Trustee and Guardian & Office of the Public Guardian PSA Bulletin
As members would be aware the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has commenced a review of a fee structure of the NSW Trustee and Guardian. The Public Service Association lodged a submission at IPART, compiled with the assistance of the Advisory Committee. The Submission is a public document and can be located along with all other submissions and reports at the following link:
The submission brings attention to IPART that although NSWTG is an off budget agency it is subject to the same savings requirements as “on budget agencies” that are funded by Government consolidated revenue, and that the Government’s current $5.1million Community Service Obligation payments do not reflect the real cost of providing these obligations. These funding issues, combined with a significant increase in client numbers, has led to a reduction of members’ capacity to provide an appropriate service to some of the most vulnerable members in the community. The submission noted that in 2008 IPART recommended Government payment of $10.6million per year for the then Office of the Protective Commissioner.
As you would be aware IPART has released a draft report. The PSA shares similar concerns with NSWT&G management over various elements of this report, including clear inaccuracies and unworkable recommendations. The PSA recently participated in the Round Table discussion and will be making its own response to the draft report. A greater level of CSO funding is required to address workloads.
WHS – Health and Safety Representatives and Workgroups
Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) are new to NSW and play an important role in representing the health and safety interests of workers in a work group. A work group is a group of workers who share similar WHS concerns and conditions. NSWTG does not currently have HSRs or workgroups as defined by the legislation.
HSRs are different from NSWTG current Health and Safety Committee members. The role of WHS Committees is to provide a forum for consultation on the management of health and safety across the whole workforce (ie not just one work group). The PSA acknowledges the important consultative role of the current NSWTG Health and Safety Committee members, however under the legislation these members do not have the functions or the powers of a HSR which are to:
- represent workers in a work group on work health and safety (WHS) matters;
- monitor WHS actions taken by the Person Conducting a Business Undertaking (PCBU – in this instance NSWTG is the PCBU);
- investigate WHS complaints from workers of the work group; and
- look into anything that might be a risk to the WHS of the workers they represent.
- to direct unsafe work to stop when they have a reasonable concern that carrying out the work would expose a worker of their work group to a serious risk
- to issue a ‘Provisional Improvement Notice’ (PIN) when they reasonably believe there is a contravention of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).
NSWTG conducts a broad variety of activities across NSW in a number of locations. This creates a range of WHS needs and concerns for staff. Requesting the election of HSRs and forming workgroups consisting of workers with similar WHS concerns would provide more effective health and safety representation for members at NSWTG.
The PSA can support members to achieve a strong and responsive Health and Safety structure at NSWTG. To do this we need member involvement. We need people who are willing to request the election of HSRs, people to volunteer to become HSRs and people who are willing to participate in the process of determining workgroups. None of this is difficult or time consuming – and it will make NSWTG a safer place to work.
Workcover NSW has more detailed information and if you wish to know more go to:
Please contact any of your NSWTG Advisory Committee delegates to express your support for HSRs and workplace groups at NSWTG. In particular we need volunteers to become HSRs. Together we can make this happen!
Workers Compensation claims for psychological injury
Psychological injury claims are often called “stress” claims. The PSA has received a number of calls from members in relation to anxiety and stress. The PSA advises members to seek medical assistance. Speak to the PSA representative in your workplace if you have any questions in relation to the process.
A stress survey for TAG staff is being finalised and will come to members very soon. We recommend all members participate so that we can obtain a true account of stress in the workplace. The results of the survey will be provided to staff and presented to Management at the JCC.
Proposed call monitoring system
Members would be aware that NSWTG is getting a new telephone system which will include a call monitoring facility. The office has drawn on the experience of Law Access which has a similar system in place but which is a call centre whereas NSWTG is a client service facility. Concerns have been raised by the PSA that the call monitoring system could be used as a performance management tool, rather than for training/education purposes and complaint investigation (i.e. if there is a complaint by a client against a staff member in regard to a phone call). The PSA will keep members updated.
Training for members working in regional offices
The PSA is advocating for regional offices to receive training in a manner which will minimise the impact of travelling time, for example training on-site at the branch, overnight stays etc. Travel to and from Sydney with early starts and late finishes can mean up to 14-hour days for staff – well outside core hours.
Work performance issues
Work performance issues are raised in normal supervision. If members feel anxious about meeting with a supervisor re their work performance it is advised they use their right to have a support person with them.
The employer is required to take reasonable steps to advise the employee that the employee’s performance is unsatisfactory and the basis on which it is unsatisfactory.
So far five redundancies have been offered in NSWTG resulting in two offers being accepted, and three offers declined, one employee has become a displaced officer. For the other two cases the PSA negotiated their redeployment to permanent positions within NSWTG.
Under the Consultative Arrangements Policy and Guidelines 1997 all public sector organisations in NSW are obliged to consult with the PSA in regard to any change that affects work practices or conditions and the welfare of members. Please report to delegates any changes that you feel required consultation.
Delegations in Financial Management
Concerns have consistently been expressed by members that financial delegations result in extra work through the consequent necessity for submissions required to be sent up to the officer who has the correct delegation. Management has advised that Delegations are an ongoing issue. We have the opportunity to explore this issue with senior staff but need examples of where this is creating unnecessary extra work. So please advise examples to your PSA delegates.
Problems using ESS
There have been concerns raised by members about problems using ESS. Members are advised to report all problems using ESS to their supervisor/manager. If members feel that their concerns are not being dealt with, report the problem to your PSA delegate so that they may be raised with management at Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) or special purpose meetings.
A large number of PSA members from NSW Trustee Guardian (NSWT&G) attended the listening campaign run by the PSA at JPO Parramatta recently. Feedback from the NSWT&G members is very encouraging as the PSA has been dealing with a large number of issues within the agency over the past couple of years both collectively and individually.
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