International Year of Health and Care Workers; and Bargaining

2021 is the International Year of Health and Care Workers. It’s also a year we will complete bargaining for a new Public Sector agreement.

The international community has quite rightly recognised health and care workers, especially given the global pandemic and the sheer need of health and care workers to ensuring our health and well-being. Through this recognition the international community is showing respect for your work and acknowledges the value you and your work bring to our lives. Unfortunately, your employers aren’t prepared to do the same.

It is as maddening as it is sad that during an historic global pandemic your employers seem to exist in an alternative world. They want to keep playing the usual games and refuse to address our claims. They continue to show a lack of respect for your work and a failure to value the vital role you play in fighting this pandemic. They aren’t bargaining in good faith and that’s why we are pursuing the technical aspects to take industrial action.

Taking industrial action is not necessarily something we want to do but given public health employers won’t bargain in good faith they have left us no other choice but to consider it. We will ensure members are informed of the progress of this work and the next steps.

Before the summer holiday period, the Victorian Psychologists Association. and members at Albury Wodonga Health (AWH) were fighting to prevent the denial of crucial mental health services to the community and wider region. The changes being proposed by AWH did not adequately consider the impacts on psychologists’ capacity to provide services to their clients, or how this proposed change seeks to improve services for clients. The VPA. argued the proposed changes would have a negative impact on the clinical services psychologists provide to their clients. Among the concerns was the health service significantly reducing the type of services psychologists currently offer and provide the community; psychologists only being able to provide 6 weeks of service to clients; there would’ve been no capacity for group psychology work; no capacity for specialist PTS services, which has been a critical service provided to members of the community that allows suitable care pathway options for different levels of individual needs; and there would have been no capacity to run psychology intervention for the HOPE program, which has been critical for the community.

On top of this AWH ignored the fact that the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health is due to provide recommendations imminently. It is anticipated that the Royal Commission will recommend increased investment in psychologists in health services to ensure they are able to provide services, not a reduction in services as proposed by AWH. Clinical psychologists are highly trained professionals, and it is critical that health services maintain the capacity to provide clinical counselling services to regional communities.

We’re extremely proud to say that AWH has walked away from their disastrous proposal. However, it only happened because of the members and VPA having a united front in the face of strong management pressure. It’s a testament to the members and VPA that they were able achieve this outcome to ensure that their local community, and the wider region, continue to have access to high quality, essential mental health services.

We urge members to keep letting us know about changes being proposed in your workplace; it is the most effective way to ensure we can keep your employers accountable and protect your hard-won rights in our agreements.

If you need any workplace advice, assistance or representation please contact us by email at Our team continues providing advice, assistance and representation for members while they work from home. Should you need to contact a staff directly, you can find the relevant contact details for our staff on our website.

The start of the new year has certainly been busy, however we’re up to the challenges as we work with you to ensure you’re valued and respected; and your rights at work are protected.

In solidarity
Paul Elliott

Share This Post On