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Mental health nurse pay rise critical to recruitment

Mental health nurse pay rise critical to recruitment

ANMF continues to argue the importance of pay parity between public sector mental health nurses and their colleagues under the public sector nurses and midwives enterprise agreement.

A statewide meeting of mental health members in August rejected the Victorian Government’s eight per cent wage rise over a four-year agreement.

Nurses and midwives under the 2020-24 general agreement received a nine per cent wage rise over four years with the first three per cent rise from December 2020. These wage rises were part of an eight-year wages deal ANMF negotiated in 2016.

The Branch has written to Victorian Deputy Premier and Mental Health Minister James Merlino expressing concern that paying mental health nurses less than general nurses would impact the government’s ability to recruit enough additional nurses to implement the mental health royal commission’s recommendations.

Since the 4 August statewide members meeting, there have been three bargaining meetings held on 6, 19 and 25 August.

In response to the mental health members’ resolution, the Department of Health reviewed its offer. Subsequent meetings have provided an opportunity for ANMF and HACSU to clarify the revised offer and prioritise outstanding claims.

Assistant Secretary Madeleine Harradence said ANMF had tabled the mental health and general nurse wage comparisons in the negotiations and remained confident that the Andrews Government would appreciate the urgent need for a fair and reasonable wages offer.

Following discussions, the government’s revised offer contained 68, i.e., 78 per cent of ANMF members’ claims. These include enhanced paid parental leave, superannuation to be paid on all periods of paid and non-paid parental leave, an additional high dependency unit night duty nurse (equivalent full time) and clinical nurse educators for mother baby units.

Of the remaining 22 outstanding member claims, five are priority claims. These are:

  1. wages
  2. inclusion of improved staffing profiles, (defined as adequate numbers of nursing staff),
  3. community skill mix
  4. community workload management system
  5. graduate support nurse role.

There has been some progress around the staffing and graduate support nurse claims.

ANMF understands the department is considering a revised offer. ANMF continues to make itself available for further negotiations.