Abolition of the Department of Communities Tasmania

The Rockliff Government is pushing ahead with its decision to abolish the Department of Communities and to transfer responsibilities to other Agencies. The process remains fraught with further delays. The CPSU and HACSU have been meeting weekly with ex-SSMO boss Frank Ogle who has been brought in to sort out the mess. With the next key date of 1 October rapidly approaching the Government has finally made some decisions.

Here is what we know:

1.     Children, Youth and Families transferring to the Department of Education
The Government has decided to avoid the disruption that would come from forcing everyone to change their Award: instead there will be amendments made to the scope clause of the Health and Human Services Award (HAHSA) so that all those transferring to Education in Child Safety and Youth Justice will remain on that Award. It will also mean anyone engaged to work in these areas in the future will also be employed under the HAHSA.

2.     Housing Tasmania
It seems the Government’s plan to pass legislation to create the new Homes Tasmania entity and to transfer Housing Tasmania staff into that entity by 1 October has failed. It’s unclear when legislation will pass and there is a chance it will be rejected by the Legislative Council and a whole new plan will be needed. 

Until Homes Tasmania is created Housing Tasmania will remain. We haven’t been advised if this will be as a part of the Department of Communities or in some other Agency, but if it’s part of DCT then presumably the Secretary, the Office of the Secretary and some parts of Corporate Services will also remain. We have not been advised of these changes formally but have sought a meeting to understand the impact on staff and how long this might be in place for.

One matter has been determined by the Government. We have been advised that employees in Homes Tasmania will continue within the scope of the HAHSA following their transfer to the new entity. Changes will be made to the scope clause of HAHSA to reflect this.

Click Here to view the Draft HAHSA Scope Clause.

3.     Employees changing Awards
There are several groups of members who are currently engaged on the HAHSA who will be translating to the Tasmanian State Service Award (TSSA). These include members transferring to Department of Premier & Cabinet, the Department of State Growth and some going to Education. The groups affected are listed in the table below.

Division/GroupNo.Transferring to
Community and Disability Services (CDS)23Premier and Cabinet
CDS AHP Practitioners6Premier and Cabinet
Business and Information Services (CSIH)4Premier and Cabinet
Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People11Education
Corporate Services (no tall)100Various

To ensure there is ‘no disadvantage’ to these members resulting from the translation, an Appendix has been negotiated that will be inserted in the TSSA. The Appendix details how members will translate from HAHSA to the TSSA, extends access to certain ‘better’ HAHSA conditions and details the information the employer will be required to provide prior to translation.

A draft of the Appendix is included here.

Please note – affected members will translate to the next equal or higher TSSA classification level based on their current HAHSA salary plus their leave loading except where this would mean translating to a higher Band. In these cases (those on B5-R2-L2, B6-R2-L5 or B7-R2-L3) they will translate to the same classification level but will be paid at a higher personal classification rate (0.5% higher than their current salary plus leave loading). They will receive all further wage increases on that salary.

     4. Allied Health Professionals
There are 6 allied health professionals in CDS transferring into DPAC. To ensure these members remain on the Allied Health Professionals Agreement, that Agreement will need to be amended. It will still mean that those 6 AHPs will translate from the HAHSA schedule of the Agreement to the TSSA schedule of the Agreement. This will be done by translating them to the next equal or higher AHP schedule 2 classification level, based on their current schedule 1 salary plus their leave loading except where this would mean translating to a higher Band.

We need feedback from members.

This machinery of government change has been one of the worst managed processes in the past few decades. This is what happens when governments make significant change for political reasons and without any consultation with stakeholders. 

The CPSU has and continues to oppose these changes. Having said that, the reality is the government doesn’t care about the impact on employees or services and is pushing ahead, so the union’s job becomes focused on protecting the interests of members.

To implement all the changes needed in a way that is in the best interests of members requires the following:

  1. Making changes to the scope clause of HAHSA;
  2. Amending the Allied Health Professionals Agreement to include DPAC;
  3. and Inserting an Appendix in TSSA that determines how those translating into the TSSA will be managed.

Because it has taken so long for the government to determine its position on this matter (we understand PSIRC only gave approval late last week) there is great urgency now to get these changes through the Industrial Commission before 1 October deadline.

We therefore ask that members provide any feedback they have to Tom Lynch at t.lynch@tas.cpsu.com.au as soon as practicable.

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