Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) members at Forensicare will stop work on Tuesday 7 December from 12PM-2PM, with the largest action to take place at Thomas Embling Hospital.
After 18 months of bargaining, no substantial offer has been made to forensic mental health workers — a workforce who have continued to work throughout a pandemic, facing massive issues with understaffing and safety.
Mental health workers at Forensicare have continued to meet the needs of consumers with complex mental health issues, who have had interactions with the justice system. HACSU members have continued this important work while also grappling with several serious COVID-19 outbreaks within the service.
An offer has been made to the general mental health services — but these specialist services are being left behind.
Forensicare is one of the most challenging mental health settings to be employed in, which has been compounded by severe understaffing. As a result, staff have continued to leave the service to work elsewhere due to fatigue and serious Occupational Health and Safety concerns.
Bargaining has been unproductive and has stalled. It is HACSU’s view that this is not a good faith negotiation and shows that the Victorian Government does not value their work.
It is imperative that members working in forensic mental health are afforded safety in terms of staffing, workload, and occupational violence. In order to fix the staffing crisis, conditions relating to pay, career structures and pay parity must be solidified to recruit, attract, and retain staff.
HACSU welcomes $349.6 million expansion and upgrade of the Thomas Embling Hospital and the 550 jobs created in construction. However, we’re waiting for the Victorian Government to give us a meaningful plan on how they intend to recruit and retain mental health workers to this sector. Unless an immediate recruitment and retention plan is put into place by the Victorian Government, critical services like Forensicare will fall apart.
HACSU members have heard politicians thanking and celebrating the mental health workforce at every opportunity they can, particularly in light of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
Today the mental health workforces at Forensicare are asking these same politicians to stop celebrating them and start standing with them.
Quotes attributable to HACSU Assistant State Secretary Kate Marshall
“The government are clearly dragging their feet on this issue. HACSU members at Forensicare deserve more respect in regard to the complexity of their work caring for vulnerable and sometimes violent consumers.”
Media Contact: Stephanie Thuesen, 0436 363 612, firstname.lastname@example.org