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Victorian Mental Health workers to stop work state-wide in fight for improved working conditions


The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has this week written to the Victorian Hospitals' Industrial Association (VHIA), giving notice that HACSU members will be taking coordinated ‘stop-work’ action next month as part of its campaign for a new public sector EBA for Victoria’s mental health workforce. HACSU is Victoria’s specialist union for workers in mental health, disability, and drug and alcohol services, and represents over 10,000 members.

On May 26th 2021, thousands of mental health workers from 15 Area Mental Health Services across Victoria will have the right to undertake legally protected stop-work action. HACSU members will be assembling at Victorian Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, before marching to Parliament House.

In February 2020, HACSU served a Log of Claims on the VHIA, outlining the bargaining position of HACSU members for their next multi-year EBA. Multiple proposals were put forward; encompassing staffing, workload, safety, pay, conditions, career structures and pathways, greater prominence and protections for Victoria’s growing lived experience workforce, and measures to address systemic health and safety failures in Victorian public hospitals.

HACSU also proposed a landmark reproductive health and wellbeing clause that has garnered significant political support and media attention.

Bargaining with the Department of Health and with the VHIA, the industrial body representing the Victorian, is progressing at a glacial pace with little oversight. We call on the Victorian Andrews Government to intervene in the bargaining process, in order to bring much-needed changes to the mental health system via a fair and progressive EBA.

HACSU members will be protesting outside Parliament on May 26th from 1.30pm.

Quotes attributable to HACSU State Secretary Paul Healey

“After a year of being named as ‘pandemic heroes’ and ‘essential workers’, the mental health workforce is being flatly ignored. This is unconscionable. This failure to agree a fair and progressive EBA for the mental health workforce is perpetuating chronic staffing shortages, and making it impossible to attract and retain the very workers that are needed to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission”.

Quotes attributable to HACSU Assistant State Secretary Kate Marshall

“The mental health workforce is on the front lines of a very real, and escalating, mental health crisis here in Victoria. HACSU members deserve a fair, progressive EBA that reflects the skill and complexity of their work, and a government that pays attention to their needs and expectations.”

Media Contact:

Róisín McGee, HACSU Media & Communications Officer

0499 221 525