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Home > News > 26th March HACSU Daily Update

26th March HACSU Daily Update

2020-03-26

Hello members,

 

Today we have updates for you in relation mainly to the disability sector. We’re seeing the impact of frequently changing Government policy and a privatised sector with hundreds of employers making changes daily. As a result, we’re providing significant advocacy in this space to ensure safety of both workers and clients both short and long term.

You will be pleased to know that we will be meeting with the Minister for Disability and Worksafe tomorrow to discuss the concerns raised in the letter we sent to the Minister’s Office earlier this week.

Thank-you to members who have provided further feedback to our officials around your concerns in this sector; we will also be raising these issues directly tomorrow. We hope to provide members with a response from the meeting tomorrow afternoon – stay tuned to find out more.


Aruma Members:

Yesterday, HACSU officials attended via video-call a meeting with Aruma management, to discuss the changes at Aruma, resulting from this virus. Aruma had been proactive in calling this meeting and inviting relevant union officials to ensure transparency around their work practices. At this stage we can report to members working at Aruma the following:

  • Group activities will be cancelled; day programs and community hubs will remain open for the week to assist clients to seek alternative options, as well as to and to plan for redeploying workers to group homes and other work;
  • Respite facilities will cease completely from today ;
  • Aruma have sourced a PPE supplier but don’t have a roll out date. Aruma policy dictates that workers will not be using full PPE unless already in use for other reasons or a client is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19
  • Supplies of soap and gloves were reported to be available now (please let us know if this is not the case);
  • Family visits are encouraged to be less than one hour, and families should call in advance to confirm attendance with workers; they should also take place in a designated space which should be thoroughly cleaned afterwards. Any visitors who have been overseas recently are not allowed ;
  • In terms of leave, a proposal has been put to the board as to the provision of both special paid leave (including for casuals) and for early access to long service leave . We will advise members as soon as we hear anything further relating to this.

 

Disability Worker Survey:

You may have recently completed a survey, prepared by the University of New South Wales in conjunction with HACSU, relating to your experiences working in the disability sector. This survey was extended and further questions added relating to your work during the time of COVID-19.

Thank-you to those members who completed the survey. The responses provided by HACSU members, as well as other disability workers across the country has provided us with substantial and concerning information about the state of the disability sector at this time.

We have reacted immediately after reviewing the concerning details in this survey and will be providing this (anonymous) information to Government officials. It will also be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting with the Minister for Disability.

 

The major themes we have drawn from the survey data are:

  1. An urgent lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) being supplied to workers and clients, and lack of appropriate safety protocols needed.
  2. Workers feel the disability sector has been dangerously overlooked in the COVID-19 response, and are worried about the impacts of lack of planning.
  3. Workers are extremely worried about safety of clients and themselves, especially where day programs remain in operation and group homes are not locked down.
  4. Disruption to clients’ routines and activities has created additional risks and concerns about client wellbeing.
  5. Workers are extremely anxious about the current situation; risk to mental health and wellbeing is a concern.
  6. Workforce issues and additional workloads are making it difficult to respond.

 

Scope Members:

This afternoon we have been asked Scope about the closure of day services and their plans for redeployment to residential disability services, in response to concerns raised by HACSU members working at Scope. We have advised Scope that if we are unable to get information from them, we will be seeking assistance from the Disability Minister to ensure we can provide clarity to HACSU members.

 

We’re also currently in discussions with United Workers Union and Australian Services Union, collectively calling on the Federal Government to address NDIS funding given the current circumstances. We’ve heard from members that in light of this virus, changes are needed to ensure that appropriate services can be provided to people with disabilities.

 

In lighter news, we wanted to share some of the positive responses we’re heard from members over the past couple of days. We’ve heard some amazing stories of HACSU members going beyond what is required for your community, including members who are determined to get supplies for clients, and HACSU delegates providing extensive support to other members. We’ve also had members contact us to volunteer their services in the health sector and provide much needed support in this challenging time.

We’re consistently astonished by the kindness and courage of HACSU members , and now in this time of vast need across the country, we’re so pleased to see the community spirit shining through within so many HACSU members. We’re prouder than ever of the incredible role each and every member plays both as a part of this great union, but also within your individual communities. From HACSU leaders, Paul Healey and Kate Marshall, and the rest of the HACSU team, we want to thank you all for your dedication and bravery. The union is our members.

 

In unity,
 

HACSU.