We know HACSU members are doing it tough during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the mental health and disability systems are broken, leading to more stress and anxiety.
A survey conducted by the Royal Melbourne Hospital highlighted those struggles, with over 10,000 healthcare workers providing their input so far. Sixty-one per cent of respondents reported anxiety, 58 per cent reported being burnt out and 28 per cent reporting depression.
In turn, this means that HACSU mental health members, in particular, are becoming the "new frontline", dealing with the onset of mental illness following the pandemic. Speaking to ABC Radio on Friday, HACSU State Secretary Paul Healey outlined how important it is to keep our members in work and to reward them with the support they deserve.
"It's a desperate system," Healey said. "You can't afford to lose anybody. The skills the workers have and the energy and the care they provide, you just can't replace it. These people are irreplaceable. We need to support them and keep as many in the workforce as possible. It's a very fragile system and we need to put more energy into growing it."
While Healey acknowledged the importance of the recent funding announcements for mental health, both by the Victorian Government and in the federal budget, he recognises that staffing numbers are inadequate in comparison to the number of people presenting to mental health facilities. Therefore, staff need to be supported now more than ever to be able to continue to save the lives of many people.
"This is a system under strain," Healey said. "The staff are under a lot of stress and also, there's a lot of trauma involved in the work they do. It's really pushing people to the edge. I know everyone's trying their best. I know they don't want to fail the clients they're looking after."
HACSU members are reminded that your union family is always here for you. If you're ever struggling, have a concern about your workload or about an incident at work, HACSU Assist is always ready to listen on 9340 4100 or 1300 651 931. For further support, you can always phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.