Recently the PSA attended a meeting with the Executive Director of Heritage NSW, Pauline McKenzie, to discuss various matters affecting members. In attendance was your PSA Senior Industrial Officer Kerrie Butson, PSA Organiser Davis Murphy, PSA Delegate Mary Ann Hamilton as well as STL Divisional Coordinator Jacqueline Hyslop.
The following is an update on discussions:
- PSA representatives informed Pauline McKenzie that there had been an election of two new PSA delegates, Rob Kelly and Brad Welsh. It was noted that the election of these two delegates would be in a good position to represent the issues of staff who are based in the Regions.
- Pauline McKenzie acknowledged that the Heritage in Transition report with input from the forum held in Wollongong in July 2019 had not been circulated, and made an undertaking to rectify this as soon as possible.
- The ongoing problem of work load distribution between teams. The ED acknowledged that yes it was still a problem. She also acknowledged that the current workload analysis is not the most sophisticated tool and would not provide information on differential volumes of work distributed to teams by itself or provide definitive data but said it was a starting point. The ED also noted that they were currently considering alternative ways of dividing up the work between teams and hinted at possible reconfigurations of teams or adjustment of team composition as part of the solution. Other strategies were being discussed to alleviate the workload issue such as:
- Giving local councils delegation to do some Heritage Council approvals,
- Working on more extensive Heritage Council exemptions
- Streamlining the listing processes so as to triage inadequate or unsuitable nominations earlier and establishing a method of prioritising nominations against measures such as themes, threat etc.
- Streamlining the writing of and review process for Conservation Management Plans.
It is hoped that the initiatives should go some way to reduce some of the work load. The ED noted that the base line for not taking on the adjustment of team composition was the fact that the budgets were still unclear and may impact on staff numbers. This may include contract and temporary roles being reviewed. No changes to teams would take place until resourcing issues were clear with the allocation of the budget to Heritage NSW.
- Government savings requirements and budget. The ED noted that she was not aware of a timeline for budgets to be finalised for this 2019-2020 financial year.
- Future Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meetings between the PSA and Heritage NSW. Considering the MoG changes placing Heritage NSW in to the Department of Premier & Cabinet (DPC) discussions regarding the need for regular consultative meetings was had, with the ED agreeing that such scheduled discussions would be useful. Following the meeting the PSA can now report that Heritage NSW will be included in the Department of Premier & Cabinet JCC. It is proposed that the first meeting will be scheduled for February 2020. Further details will be provided to members regarding PSA representatives on this JCC.
- DPIE archaeologists and Aboriginal Planning Officers. The ED noted that as of the date of the meeting no information or decision around this issue was available. It was the view of the ED that these staff would eventually become part of Heritage NSW. One of the reasons given for the delay in any decision on this could be due to senior management dealing with the level of risk that would transfer with the staff as the functions are regulatory rather than administrative functions. The meeting was informed though that preliminary discussions had taken place with regard to accommodation for these staff if they were to transfer and relocate to Parramatta. Early thoughts on this matter was that the 19 staff would relocate as a unit and would report to a Manager. Budget, functions and any adjustments to the structure would form part of a review and this may include a review of the whole structure of Heritage NSW.
- Discussion of the rating system for PDP. The PSA raised a number of questions regarding the PDP system, in particular the rating component of it. The ED noted that, judging from the questions raised by the PSA there appears to be a misconception regarding the rating system – it is not intended as a competitive system but a reflection of the current level of development of the staff member in regard to the level of competency required for the role. The lack of privacy in a group discussion of an individual’s competencies was raised with the PSA assured that the rating is not a part of the formal work record. It was agreed that many of the questions would be clarified with the training that was to be provided. This training was to be scheduled in the next few weeks.
- WHS Committee. The PSA discussed the members wish to establish an elected WHS committee that works across the Heritage Division rather than be limited to the building. This is due to the needs of Heritage NSW as a regulatory agency which undertakes remote and site work and also that we have a significant number of Aboriginal Officers with specific WHS needs. This model has been discussed with the HNSW compliance officer who recently rolled out the new WHS policies and who is also supportive of this model. Members wanted the committee to be an elected committee rather than an appointed committee. The ED also supported this proposal. It was agreed that the DPC guidelines on establishing a WHS Committee would be reviewed. The PSA will follow this up.
- The Keeping Place (to be renamed Ready to Return Place) and library. The Ready to Return Place is to be housed in the room where the library shelving was previously and the two quiet rooms will be available for members of the public and appropriate members of the Aboriginal community to view items. The Ready to Return Place will be kept locked but the quiet rooms will remain available for staff to book. Bookings for members of the public and Aboriginal community will be made by Divisional Coordinator who will meet individuals and groups and take them to the rooms they have booked. They will also escort visitors off the premises at the end of visits. The ED suggested that further discussion and ideas on how to access any available Librarian/library task resources from DPC Community Engagement will be had in order to assist with the management of the library.
- Regional relocations. Discussions were had regarding relocations to other offices of agencies in the DPC cluster where they existed in the regions, in particular the ramifications for The Keeping Place and storage for conservation projects etc. The ED informed the meeting that all needs would be taken into consideration and MOUs or new leases would be negotiated to ensure all relevant needs were met. It was also noted by the ED that some rationalisation storage needs could happen on a regular basis to maintain manageable levels of storage space. Vehicle access would also be subject to ongoing regular reviews. It was clarified that the Gosford office was not to be relocated to Newcastle. The current building is being refurbished and Heritage NSW staff are included in future accommodation fit outs.
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