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EBA update 7: Public sector mental health services negotiations continue

EBA update 7: Public sector mental health services negotiations continue

Negotiations update

Weekly discussions started on 14 May for a new public sector mental health services enterprise agreement.

These negotiations are between ANMF (Vic Branch), the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association (VHIA), the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU).

To progress negotiations the parties agreed to the department’s offer to provide a mediator. Former Fair Work Commissioner Mr David Gregory attended negotiations on 13 August and is assisting the parties.

Mr Gregory has now facilitated a further five bargaining meetings and we are pleased to report that the negotiations have since been progressing positively and productively.

ANMF member claims are aimed at improving entitlements, conditions and physical and psychological safety for nurses working in public mental health services. Claims include ensuring the achievements secured in the Victorian public sector nurses and midwives 2020-2024 enterprise agreement are also included in the public sector mental health services and Forensicare agreements.

The responses to ANMF claims broadly range from agreeing in principle e.g. to a four-year agreement, increased paid parental leave, offer of employment at the end of graduate programs and amending clauses to provide overtime rates for casuals working past their rostered shift.

Discussions relating to ANMF claims for mandated staffing profiles, improvements to the Community Workload Management System clause and broadening Assertive Outreach Teams remain ongoing.

The VHIA has also identified claims that may be connected to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. To progress discussion about these matters, VHIA has proposed a facilitation clause for the parties to consider as a way of managing the impact of any royal commission recommendations on ANMF claims or matters already contained in the public sector mental health services enterprise agreement.

HACSU continues to dispute ANMF’s participation at discussions for what they consider to be non-nursing claims. The lack of detail about these claims does not allow ANMF to make an informed decision about whether they will impact directly or indirectly on nursing.

ANMF has identified HACSU claims that are either nursing-related or have an impact on nursing and has requested to be present at those bargaining meetings.

We have also identified some HACSU claims that we currently understand to be suitable for separate discussions. However, in respect to those claims it is our expectation we are provided copies of:

  1. any proposed draft clauses
  2. information provided as part of discussion around these claims, and
  3. minutes from any discussions held in relation to the claims.

In order to progress bargaining, ANMF has agreed for HACSU to attend one meeting with VHIA, DHHS and Mr Gregory to discuss these claims. This will occur on Thursday 24 September with ANMF to be provided with an agenda ahead of the meeting and with a full report back after this meeting. There is a commitment that no agreements will be made without ANMF at the table.

Proposed timeline to conclude a new agreement

In order to progress bargaining, Mr Gregory had also proposed that all parties give consideration to a timeline to complete discussions and conclude a new agreement by mid-October. At our meeting on 17 September all parties agreed to work towards this deadline. This includes meeting multiple times per week in order to agree on proposed clauses and shared interests. The ANMF remains committed to working towards concluding a new agreement that will deliver outcomes to make it better, safer and fairer for mental health nurses and the Victorian community.

HACSU protected industrial action ballot

Whilst ANMF is aware of HACSU’s application for a protected industrial action ballot, we are satisfied with the progress of bargaining for members’ claims at this stage without the need to consider industrial action.

ANMF members have contacted the ANMF as they have received information from the AEC about HACSU’s industrial action ballot. Members are advised that only HACSU members are eligible to participate in the ballot. As your employer does not know who is a HACSU member and who is not, the AEC notice is brought to all staff’s attention. Unless you are a member of HACSU you need take no further steps.

Virtual job rep meeting – 30 September

The ANMF will hold a job rep meeting to update reps on negotiations including the status of key claims. This meeting is for job reps in public sector mental health inpatient and community services.
Save the date – Wednesday 30 September, 3pm – 4.30pm
An invitation will be sent to Job Reps next week.

Become a Job Rep

If you wish to nominate a colleague to be a job rep, or to be nominated yourself, please download the form.

Forensicare talks

The Forensicare negotiations also take place between ANMF (Vic Branch), VHIA, DHHS and HACSU. In addition, the Victorian Psychologists Association Inc /Health Services Union Victoria No. 4 Branch (VPA) is also a bargaining representative and has tabled a log of claims.

Forensicare bargaining has been postponed while the Mental Health EBA discussions are progressed. Many of the claims are common between both ANMF log of claims so we do not expect this to delay the Forensicare EBA. It is anticipated that Forensicare bargaining will recommence shortly.

Job Reps and HSRs

ANMF Organisers continue to make contact with ANMF Job Reps and members to obtain some information relating to our claims, and may be in contact with you again during our EBA campaign. ANMF is aware of the stressful work environment currently, so thank you for your assistance.

Stay informed and involved

Members are encouraged to ensure ANMF has your correct workplace and contact details. You can update your details via the Member Portal

If you are not receiving ANMF’s EBA email updates you may have unsubscribed from our communications, get back in touch.

Mental health royal commission

Members will be aware the Andrews Government has given the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System an extension. The final report is now due February 2021 instead of October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ANMF officials recently met with the royal commission’s chief executive officer, Jodie Geissler, and colleagues to discuss workforce opportunities, constraints and considerations. We prepared a diagram of models of care and roles supported by ANMF as well as answers to questions outlined in the agenda. Ms Geissler also asked for feedback and commentary in relation to staff wellbeing, safety and leadership.

ANMF remains committed to improving the conditions and working lives of our members working in mental health to ensure the nursing workforce is ready to support the reforms recommended by the royal commission

Mental Health Reform Victoria

Mental Health Reform Victoria (MHRV) is an office of the DHHS which has been formed to implement the recommendations from the royal commission’s interim and final report. ANMF met with MHRV, DHHS, Victorian Psychologist Association and HACSU on Friday 11 September and will meet monthly to discuss workforce issues relating to the recommendations. ANMF continue to advocate for mental health nurses to be at the forefront of this vital reform.

Victorian Collaborative Mental Health Nursing Conference – 9 and 10 November

ANMF (Vic Branch) is a member of the event committee of this annual conference which celebrates and showcases the specialist practice of mental health nursing across the full range of service settings and therapeutic approaches. The committee last met on 7 September to review abstracts and to discuss the online format of the conference.

Registration cost has been reduced to $165 for a standard ticket and $110 for students.