We’re reaching out to give you an update regarding the COVID-19 virus, what we know and changes to operations at the Health and Community Services Union.
Yesterday, today and late last week, we met with officials from several authorities about the current situation. We want to assure members that you have a voice through your union, and we are taking all actions to ensure that voice is heard.
In talks with the Office of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, as well as in meetings with the Minister for Disability, we have asked questions about disability support workers working in group homes and the specific risks faced by this workforce. Once we receive information back, we will update members promptly.
Meeting with the Mental Health Branch of DHHS, we raised the suggestion that all change impact statements (CIS) unrelated to COVID-19 and not related to staff or patient safety be put on hold for the time being. We have also asked that safety protocols be strengthened for CAT and other mental health outreach clinicians to ensure that any potential consumers being visited are triaged appropriately, with the inclusion of questions pertaining to risk of exposure to COVID-19. We have been advised that the Department will work on ensuring these requests are actioned quickly.
We also met with the ACTU today to discuss the state of industrial matters across the country. The ACTU has launched this website to provide workers with national updates on the impact this virus may have on workers and your Occupational Health and Safety.
The ACTU has also asked the federal Government that all workers be provided with access to two weeks of ‘special leave’ to ensure that no one is out of pocket at what is a worrying time for workers.
Please support the ACTU’s ask by signing and sharing this petition with your networks. By signing the petition, you’re helping to show the Australian Government that, like thousands of other Australian workers, you believe no one should suffer financially as a result of this virus.
Regarding operations at HACSU, we wanted to let you know that given the circumstances we’re shutting our office to all non-essential visitors and HACSU officials are working from home/on the road for the time being as a means of implementing social distancing strategies.
This decision was made to minimise risk of illness to our officials, as well minimising risk of us contacting with immunocompromised people with disabilities and/or people in hospitals where we might normally visit. What this means in practical terms is:
To reiterate, access to HACSU services will not change; members will still have access to all services, but the means of access will change for the time being.
Circumstances are changing rapidly, and this will include industrially. Any members experiencing concerns at work are encouraged to contact us over the phone or via email. It’s normal to feel worried, and while we’re here to share that burden with you, we expect our officials to be treated with kindness and respect. We might not have an answer for you straight away, so please be patient with us while we continue to gather information for you as quickly as we can.
We are here for HACSU members now and will be in the future. We’re working hard internally and in discussions with Government officials and other trade unions across the country to ensure that workers rights are held paramount in this time of crisis.
Please help to remind your colleagues to use social distancing where possible, exercise proper hygiene and access resources available to you, listed below.
From Paul and Kate, we want to reiterate that your union is here for you and we encourage you to get in touch with us directly if you’re worried. Take care of each other, practice kindness and be courageous; together, we will get through this as a strong collective union.
Paul Healey, State Secretary
Kate Marshall, Assistant State Secretary
We are available business hours on 1300 651 931 or via firstname.lastname@example.org