The Victims Services Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) was held on 20 September 2021 and was attended by Michelle Vaughan (Commissioner), Annette Farrell (Director), James Gordon (Director, HR Business Partner), Dean Allen (Industrial Officer, PSA), Alex Sala (PSA Organiser) and Nathan Rodrigues (PSA Delegate). The following is a summary of the meeting.
Management advised that Vicarious Trauma Training and Debrief sessions have been made available to staff. However, to date, no staff have accessed the debrief services. This issue was discussed at the previous JCC meeting held on 21 June 2021 and the PSA reiterated that a risk assessment for psychosocial hazards should be completed as an integral part of the department’s staff wellbeing initiatives.
Management also advised that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider will be changed and that DCJ will now be using Converge EAP Services.
Staff vacancies update
The PSA requested a standing JCC agenda item for an update of staff vacancies. On 20 September 2021, management provided an updated Organisation Chart which can be found HERE. We request that you view this document and provide your feedback as soon as possible through a PSA member survey. The survey is discussed further below, and you can take the survey HERE.
The PSA informed management that we will obtain member feedback. Management questioned why that would be necessary.
The PSA is highly concerned about the impact of the information in the Organisation Chart and we draw your attention for example, to the apparent omission of at least one team (the Review Project Team) and the highlighted roles including the four (4) roles marked in purple and the nine (9) roles marked in yellow. Management advised that the roles marked purple are ‘ongoing program vacancies with no backfill’ and will not be filled, and that there is no current recruitment action for the roles marked in yellow.
Consultation issue regarding changes to staff duties, roles and organisational structure
We advise by way of background that members recently reported significant concerns to the PSA regarding extensive major changes to staff duties, roles and the organisational structure at Victims Services, including, for example:
- Roles being deleted or remaining unfilled after vacancy
- Senior staff have been replaced by staff at a lower grade but are expected to fulfill the same duties
- Changes in reporting lines
- Changes to duties that are not commensurate with the grade or role description
- Increased workload with no consultation or workload analysis provided
- Lack of training, support or advance notice of changes to duties and responsibilities.
The PSA wrote to management in August 2021 and requested an urgent consultation meeting in order to clarify the nature and rationale of the recent changes and to discuss strategies to address the impact on our members.
Management responded that they were ‘unclear’ of recent staffing changes, or changes to the Victims Services organisational structure dated August 2020, or of any severe impact upon members including in relation to additional workload or consequent health impacts.
The PSA provided further detail to management by way of anonymized members accounts of changes to the previous Organisation Chart (August 2020) including restructuring to at least eight (8) teams and the deletion or vacancy of at least 15 roles across the organization. The PSA urgently requested various documentation including an updated Organisation Chart and a meeting to discuss members concerns including increased workloads and adverse health impacts.
The PSA subsequently met with VS management and conveyed member concerns regarding the impact of the above restructuring undertaken by management without consultation with the PSA. Management requested identification of specific employees adversely impacted by the restructuring, in an attempt to intimidate and isolate our members who have the courage to raise these issues. The PSA rejected this request to name individual members, instead pointing out that we have provided more than enough information on legitimate issues that require consideration and response.
Discussion at the JCC meeting – Management maintained it is unaware of any staff adversely affected by recent restructuring including where staff may have not been provided with clear duties, or a workload assessment or clear expectations or training in respect of their new roles. In particular, management very strongly contended that contrary to member feedback provided to the PSA that it remains unaware of any adverse impact upon the health and wellbeing of staff directly affected by extensive recent restructuring by Victims Services.
Consequently, management claimed it is unable to address issues relating to increased workloads or adverse impacts upon the health and wellbeing of staff unless the PSA directly identifies impacted staff. The PSA made it very clear we will not identify any members without their express permission to do so. However, there has been more than enough information for management to act on.
As a result of this dismissive approach to legitimate issues, the PSA has developed a short survey for you to provide feedback regarding these issues. We strongly recommend you to take the time to let us know your thoughts by participating in a member survey
Please take the time to complete the survey so that the PSA can then collate your responses for further discussion with VS management. The PSA reminds you that if you are not comfortable approaching management in the first instance, you can always contact your union for further assistance.
Induction sessions for new employees
The PSA requested access to any upcoming induction sessions for new staff members of the Department in order to present information on the PSA and our activities. The PSA and PSA Delegates have a legal right to carry out union organising activities within the Department. Similarly, the Department has a legal obligation to advise the PSA, including Delegates. of the dates of new staff-induction sessions to enable the PSA to arrange representation at the sessions.
Management advised that many new staff members were being inducted on a one-on-one basis and by video conferencing due to current pandemic restrictions. In the meantime, it was proposed that the PSA could also utilise lunchtime PSA meetings as an opportunity to present information on the PSA and our activities to any new staff members of the department. Management indicated that some of the Department’s induction materials are not up to date and that an updated information pack will be produced.
The strength of the union is determined by its membership and delegates in the workplace. If you are interested in a role, or participating in any way please contact your delegate Nathan Rodrigues at or: