As our members working in mental health know, we have been bargaining on your behalf for a new Public Sector Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA). While many of our claims are progressing well, our claims for members working in administration have been met with silence. In light of this, we decided to highlight the amazing work that our members working in administration do, and why their roles are much more important than people think.
After finishing Year 12, Dominic Wasiek wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to take in his career. However, he did know a few people who worked in the mental health sector. After chatting to them about their experiences, Dominic applied for a position at Mercy Health’s Saltwater Clinic in their administration department and hasn’t looked back since, notching up his 10th year in the position.
But instead of celebrating this significant milestone, Dominic instead had to endure a stressful year, with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting him hard in particular.
“Working on the forefront in admin, you deal with a lot of the abuse and threats from clients,” he says.
“You basically deal with all the behaviour they have before they get where they need to get to with a case manager. I actually got threatened about three times this year, one after the other and within about two months of each other. Due to that, I had to end up seeking some medical advice from my GP. He ended up deeming me eligible for some stress leave. In that aspect, 2020 was mentally damaging. That process was very, very stressful. I did get frightened here and there. I did have to gain that confidence and courage to come back to work and deal with the same clients the next day.”
Unfortunately, Dominic says this is a regular occurrence for people working in mental health administration. Compounded with a “tripled” workload, it’s safe to say it’s been a tough year for many people in those positions.
“Because we’re the forefront of the service, we filter a lot of threats and abuse,” Dominic says.
“We then have to calm down the clients, talk to them and find out why they’re here. We have a reputation to uphold. We have to look good, speak well, de-escalate situations and scenarios and even answer phone calls about suicide attempts.”
This is why HACSU strongly believes that better protection and working conditions should be provided for its mental health members working in administration. Once Dominic saw what HACSU was doing for its members, he didn’t hesitate to join.
“I turned to HACSU in a time of stress,” he says.
“They were able to speak on my behalf while I got the help I needed. I signed up because of an issue earlier this year and that issue got resolved within a week. Ever since then, I’ve just boasted about the union and spoke about how well HACSU represents itself and how strong it fights for its members. I’ve recruited four or five members since joining the union myself.”
If you’d like to join Dominic and have your rights at work protected, join HACSU now!