The National Parks Vocational Branch met on Tuesday 9 May to discuss a range of issues including:
Special Investigations Unit and Law enforcement in the National Parks and Wildlife Service
Further discussion was had on the resourcing of this unit and where it should sit in the Department of Planning and the Environment. The National Parks Vocational Branch (NPVB) believes it should be moved into the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), as 90 per cent of its work is NPWS business. It should report to an Executive Director and its resources be increased. The unit continues to struggle in dealing with a significantly increased workload, with only a handful of officers in the unit. The NPVB also continues to advocate for additional staff to be added to this unit. There should be one Special Investigator for each branch and the unit should have additional support staff.
Vertebrate Pest Control Program
We are reinforcing our previous messages to members on the provision of overtime for this program. Overtime is available to members involved in this program who work additional hours. Please submit your claims to your supervisor and advise the PSA if your claim is not approved and/or paid.
Task Based Assessment for fire fitness
A PSA bulletin has been circulated on this matter. However, please be advised that the PSA’s position is that medical retirement is NOT an option for those that the department deems necessary to ‘medically retire’ if they cannot undertake the moderate Task Based Assessment (TBA). There are plenty of other fire roles for these members to perform at such incidents that do not necessarily require a moderate TBA.
NPVB Women’s Representative Naomi Goosen met with staff at Hill End to discuss Work Health and Safety (WHS) issues with the Blue Mountains Branch WHS committee. Tony Clark is the BMB HSR on the committee. The meeting was advised that the Minister for the Environment, The Hon Penny Sharp MLC, has indicated that there should be gender parity on these committees.
Ranger Competencies Working Group
NPVB Chairperson Ben Owers is on this working group. The focus of the group is to streamline the competencies as many are outdated and training no longer exists for some of the competencies. The group is currently drafting a new set of competencies for consideration. The PSA will continue to be an active participant in the group.
Aboriginal Ranger Trainee Program
The PSA has been approached by NPWS management about ways to support Trainee Rangers. Most importantly, the issues surrounding tertiary qualifications for participants; type of qualification and how they are supported to attain such qualifications. The NPVB believes participants need strong support from NPWS; the tertiary institutions and mentors to undertake their studies successfully. This has been lacking in previous attempts to develop such a program. Under the NPWS Award trainee Rangers should be given the opportunity to complete a three-year degree while gaining work experience.
Senior Field Officer roles recruitment process – Kosciuszko National Park
There has been a range of issues with the recruitment of these roles, specifically with the timeliness of the process and applicants not being advised of the outcomes of the recruitment process. Applicants were not advised that both the Blowering and Jindabyne roles had not been filled until such time as an email was circulated by management to all staff on the outcomes of the recruitment process.
The meeting discussed the continuing and significant increase in the administrative workload in branches. Some branches are now tasking their administrative staff with ordering all PPE for fires for the branch. This is an onerous task that should not be dumped on the already overworked and under resourced administration staff.
The 2018 Future National Parks process has been an abject failure when it comes to administrative staff workloads. The PSA would like to hear from administrative staff who perform duties outside their role description and/or beyond their capacity to complete such tasks.
As the PSA continues to raise these issues, we require examples where these excessive workloads exist. The PSA understands that these issues are not limited to one branch but are a common concern across the state therefore any feedback from members will be treated in confidence.