. Unfortunately, supply has been an issue as Stewart and Heaton has not supplied the volume of uniform required by NPWS. NPWS staff are working tirelessly to get the uniform distributed.

The NPVB would like to acknowledge the significant effort of staff to make this happen. In the meantime, the URG will be maintained for the foreseeable future to support this effort and the final stage of the roll-out, namely the sustainable handling of former uniforms with a focus on appropriate reuse.

Law Enforcement Working Group (LEWG)

The consultant’s report on NPWS law enforcement has been provided to the agency. NPWS staff responsible for this important duty are straining under the pressure of delivering without adequate resourcing.

There are currently 3 vacancies in SIU and this has been the case for a long time. There is usually 6 in the unit. This is grossly inadequate and unacceptable given the volume of work entailed in law enforcement. The NPVB believes that, to implement some of the recommendations of the consultant’s report, all vacancies need to be filled and the SIU numbers increased to 10 investigators. Also, lawyers with relevant experience in NPWS matters should be quarantined to NPWS and the ‘Duty Solicitor’ service reinstated.

Radio Working Group (RWG)

Progress has been slow on upgrading the network. Also, at the moment, the GRN radio system is not currently ‘fit for purpose’ of the NPWS. Hence the NPWS will not be transferring across to the GRN until it is a suitable system and can accommodate the needs of NPWS.

Office accommodation

There are significant issues with office accommodation. With a growing workforce managing new projects (such as rewilding, koalas, other threatened species, FAFT, walking track and facility upgrades) office space is at a premium. Further to this, with some new or upgraded offices there has been little or no consultation with staff by the contractors managing such projects (specifically in relation to the design of new offices).

Some offices now resemble call centres with only room for a laptop, headset and screen rather than places for staff to undertake a broad range of duties and store reference materials and equipment necessary for their role. The PSA is following up on reports of the lengthy failure of essential ventilation and lift services in the Armidale Faulkner St office and asks staff there to submit hazard reports in CAMMS.

Vertebrate Pest Control Programs 

Whilst the PSA supports the significant boost in resources for vertebrate pest control across NPWS reserves in NSW it has concerns with how some members are being remunerated for their involvement in such programs. Please remember that these are multi-million dollar projects! It is utterly unacceptable to the PSA for members to be told that there is no funding available for overtime, travel, accommodation and meals!

Further to this it’s a nonsense that overtime only starts outside of your (14 hour) bandwidth and that you’re not entitled to (or they’re not prepared to pay), field (camping) allowance or meals and hard-roofed accommodation if available.

If you have had or are having such issues please contact your local PSA NPWS delegate or log the issue with the PSA service centre on 1300 772 679 and we will deal with it.

Your PSA delegates are:

Ben Owers – NPVB Chair

Janet Cavanaugh – NPVB Secretary

Andy Leach – CAP & BD representative

Aimee Poole – Admin representative

Naomi Goosen – Women’s contact officer

Steve Carter – Field Officer representative

Peter Mylan

Alex Deura

Angela Lewis

Danny Corcoran

Martin Smith

Phuong Le

The position of Aboriginal representative remains vacant. Members interested in taking on this role should contact the PSA or one of the delegates.

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