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Letter from the Secretary: Preparing Strong Foundations for 2024



Dear HACSU Members,

I hope this letter finds you well. It’s hard to believe that 2023 is already coming to a close. These last few months were jampacked with bargaining, reforms, and activism. It strikes me that our union had two great tasks this year; sustaining workers and preparing strong foundations for the future. Here is a snapshot of what HACSU achieved.

2023 by the numbers


800 worksites visited

22 EBAs bargained or in the works

1,100 new inductees and graduates

102 Spring Street meeting

22 Bring-Your-MP-To-Work days

21,000 calls and 27,000 emails handled by ASSIST

Spreading the wins

All this activity was focused on improving the disability, mental health, and AOD sectors. It was a year of many successes. HACSU was the first union in health to make use of new supported bargaining legislation. It’s a significant breakthrough for smaller workplaces.

As always, it's you, our members, who lead with expertise and experience. Mental Health workers championed our current Meal Break clause dispute at the Fair Work Commission. They identified the underpayment, held a townhall meeting, and voted for action. Bravo.

The MEA rollover was massive. As was slotting all the EBAs. But it’s not just happening at the enterprise level. The year was full of discrete wins for you. Reclassifications (always upwards) and the implementation of flexible work arrangements have made a world of difference.

We’ve worked tirelessly to push forward your reproductive rights. Five days of paid reproductive health leave is now in three EBAs with more to come. This is just the beginning; we have national costings being undertaken for said leave with the assistance of Curtin University.

The year of working sustainably


We're committed to building sustainable workforces. This inspires our projects to develop workers and recognise their skills. The Centre of Disability Excellence is a central plank. So is celebrating workers in Disability Support Worker Week. And we want sustainable workplaces by helping guide workers through changes in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, Disability Royal Commission, and NDIS Review. You can read our breakdown of the NDIS Review here.

Sustainability also means ensuring you're safe at work. Our partnership with Hunterlink is a gamechanger. Many of you turn up every day to challenging workplaces. It is vitally important that you have dedicated, independent support. That can mean anything from critical incident responses to just blowing off steam after a shift. We encourage you and your families to make use of this free service.

Finally, some things can only be solved by time off work. Our Delegates and Activists Conference was a fantastic opportunity to see you form new friendships and let your hair down.

Laying firm foundations

2023 marked a decade of the NDIS. It is far from perfect, but HACSU has been at the coalface pushing for positive changes. And much of the year has been spent in deep collaboration with our members, not to mention partners in the NGO sector and government, to prepare for tomorrow. The next two years will be monumental for HACSU. Negotiations begin on the new Mental Health EBA next year and the end of the DSEAV in 2025. Major industrial battles alongside the overall shifts in disability that will emerge from the NDIS Review and Royal Commission. All of those surveys, townhalls, and conferences are held for good reason: to create an evidence base for the next deal. Our discipline-specific reference groups further this good work. Your contributions are not just welcome; they are necessary.

We have marched, bargained, and celebrated your achievements. I look forward to walking alongside you in 2024. I will be in touch after the break to discuss our huge year ahead. For now, have a safe holiday season.

From HACSU to you and yours: thank you, comrades.

In unity,

Paul Healey,
HACSU State Secretary