PSA update for National Parks and Wildlife Service members - Public Service Association

PSA update for National Parks and Wildlife Service members

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) met on Monday 25 March 2024 to discuss a range of issues including:

NPWS briefing by Atticus Fleming, NPWS Deputy Secretary

The meeting was advised that the budget climate will be challenging next financial year with no detail as to the impact on the NPWS budget.

NPWS continues to work with the PSA on wild horse issues impacting members. The Department is tracking social media to ensure threats and abuse of members is minimised.

The PSA raised the issue of a detailed report on the People Matter Employment Survey (PMES) survey not being distributed. This issue has now been rectified and a copy of the report is available on the intranet.

The PSA was also critical of the stagnant number of NPWS Rangers, despite the significant increase to National Park estate in NSW. Only two new Ranger roles have been created – one in Bourke and another in Broken Hill – to service the new reserves out west. The PSA believes more Rangers are needed.

Recruitment for the 100 new roles announced by the Minister last year won’t commence until 2025. Although originally promised to be ‘field staff’, NPWS is planning for them to be a mix of roles. The final mix will be dependent on Treasury funding within the Labour Expense Cap.

Planning for the Great Koala National Park is underway, both in terms of its boundaries and also in terms of resourcing, to ensure its declaration will come with a package of resources sufficient for NPWS to effectively manage the park.

The PSA will continue to advocate for adequate staff and operational resources for any proposed new park, including office and depot areas suitable for NPWS’s varied land and wildlife management roles. The inadequacy of space at both Coffs Harbour and in the new depot at Dorrigo was raised with Mr Fleming.

WHS update

The meeting was provided with an update on a new suite Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) procedures being developed for NPWS and also the current noise-monitoring program, which has commenced with assessing noise levels experienced by operators working with heavy plant.

A new role in NPWS to coordinate the delivery of the ongoing WHS training has been established. Wherever possible, training will be brought to the branches. The PSA raised concerns that most WHS staff servicing NPWS and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) are working in the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) but were assured that WHS has been one of the least impacted business functions from the Machinery of Government changes. An update was provided by Chris Hangar on what was happening with other parts of Corporate Services, such as recruitment, payroll and procurement. These are being provided by DPHI under ‘continuity of service’ arrangements. A service partnership agreement between DPHI and DCCEEW is still being negotiated.

Law enforcement and compliance

The PSA had raised concerns about ensuring there is adequate support provided by Legal Services and the Specialist Investigations Unit, given the new arrangements between DCCEEW and DPHI.

Legal Services is currently preparing a DCCEEW-wide MoU with NSW Police. A draft MoU will be ready for review across all parts of DCCEEW in the coming weeks. The PSA requested that the MoU cover the delivery of law-enforcement training by the Police and also assistance with on-ground operational compliance for both on-park and wildlife related matters. Your union recommended  the Law Enforcement Working Group be consulted on the draft.

The PSA requested an update on the development of the new wildlife licensing policy and procedures, and highlighted the lack of role-specific training for staff expected to administer and check on wildlife licences.

Public Sector Network radio rollout

The meeting was informed that most equipment for the Public Sector Network rollout has been purchased, including around 452 vehicle units and 642 handheld radios. The installation of the new radios is occurring and some resources are apparently now available on ParkSite. However, the PSA highlighted that training in the new system also needs to be rolled out and is concerned that delivery of this training has been not yet occurred.

Project Officer issues

Since Future NPWS, the PSA has consistently identified structural issues with the new Project Officer roles and, over the past few months, PSA has pointed to the large number of new project officer roles created in Park Operations that seem to have been created instead of Ranger roles. Structural issues with the clerical-graded Project Officer roles include lack of career progression opportunities in specialist rather than team leader roles, and relatively inexperienced staff being recruited in temporary roles at the Clk Gd 7/8 level. The meeting was informed that just over 50 per cent of staff in Clk Gd 7/8 roles had responded to the Career Progression Survey and their issues were being addressed by actions in the Career Progression Action Plan. These included improving opportunities for part-time job share arrangement and temporary assignments. The PSA was promised further information on the Career Progression Action Plan but this has not yet been provided.

Reminder – apply for your Boot Allowance

A boot allowance is payable to any employee who works in the field where suitable boots are not provided by the department. The allowance is to be a maximum of $200.50 per pair of boots, on condemnation of the previous pair, endorsed by the Area Manager or Branch Director of NPWS.

The completed form and supporting documentation/receipts must be submitted to

Two easy things you can do to support your union

  1. Support the work of the PSA and delegates by asking your colleagues to JOIN their union.
  2. If members you work with have not received this bulletin, forward the survey link to them and ask them to update their details HERE.

If you have any questions about this bulletin please contact the Member Support Centre on 1800 772 679.


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