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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-22 09:40:49
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-21 23:40:49
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The Western Australian Government has moved to reduce large compensation payouts for senior bureaucrats when a contract is brought to an early end.

The Public Sector Commissioner has decided to apply a new approach when determining compensation payments.

Currently, senior members of the public service may seek a compensation payment of up to 12 months' remuneration, which includes salary, motor vehicle allowances and superannuation.

Under the new policy, in operation from 1 September 2017, compensation payments will be applied on the basis of four months' remuneration for each full year of the contract remaining, up to a maximum of 12 months.

Further legislative changes will also limit the maximum compensation payment when officers' contracts are brought to an early end, to 12 months' salary rather than remuneration.

If this approach had been applied to Senior Executive Service officers since March 2017, the total compensation costs would have been reduced by about 41 per cent.

As part of the government's workforce reform, legislation will be introduced to also remove the existing 'right of return' provision available to Senior Executive Service officers appointed under the Public Sector Management Act 1994 and health executives appointed under the Health Services Act 2016.

Following the enactment of the legislation, a six-month transition period will be in place, enabling officers to exercise their right to return to a permanent tenure if they wish to do so.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said: “A number of people leave the public service for various reasons. While there is an initial cost that the state government is trying to reduce, there is also long-term savings.”

                    [post_title] => WA to cut back SES payouts, benefits
                    [post_excerpt] => New approach to reduce large compensation payments to WA's most senior bureaucrats.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-11 14:15:30
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                    [post_content] => 

People Matter is an employee perception survey conducted by the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Local Government (UTS CLG). It is regularly conducted across state government public sectors and provides important information and insights for departments, organisations and sector stakeholders on workplace experiences and employee engagement.

Local government makes up almost 10% of the total public sector workforce in Australia. This research utilises a tailored version People Matter survey tool to gain feedback on employee experiences and perceptions of working in the local government sector.

Approximately 1,500 NSW local government employees responded to the anonymous survey from an estimated fifteen local government areas between December 2016 and April 2017. Research findings include the following from the local government employees who responded to the survey:
  • There is a strong understanding of what is expected from them of in terms of their role (86%) and respondents are highly enthusiastic when it comes to look for ways to perform their job better (95%). Employees who responded have a strong appreciation (87%) of how their position contributes to positive outcomes for their council and community.
  • While wellbeing is mostly perceived positively, unacceptable workloads (19%) and detrimental work stress (15%) is reported. A third of the respondents rate work-life balance as less than good.
  • There are positive perceptions of how their immediate workgroup or team works together (70%). There are some negative perceptions (14%) when it comes to rating ‘team spirit’.
  • In terms of performance and development, employees who responded are able to have open and honest conversation with their supervisors about the quality of work required (70%), although a proportion (39%) do not have a current performance plan that sets out objectives. There is a strong desire for career advancement (65%); however, there is dissatisfaction with opportunities for career progression or the merit system within their organisation (30%). Managing underperformance was one area that a significant proportion of respondents perceived in a negative light (27%).
  • There are mostly positive perceptions of managers with many managers being seen to encourage employee input (73%). However, a smaller number of managers are seen to consider this input when making decisions in the organisation (58%). Less than half of the respondents have positive perceptions of council senior managers. Demonstrating collaboration and leading change are perceived as being areas for improvement for senior executive teams.
  • Council organisations are rated well when it comes to understanding and building relationships with communities (79%). Whilst a large proportion of the respondents agree that councils are making the necessary improvements to meet challenges of the future (65%), a quarter perceives that change is not handled well. Most of the employees who responded (67%) would recommend their organisation as a great place to work.
  • The majority of respondents (85%) can see how diversity and inclusion in the workplace contributes to better business outcomes and feel able to voice different views to their managers and colleagues (70%). Gender and age are seen as a barrier to success within some of the respondents’ council organisations (8%-12%).
Download the report: People Matter for Local Government: Pilot NSW Survey, University of Technology Sydney. [post_title] => People matter for local government [post_excerpt] => Approximately 1,500 NSW local government employees responded to the latest People Matter employee perception survey. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => people-matter-local-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-11 14:26:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-11 04:26:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27959 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-04 21:22:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-04 11:22:43 [post_content] =>   Joshua Healy, University of Melbourne and Daniel Nicholson, University of Melbourne Workers aren’t being compensated as much as they should be for precarious work in casual positions. One in four Australian employees today is a casual worker. Among younger workers (15-24 year olds) the numbers are higher still: more than half of them are casuals. These jobs come without some of the benefits of permanent employment, such as paid annual holiday leave and sick leave. In exchange for giving up these entitlements, casual workers are supposed to receive a higher hourly rate of pay – known as a casual 'loading'. But the costs of casual work are now outweighing the benefits in wages.

Costs and benefits of casual work

Casual jobs offer flexibility, but also come with costs. For workers, apart from missing out on paid leave, there are other compromises: less predictable working hours and earnings, and the prospect of dismissal without notice. Uncertainty about their future employment can hinder casual workers in other ways, such as making family arrangements, getting a mortgage, and juggling education with work. Not surprisingly, casual workers have lower expectations about keeping their current job. For example the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found 19% expect to leave their job within 12 months, compared to 7% of other workers. Casuals are also much less likely to get work-related training, which limits their opportunities for skills development. The employers of casual workers also face higher costs. High staff turnover adds to recruitment costs. But perhaps the main cost is the “loading” that casual workers are supposed to be paid on top of their ordinary hourly wage. Australia’s system of minimum wage awards specifies a casual loading of 25%. So, a casual worker paid under an award should get 25% more for each hour than another worker doing the same job on a permanent basis. In enterprise agreements, the casual loading varies by sector, but tends to be between 15 and 25%. The practice of paying a casual loading developed for two reasons. One was to provide some compensation for workers missing out on paid leave. The other, quite different, motivation was to make casual employment more expensive and discourage excessive use of it. However this disincentive has not prevented the casual sector of the workforce from growing substantially.

Casual jobs aren’t much better paid

One approach in determining whether casual workers are paid more is simply to compare the hourly wages of casual and “non-casual” (permanent and fixed-term) employees in the same occupations. This can be done using data from the 2016 ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours. We compared median hourly wages for adult non-managerial employees, based on their ordinary earnings and hours of work (i.e. excluding overtime payments). If the median wage for casuals is higher than for non-casuals, there is a casual premium. If the median casual wage is lower, there is a penalty. The 10 occupations below accounted for over half of all adult casual workers in 2016. In most of these occupations, there is a modest casual wage premium - in the order of 4-5%. The size of the typical casual wage premium is much smaller, in most cases, than the loadings written into awards and agreements. Only one occupation (school teachers) has a premium (22%) in line with what might be expected. Three of the 10 largest casual occupations actually penalise this sort of work. And overall for these 10 occupations there is a casual wage penalty of 5%. This method of analysis suggests that few casual workers enjoy substantially higher wages as a trade-off for paid leave. Taking a closer look involves controlling for a wider range of differences between casual and non-casual workers. One major Australian study in 2005 compared wages after taking account of many factors other than occupation, including age, education, job location, and employer size. All else equal, it found that part-time, casual workers do receive an hourly wage premium over full-time, permanent workers. The premium is worth around 10%, on average, for men and between 4 and 7% for women. These results imply that most casual workers (who are in part-time positions) can expect to receive higher hourly wages than comparable employees in full-time, permanent positions. However, the value of the benefit is again found to be less than would be expected, given the larger casual loadings mentioned in awards and agreements. It seems that while there is some short-term financial benefit to being a casual worker, this advantage is worth less in practice than on paper. A recent study, using 14 years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), finds no evidence of any long-term pay benefit for casual workers. The study’s authors estimate that, among men, there is an average casual wage penalty of 10% - the opposite of what we should see if casual loadings fully offset the foregone leave and insecurity of casual jobs. Among female casual workers, there is also a wage penalty, but this is smaller, at around 4%. This study also finds that the size of the negative casual wage effect tends to reduce over time for individual workers, bringing them closer to equality with permanent workers. But very few casual workers out-earn permanent workers in the long-term.

Inferior jobs, but fewer alternatives

The evidence on hourly wage differences leads us to conclude that casual workers are not being adequately compensated for the lack of paid leave, or for other forms of insecurity they face. This makes casual jobs a less appealing option for workers. This does not mean that all casual workers dislike their jobs – indeed, many are satisfied. But a clear-eyed look at what these jobs pay suggests their benefits are skewed in favour of employers. Despite this, the choice for many workers - especially young jobseekers - is increasingly between a casual job or no job at all. Half of employed 15-24 year olds are in casual jobs. The ConversationIn a labour market characterised by high underemployment and intensifying job competition, young people with little or no work experience are understandably willing to make some sacrifices to get a start in the workforce. The option of 'holding out' for a permanent job looks increasingly risky as these opportunities dwindle. Joshua Healy, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Workplace Leadership, University of Melbourne and Daniel Nicholson, Research Assistant, Industrial Relations, University of Melbourne. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => The costs of a casual job [post_excerpt] => The costs of a casual job are now outweighing any pay benefits. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => costs-casual-job [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-04 21:25:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-04 11:25:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27867 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-21 11:45:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-21 01:45:30 [post_content] =>   The Australian Border Force (ABF) has identified a number of labour hire intermediaries sourcing illegal labour and sending money derived from this exploitation overseas. Following an Australia-wide operation codenamed Bonasus, more than 225 people working in breach of their visa conditions were also located during the operation. Video footage of the operation can be viewed here. ABF officers inspected 48 properties, including businesses and residential premises, as part of the operation targeting organised visa fraud, illegal work and the exploitation of foreign nationals. The illegal workers were from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Vietnam Tunisia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They were located working in industries ranging from agriculture to retail and hospitality. In addition, more than 300 individuals were refused entry into Australia as part of the operation. ABF Commander Field and Removal Operations Robyn Miller said the operation should act as a warning to both employers of illegal workers and non-citizens who are, or are intending to, work illegally in Australia. "The facilitation of, and engagement in, illegal work can have lasting negative impact on Australian communities and individuals," Commander Miller said. "This includes significant underpayment and substandard living conditions for foreign workers, and reputational damage for rural and metropolitan industry sectors. "Small and medium businesses are also disadvantaged due to the unfair competitive advantage gained by those who do not adhere to the law." Investigations into these labour hire intermediaries are continuing. Penalties for businesses organising illegal work range up to ten years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $210,000. Individuals caught working illegally may be detained and removed. Individuals also face being banned from re-entering Australia for three years and may be liable for the costs of their removal. A majority of the unlawful non-citizens and foreign nationals caught working illegally have been removed to their country of origin. A small number of the group are assisting the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to resolve their immigration status. Anyone who is aware of an individual, business or employer who may be facilitating visa fraud or illegal work is urged to contact Border Watch on 1800 009 623 or visit Information can be provided anonymously.
State/Territory Number of warrants Illegal workers located Locations
Victoria/Tasmania 14 More than 50 Warrants occurred in metropolitan Melbourne, Mildura, Shepparton, and Sunbury.
NSW/ACT 16 More than 110 Warrants occurred in metropolitan Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Mittagong and Griffith.
Queensland 4 More than 25 Warrants occurred in metropolitan Brisbane, Bundaberg and Mareeba.
Western Australia 12 Almost 40 Warrants occurred in metropolitan Perth.
South Australia/Northern Territory 2 Fewer than 5 Warrants occurred in Golden Heights and Whyalla Stuart.   
Total 48 More than 225  
The Department does not report on cohorts fewer than five for privacy reasons.   [post_title] => Customs targets employers of illegal workers [post_excerpt] => ABF officers have inspected businesses and residential premises targeting organised visa fraud and illegal work. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => customs-targets-employers-illegal-workers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-21 13:31:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-21 03:31:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27847 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-17 16:27:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-17 06:27:31 [post_content] => The Federal Government has released a consultation paper that outlines the government’s proposal to create a Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. This will require large corporations and other entities operating in Australia to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address slavery. Responding to exploitation in supply chains is a key focus of Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19. Consistent with this focus, the National Roundtable established an expert Supply Chains Working Group to bring together relevant stakeholders from business, civil society and government agencies. This working group subsequently recommended that government introduce a modern slavery in supply chains reporting requirement. The proposed reporting requirement will support the business community to respond more effectively to modern slavery. It will raise business awareness of this issue, create a level playing field for businesses to share information about what they are doing to eliminate modern slavery, and encourage businesses to use their market influence to improve workplace standards and practices. The proposed reporting requirement will also improve information available to consumers and investors about modern slavery. The Attorney-General’s Department will lead a national consultation process to refine the Government’s proposed model. This consultation process will provide an important opportunity for the business community and civil society to help design a reporting requirement that is simple, sensible and as effective as possible. It will also ensure that the proposed reporting requirement reflects community expectations. Consultation paper available now The consultation paper outlines the Australian government’s proposed model for a Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. The proposed reporting requirement will require large corporations and other entities operating in Australia to publish annual statements outlining their actions to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. Key elements of the Government’s proposal include the following:
  • The introduction of a requirement to produce an annual Modern Slavery Statement.
  • The reporting requirement would be applicable to a range of entities:
    • with a proposed revenue threshold no lower than $100 million total annual revenue, and
    • headquartered in Australia or that have any part of their operations in Australia.
  • Entities will be required to report on their actions to address modern slavery in both their operations and supply chains (including beyond first tier suppliers).
  • Entities will be required to report, at a minimum, against four criteria (which cover the optional criteria set out in the UK Modern Slavery Act):
    • the entity’s structure, its operations and its supply chains;
    • the modern slavery risks present in the entity’s operations and supply chains;
    • the entity’s policies and processes to address modern slavery in its operations and supply chains and their effectiveness (such as codes of conduct, supplier contract terms and training for staff), and
    • the entity’s due diligence processes relating to modern slavery in its operations and supply chains and their effectiveness.
  • Modern Slavery Statements would need to be approved at board level and be signed by a director.
  • Entities would be required to publish their Modern Slavery Statement within five months after the end of the Australian financial year.
  • Entities would be required to publish their Modern Slavery Statement on their websites, with the Government also proposing a publicly accessible central repository.
  • Punitive penalties for non-compliance are not proposed but options for oversight are being considered.
  • The Government will provide guidance and awareness-raising materials for business.
The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department will lead a national consultation process with business and civil society to refine the Government’s proposed model over August – December 2017. Submissions for the consultation will close on 20 October 2017. [post_title] => Federal Government to target modern slavery [post_excerpt] => A consultation paper outlines the government’s Modern Slavery in Supply Chains Reporting Requirement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => federal-government-target-modern-slavery [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-17 19:12:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-17 09:12:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27775 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-07 14:08:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-07 04:08:42 [post_content] =>   The Australian Public Service Commission has released its updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants. The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, leaves absolutely no room for employees to make critical comments of any of their ministers, superiors, or departments. Furthermore, it suggests public servants are liable to be disciplined even if they don’t promptly delete a critical post on their social media account by an outsider. First brought to light by a critical article in The Australian newspaper, the nine-page, 3,000+ word guide goes into some detail as to what is and what is not acceptable. Now listen up! “As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate,” the document begins. “But this is not an unlimited right. APS employees have particular responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 that come with being employed as a public servant by the Commonwealth of Australia. In some cases, these responsibilities limit their ability to participate fully in public discussions, including on social media.” Criticism is a definite no-no. Whether it is the employee’s current agency, Minister, previous agency, or observations of a person, the guide is clear to begin with: “Criticising the work, or the administration, of your agency is almost always going to be seen as a breach of the Code. The closer your criticism is to your area of work, the more likely this will be.” The guide then goes on to warn that critical posts are not allowed after hours or in a declared private capacity, or even anonymously: “Even if you don’t identify yourself you can still be identified by someone else.” And just in case you’re wondering, your right to freedom of speech is, well, worthless: “The common law recognises an individual right to freedom of expression. This right is subject to limitations such as those imposed by the Public Service Act. In effect, the Code of Conduct operates to limit this right.” The commissioner responds The Australian Public Service Commissioner The Hon John Lloyd has responded to the detailed article published by The Australian newspaper, declaring it to be misrepresentative: “The use of social media by employees requires discretion and judgement,” he writes. “For this reason it is important that all employers, including those in the APS, ensure their employees clearly understand the expectations of their behaviour when they use social media. “The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change, but that current obligations were not well understood by employees. The CPSU encouraged its members to participate, and made a submission. “It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity. Submissions to the review indicated that aspects of the previous guidance was unclear and ambiguous, and that revised guidance should be simpler and easy to understand.” Straight from the Trump playbook: The Greens Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP slammed reports in The Australian that the Turnbull government will impose restrictions on public servants criticising his government on social media. "There must have been a few paragraphs missing from the leaked Trump/Turnbull transcript, because this latest crackdown on the public service is straight from the Trump playbook," said Mr Bandt. "If anyone challenges Trump, they get fired. Malcolm Turnbull, in his desperation to hang onto power, is trying to do the same. "Holding public servants responsible for what others post on their page is the stuff of the thought police. Your job shouldn't be in danger because someone shares a post on your page about marriage equality or action on climate change and you don't delete it. "This is a ruthless assault on freedom of speech that would make any demagogue proud.” The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, is available here. [post_title] => Though shalt not criticise [post_excerpt] => The updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants has been released. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => though-shalt-not-criticise [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-07 14:53:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-07 04:53:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27665 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-21 10:37:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-21 00:37:35 [post_content] => An ACCC report into the private health insurance industry has found that affordability of private health insurance remains a significant concern for consumers. The complexity of policy information provided by insurers is another key issue, reflected in increasing complaints about the industry. “Our report found that people are shifting towards lower-cost policies with lower benefits,” ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard said. “We are also concerned that consumers continue to have trouble understanding their policies, particularly when they are trying to make a claim. “It is in the interests of both insurers and their customers to be clear and transparent about policy details. This helps people to make informed decisions about the level of insurance cover they need and can afford,” Ms Rickard said. Key industry developments and trends in 2015-16:
  • The affordability of insurance remains a significant concern for consumers, which is supported by research that shows household spending on private health insurance premiums has increased steadily over the past decade.
  • Consumers are shifting towards lower-cost policies with lower benefits. Between June 2014 and June 2016 there was a 400,000 reduction in hospital policies with no exclusions (which can be equated with ‘top cover’), whilst an additional 600,000 hospital policies with exclusions were taken out.
  • The amount of hospital benefits paid by health insurers per person increased by 4.2 per cent, along with a 2.9 per cent increase in general benefits per person.
  • Average out-of-pocket expenses incurred by consumers from hospital episodes increased by 6.9 per cent, compared to only 0.7 per cent for general treatments.
  • Overall consumer complaints to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) rose for the third consecutive financial year, although the year-on-year increase of 3.5 per cent followed much larger increases of nearly 16 per cent in 2013-14 and 24.5 per cent in 2014-15.
  • The PHIO continued to receive the highest level of complaints regarding the benefits paid by insurers to consumers (over 30 per cent of total complaints in 2015-16). The main issue of consumer concern relating to benefits was hospital policies with unexpected exclusions and restrictions.
  • Consumers increasingly rely on information provided by commercial comparison websites when making decisions about their private health insurance. Around 40 per cent of consumers who made comparisons between insurers prior to selecting their current policy utilised a commercial comparison website, such as iSelect and Compare the Market, to assist their decision making.
Each year, the ACCC is required by the Senate to produce a report on key competition and consumer developments and trends impacting on people’s health cover. This report covers the 2015-16 period. The report is available here. The ACCC has recently taken action: Not good enough: dentists The Senate inquiry must go further than ACCC and hold private health insurers accountable, according to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), as the report neglects to unequivocally call out private health insurers’ anticompetitive behaviour. The ADA is urging the Senate Inquiry into private health insurance to highlight the damage health insurer practices, such as discriminatory rebate practices and the shift towards a conflicted corporatised insurer-owned dental practice model impacts on consumers’ continuity of care and quality of treatment, and recommend legislative change to outlaw such practices. General treatment or ancillary policies also known as ‘extras cover’, cover more Australians (13.5 million) than hospital policies (11.4 million). The majority (52%) of claims paid out to policy holders are for dental care. The Senate inquiry must scrutinise private health insurers’ activities as they impact on policy holders accessing ancillary health services, including dentistry. ADA federal president Dr Hugo Sachs strongly criticised the ACCC report: “While the ACCC report outlined some thrust of the ADA’s concerns, it has downplayed the significance of insurers’ actions on patients’ access to continuity of care, on their ability to receive value for money, and on the overall competitive impacts on the dental sector. Stating that certain behaviour ‘does not represent best practice’ does not cut it. “Not all policy holders are treated equal. For years, insurers have imposed a regime of discriminatory rebates. If you want to maintain your relationship with your existing dentist who chooses not to be contracted to an insurer, you get less back on your claim. You get less back even though you pay the same amount of premium for the same policy as another person. This practice, combined with reports we have about insurers’ call centre staff shifting the blame for their own discriminatory rebates by suggesting the non-contracted dentist’s fees are expensive is misleading and deceptive; not to mention distorting the market by steering policy holders away to their own affiliated or owned dental practices.” Over the years, insurers have also used their claim processes to obtain sensitive price and fee information from non-contracted dentists to ultimately set up competing dental practices and inform their rebate setting practices. Dr Sachs continued: “This model of corporate/insurer owned and run health services should not be permitted. There is a glaring conflict of interest. An insurer owns the practice, employs the health practitioner, determines the fee for the service at one end and also sets the rebate the policy holders get back at the other end, and is vulnerable to pressure from shareholders to deliver a return. Ultimately, policy holders stand to lose in the long term.” Public hospitals overrun: ambulance The health cover report comes at a time when the NSW Ambulance Service is highlighting the shortage of beds. On several days so far this winter, NSW Ambulance paramedics have found some of Sydney’s largest hospitals struggling to maintain services because they were full. The Australian Paramedics Association (NSW) is concerned that hospital bed block has all but paralysed Liverpool Hospital, Bankstown Hospital and Fairfield Hospital over a number of days.  “Ambulance crews are being stuck at these hospitals waiting for hours, tending to patients on ambulance trolleys in the hallways because Emergency Departments are being overwhelmed and each of these large hospitals is full,” said APA (NSW) president Steve Pearce. “We have seen up to ten ambulances queued up for hours at Liverpool Hospital unable to unload patients and that is pushing the already stretched resources of NSW Ambulance, making it very difficult to service the public,” Mr Pearce said. “NSW Ambulance does not employ enough paramedics to manage the normal workload around the state, let alone during a huge surge like this. “The hospitals are full with a lot of very sick patients and we are seeing new patients with a range of ailments and injuries having to wait way too long to see a doctor. “This coincides with the height of the flu season but there simply are not enough hospital beds or enough ambulances on the road to handle the demand.” [post_title] => ACCC, ADA, Ambulances concerned about health cover and hospitals [post_excerpt] => Whilst an ACCC report blasts the health insurers, dentist and ambulance paramedics say more needs to be done. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => accc-ada-ambulances-concerned-health-cover-hospitals [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-21 10:37:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-21 00:37:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27656 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-20 17:21:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-20 07:21:54 [post_content] => The Senate Inquiry into Flag of Convenience (FOC) Shipping has found serious risks. The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report chronicles gaping holes in Australia’s national security framework, with the report being published  just one day after a government announcement to create the new Ministry of Home Affairs. FOC shipping refers to international trading vessels that are registered in tax havens such as Liberia, Panama and the Marshall Islands. These registries are renowned for their lax labour laws, poor investment controls and lack of ownership oversight. The Australian Border Force Submission states: “The Department notes that whilst a significant proportion of legitimate sea trade is conducted by ships with FOC registration, there are features of FOC registration, regulation and practice that organised crime syndicates or terrorist groups may seek to exploit. These features are:
  • A lack of transparency of the identity of shipowners and consequent impediment to holding the owner to account for a ship’s actions.
  • Insufficient flag state regulatory enforcement and adherence to standards.
The Senate Report states: “The committee maintains that [FOC] vessels present serious security risks to the Australian coast, which need to be properly addressed. “The committee takes the view that, by not agreeing to review the current state of the maritime sector in Australia, the government is failing to address the serious security, economic, human rights and environmental vulnerabilities in the sector.” The committee called on the Federal Government to grow the Australian maritime industry in the face of what it calls “very real and current risks to our nation” posed by FOC vessels and their crew. In a recently published opinion peace, Opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese also referred to the security implications of not having a domestic shipping industry. “Indeed, defence experts have long recognised the importance of maintaining a domestic maritime workforce,” Mr Albanese said. “It ensures that Australia has a pool of highly skilled labour that can be quickly mobilised during times of war or other national emergencies. “Furthermore, Australian seafarers undergo stringent background checks to ensure they pose no security threats.  Overseas seafarers whose backgrounds are a mystery to us do not undergo such close scrutiny.” International Transport Federation (ITF) president Paddy Crumlin said the conservative Australian Government is intentionally encouraging the morally ambiguous – and at times criminal – underbelly of FOC shipping. “The Turnbull Government has allowed Australian seafarers to be replaced by FOC lawlessness that now threatens our very national security. “Under their legislative abuses Australian seafarers, properly trained, security-screened and resident taxpayers, have been sacked and their jobs in a domestic transport sector given away to whoever comes over the horizon without a word of inquiry about their background. “The solution is simple: stop destroying and start supporting and growing  our domestic shipping industry and the Australian working men and women that work there, and in doing so we will help keep our borders safe,” Mr Crumlin said. ITF national coordinator Dean Summers said the inquiry had officially laid bare the murky world of FOC shipping that the Turnbull Government has so far chosen to ignore. “The Senate Inquiry heard multiple accounts of the very worst of what FOC shipping has to offer – murders, gun-running, intimidation, bullying, harassment and slave labour,” Mr Summers said. “The appalling case of multiple murders at sea onboard the Sage Sagittarius was the basis for this inquiry and serves as a shocking reminder of what can happen when an entire industry is little more than a race to the bottom. The committee called for a comprehensive whole-of-government review into the potential economic, security and environmental risks presented by FOC shipping. The committee said it was very concerned by FOC vessels carrying dangerous goods around Australia’s coast, including ammonium nitrate and petroleum products. Last financial year, only 1,072 of the 15,715 commercial vessels arriving in Australia were searched by ABF. “The committee is very disturbed by the many examples of job losses, poor working conditions, inadequate wages and deaths and disappearances at sea,” it stated. “To have seafarers disappearing and dying in and around Australian waters, and while in transit to Australian ports is unacceptable.” The committee recommended that:
  1. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) implement an inspection program for ships with foreign seafarers to verify paid wages meet Australian legal requirements.
  2. The Federal Government fund the FWO wages inspection program.
  3. The Federal Government implement clear procedures on how to respond to deaths that occur on ships travelling in or to Australian waters.
  4. The Federal Government consider legislative amendments to provide clarity on jurisdictional responsibility for investigating deaths on ships travelling in Australian waters.
  5. The re-establishment of an advisory body made up of key maritime industry stakeholders to advise government on new Australian shipping policies and workforce development and training opportunities.
  6. The Federal Government review the Australian maritime industry with a view to grow and support it.
  7. The Federal Government review the potential economic, security and environmental risks presented by FOC vessels and foreign crew.
The committee’s full report can be found here.   [post_title] => Homeland Security could start with 'flags of convenience' [post_excerpt] => The Senate Inquiry into Flag of Convenience (FOC) Shipping has found serious risks. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => homeland-security-start-flags-convenience [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-20 17:21:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-20 07:21:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27640 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-17 22:20:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-17 12:20:52 [post_content] => The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has conducted its latest audit of public hospital doctors’ working hours (AMA Safe Hours Audit 2016) and found that there is a high prevalence of unsafe working hours. The audit of working conditions for doctors in Australian public hospitals shows that one in two doctors (53 per cent) are working unsafe shifts that place them at a higher risk of fatigue, with one doctor reporting an unbroken 76-hour shift. Shifts of 72 hours, 59 hours, 58 hours, and 53 hours were also reported. Over a one-week period in November 2016, 716 salaried doctors and doctors in training (DiT), including 675 hospital-based doctors, kept an online diary of their hours of work, on-call hours, non-work hours, and sleeping time. AMA president Dr Michael Gannon said the 2016 audit – the fourth conducted by the AMA since 2001 – is an improvement on 2001 when 78 per cent of those surveyed reported working high risk hours, but it is worrying that there has been no improvement since the 2011 Audit, which also showed 53 per cent of doctors at significant risk of fatigue. “The audit warns that the demands on many doctors continue to be extreme,” Dr Gannon said. “It is disappointing that work and rostering practices in some hospitals are still contributing to doctor fatigue and stress, which ultimately affect patient safety and quality of care and the health of the doctor. “It’s no surprise that doctors at higher risk of fatigue reported working longer hours, longer shifts, more days on call, fewer days off, and skipping meal breaks. “We are dismayed that one doctor reported working a 76-hour shift in 2016, almost double the longest shift reported in 2011. “It is also a great concern the maximum total hours worked during the 2016 survey week was 118 hours, the same as 2006 – no improvement in a decade.” The most stressed disciplines were intensive care physicians and surgeons, with 75 and 73 per cent respectively reporting they were working hours that placed them at significant or high risk of fatigue. Research shows that fatigue endangers patient safety and can have a real impact on the health and well-being of doctors. The 2016 AMA Audit confirms that the demands on public hospital doctors are still too great. Dr Gannon said state and territory governments and hospital administrators need to intensify efforts to ensure better rostering and safer work practices for hospital doctors. “Administrators must acknowledge that fatigue has a significant effect on doctors in training, who have to manage the competing demands of work, study, and exams. “The audit found that six out of ten registrars are working rosters that place them at significant or higher risk of fatigue, compared to the average of five out of ten hospital-based doctors. “Public hospitals need to strike a better balance for doctors in training. “They must provide a quality training environment that recognises that safe working hours and conditions for teaching and training will ultimately ensure high quality patient care.” AMA vice president Dr Tony Bartone said: “What we're seeing here is that the system is under stress. We're seeing that the system overall is functioning at peak capacity and with no relief valve in that situation. There have been research reports overseas which have confirmed that errors are occurring. “What we're seeing here is that ultimately, perhaps even the transit or the journey of the patient through the health system is being retarded; things are not being coordinated in an efficient way because of tiredness, because of fatigue and, obviously, when we've got a limited amount of health resources, when we have a limited budget, we need to ensure that the hospitals are really performing at peak efficiency.” Dr Gannon said the AMA’s National Code of Practice - Hours of Work, Shiftwork and Rostering for Hospital Doctor, which was revised in 2016, provides practical guidance on how to manage fatigue and eliminate or minimise the risks associated with shift work and extended working hours, and should be adopted as the minimum standard by all states and territories. [post_title] => Hospital system in crisis: warning to governments [post_excerpt] => Governments need to ensure safer work practices for hospital doctors. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hospital-system-crisis-warning-governments [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-21 10:51:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-21 00:51:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27586 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-11 12:25:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-11 02:25:26 [post_content] => Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet have named NSW Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt AM as the new Secretary of the Treasury of NSW and Secretary of NSW Industrial Relations. Ms Berejiklian said Mr Pratt’s experience in senior public sector roles, as well as in the banking and finance sector, made him the right candidate to lead the Treasury. "Michael has the perfect mix of private sector and public service expertise, and he will bring the best of both worlds in leading the Treasury at this exciting and important time for our state,” Ms Berejiklian said. “Michael’s focus as Customer Service Commissioner has been on putting people at the heart of service delivery – one of the NSW Government’s key priorities and something he will be bringing to his new job at Treasury. “I look forward to working with him and the Treasurer on making Treasury an even more outcomes and customer focused agency.” Mr Perrottet said Mr Pratt would continue the important work of reforming the way public finances are managed, ensuring taxpayer funds are spent in ways that make a real difference to people’s lives. “I have worked closely with Michael over recent years, and I know he is passionate about reforming Government so that it works harder than ever for the people of NSW,” Mr Perrottet said. “As Customer Service Commissioner, Michael has revolutionised the way the Government delivers services to citizens, and his widely respected financial acumen and capacity to think outside the box are huge assets to the people of NSW. “The task ahead is formidable – continuing to keep NSW finances in excellent shape and laying the fiscal and economic foundations for the future – and I look forward to working with Michael as we face those challenges.” Mr Pratt’s career in banking and wealth management throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia includes roles as CEO of Consumer and SME Banking, North East Asia, with Standard Chartered Bank, Group Executive of Westpac Consumer & Business Banking, CEO of National Australia Bank in Australia, CEO of Bank of New Zealand and CEO of Bank of Melbourne. Mr Pratt will commence in the role from 1 August. He succeeds outgoing Secretary Rob Whitfield, who announced his resignation in late June. A new Customer Service Commissioner will be announced in the coming months. [post_title] => New NSW Treasury and Industrial Relations Secretary announced [post_excerpt] => Michael Pratt AM is the new NSW Secretary of the Treasury and of Industrial Relations. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-nsw-treasury-industrial-relations-secretary-announced [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-11 12:33:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-11 02:33:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27581 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-10 15:38:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:38:55 [post_content] => While South Australia extends a program to boost exports of the state’s making, Queensland’s coffers have been boosted by the post-cyclone recovery of its coal exports. Queensland: coal rules The value of Queensland merchandise exports surged 32.2% - or an increase $15.5 billion - in the past year to be $63.4 billion in the 12 months to May 2017, boosted by the recommencement of coal exports following the cyclone. In the 12-month period until May 2015, total Queensland merchandise exports was $46.5 billion. “Queensland posted a record calendar for exports in 2016 with $52 billion. We are well on track to post another record this year,” she said. “Overseas trade supports thousands of local jobs in key industries across Queensland.” The Premier said growth had been across key markets including Queensland’s top three trading partners - China ($16.5 billion total exports, at an increase of 46%), Japan ($10 billion up 26%) and India ($8.5 billion up 61%). Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Curtis Pitt said a significant rise in the value of coal exports was the primary driver behind Queensland setting another record export total but exports of some agricultural commodities also rose in value. “The significant rise was driven largely by an increase in the value of coal exports, primarily hard-coking coal, and to a lesser extent LNG exports. “This was despite the impacts of TC Debbie which caused significant disruption to coal exports in the May quarter. “While the volume of coal exports was down by an estimated 13.4 million tonnes compared to a year earlier, the nominal values were supported by a surge in coal prices.” Mr Pitt said a number of agricultural exports rose in the May quarter compared with the same period last year. “Crops exports increased $180 million over the year to May quarter 2017 to $474 million, driven largely by an increase in chickpea exports and to a lesser extent wheat,” he said. “Cotton exports rose $61 million over the year to $188 million in the May quarter. “The latest data also showed an increase of $385 million in mineral exports over the year to May quarter 2017, rising to $2.3 billion. “There was a $172 million increase in the value of aluminium exports, particularly alumina,” Mr Pitt said. South Australia’s Export Partnership Program (EPP) The Export Partnership Program provides funding assistance for small and medium-sized businesses to access new global markets through marketing and export development opportunities, and has now been opened up to associations as well as individual businesses. It can help local businesses to:
  • research feasible overseas markets,
  • develop marketing material for distribution overseas,
  • participate in international trade shows, trade missions and overseas business programs,
  • adapt websites for specific international markets,
  • access cultural and export training, mentoring and coaching services, and
  • support incoming buyers.
Successful applicants may receive up to a maximum of $50,000 to assist with export activities. Companies can apply multiple times until they reach the full $50,000 allocation. Grants of up to $5,000 are also available to aspiring exporters for coaching and mentoring expenses. Funding is available to South Australian owned and based businesses that have been operational for at least two years and have an annual turnover of more than $100,000. Must be made in South Australia
  • Eligible applicants must export goods or services that are grown or ‘Made in South Australia’.
  • If goods or services are not made in South Australia, then businesses must prepare a detailed submission outlining the net benefits that the product or service will bring to the state.
  • Goods are considered ‘Made in South Australia’ if the manufacturing process for a business meets those requirements.
  [post_title] => Exports: a tale of two states [post_excerpt] => While SA extends a program to boost exports, Qld’s coffers are boosted by the recovery of its coal exports. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => exports-tale-two-states [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-11 12:10:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-11 02:10:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27546 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-05 15:24:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-05 05:24:04 [post_content] => On 15 May 2017, the NSW Government announced it will open the Inner West and Southwestern suburbs of Sydney public bus services to tender. These services are currently operated by the government-owned State Transit Authority of NSW (STA) under contract to Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and include approximately 223 routes servicing Lidcombe, Strathfield, Burwood, Five Dock, Ashfield, Marrickville, Kogarah, Leichhardt, Newtown, Balmain, Glebe, Pyrmont and the CBD. The government will make existing assets available to the new operator, including depots at Burwood, Kingsgrove, Tempe and Leichardt. The government will also continue to set fares and regulate safety and operational standards. The contracts may go up to ten years before re-tendering is required.  Travelling public not happy: Commuter Day of Action collects hundreds of signatures Bus drivers and campaign volunteers hit bus stops across Sydney, distributing flyers and talking to commuters as part of the ‘Don’t Sell Our Buses Campaign - Day of Action’ in protest of Transport Minister Constance’s plans to privatise Sydney’s buses. RTBU Bus and Tram Secretary Chris Preston said the ‘Commuter Day of Action’ was organised to inform the public about what is about to happen to their bus services and how they can do something about it. “Bus drivers and campaign volunteers hit the busiest bus stops right across the city to let people know that Andrew Constance is selling off their buses. “The ‘Don’t Sell Our Buses’ campaign has had excellent community support at the events we’ve held in Marrickville, Leichhardt and in the city of Sydney. Many of the volunteers out today had attended those meetings.” 120 rail replacement buses promised for North Shore In the meantime, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance promised to spend $49 on more than 120 new buses, extra routes and thousands of added bus services to keep commuters moving during the upgrading of the Epping to Chatswood line in late 2018 ahead of the start of Sydney Metro. During the upgrade, travellers will have access to seven new bus routes that will connect customers to impacted stations every six minutes at peak times, including a dedicated shuttle service to Macquarie University. Whether the new services (and the rest of the Sydney bus network) may later be offered up for private tender is an issue that has not been addressed by the government. [post_title] => NSW Government opens bus privatisation tender [post_excerpt] => Bus drivers continue their campaign against the privatisation of 223 bus services in Sydney. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-opens-bus-privatisation-tender [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-05 15:24:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-05 05:24:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27527 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-03 22:19:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-03 12:19:40 [post_content] => Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have launched a program designed for young people entering the retail workforce with the assistance of the Government’s Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) program. The ARA said its aim is growing employment in the retail sector and has been working with the Federal Government to assist internships to young Australians looking to get into retail through the Youth Jobs PaTH program, run by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash. Russell Zimmerman said retail is transforming from a stepping-stone industry into a long-term and professionally fulfilling career, with some of Australia’s most successful business people starting on the shop floor. “We are very excited to be a part of the PaTH program. Our retailers are already major employers of young people and these PaTH internships will now provide another way that employers can give young people a fair go,” Mr Zimmerman said. “With the diverse range of careers in the retail industry, we need our young staff to not only have basic vocational skills but also have a wide range of qualifications before they can start on the job.” The churning danger The Greens and Labor believe the internships are just another way for employers to not have to pay award wages to staff and that the internships will replace full-time, full-wage jobs. “Although I’m sure the Australian Retailers Association was well-intentioned in brokering this deal with the government, I do have questions about why these young people can’t just be offered work under the usual conditions rather than internships where they can be potentially exploited,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said. “Under the PaTH process, people are not paid the same as their colleagues. Overseas we have seen examples where businesses use government-funded internship programs to churn through workers, offering them no long-term prospects. “I also have questions about working conditions – it must be ensured that protections that you would see in other employment contracts are available to young people entering these internships, “This rollout must be closely monitored so that young jobseekers aren’t being churned through and viewed as an opportunity for cheap labour by businesses.” The Labor opposition was equally denigrating. “The day after the Turnbull Government supported cutting penalty rates for nearly 700,000 workers, it’s bragging about a program that forces young people to work for less than the minimum wage,” Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor said. “The Turnbull Government can’t explain how the Youth PaTh program won’t displace jobs that could go to full-paid employees. “The government has not outlined how its agreement with retailers will stop subsidised workers from being used by some retailers to avoid paying penalty rates - by engaging subsidised, so-called ‘interns’ in penalty shifts that would normally be staffed by employees,” he said. The government responds In launching the program, Mr Turnbull said: “Now we have in Australia at the moment about 12.7 per cent of young people between 15 and 24 who are looking for work in the workforce or are unable to get a job. “Now that’s far too high. If we reduce that by 20,000, that is a full percentage point. So you can see that the 120,000 over four years, if that sets tens of thousands of young people onto the pathway to employment, as it will, who would otherwise not have done that, it makes a very big material difference. Not just to their lives, to give them the chance to get ahead, but to the nation as a whole.” When asked by a journalist “How likely is this to create churn in the workforce?”, the Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash said: “These are new jobs and … the employer has to certify that there is a job available or there is a high likelihood of a job available. This is about getting our young people off welfare and into work and the government has worked very closely with employers in particular to ensure that there are the appropriate processes in place. “We’ve also been very, very clear - if at the end of the internship a job is not offered, there will be an investigation as to why. So very much when this government says we are getting our youth off welfare and into work, I can assure you we are putting in place the programs that are going to do that.” Brendan O’Connor wasn’t convinced, however. “Instead of coming up with a serious jobs plan to help bring down Australia's high rate of youth unemployment, the Turnbull Government is rolling out programs that are replacing properly-paid, entry level jobs,” he said. [post_title] => Retail internships: PaTH to jobs or poverty? [post_excerpt] => Retailers and the Prime Minister have launched a retail internship program for young people. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => retail-internships-path-jobs-poverty [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-04 11:12:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-04 01:12:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27490 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-29 12:19:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-29 02:19:13 [post_content] => The Department of Human Services has advised the CPSU that approximately 2,000 permanent jobs will be created in order to improve services for customers and reduce pressure on staff. The agency covering Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support said it expects the majority of new permanent positions will be filled by current casual staff, as the department seeks to reduce its use of non-going workers. The department expects recruitment for the permanent jobs will be concluded in August, with the roles mostly to cover call centre and processing work in offices around the country. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “This is an enormously significant announcement that will give a much-needed boost to service standards for Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support customers whilst easing the intense pressure faced by DHS staff. We’re working closely with DHS to ensure these jobs are created quickly and fairly. “This will provide around 2,000 people in communities around the country with quality, permanent employment and offer some desperately needed support to their colleagues struggling under impossible workloads and also dealing with increased customer agitation and aggression as a result. “People employed casually by DHS already make a valuable contribution, but giving them permanent jobs will mean they receive the comprehensive training that is required to fully help customers through sensitive issues and often complex processes.” “The department deserves congratulations for taking this first step to turn around what has been an unacceptable slide in service standards, as we’ve seen with the 42 million calls blocked with a busy signal just in the first 10 months of this financial year and with the tens of thousands of people unfairly caught up in robo-debt.” The decision follows months of controversy over the robo-debt debacle and lack of service availability at Centrelink, culminating in Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support staff stepping up strikes in April. “DHS has been described as an agency in crisis,” Ms Flood said. “These jobs will help repair that damage, while the department also needs to agree a fair and reasonable outcome to resolve enterprise bargaining and implement the key recommendations of last week's inquiry report into robo-debt.” Meanwhile in NSW, 400 may be cut The Public Service Association believes the NSW Government will slash more than 400 jobs in disability services and child protection. The cuts will be of frontline jobs in areas such as disability services, child protection and housing, as part of the 2017-2018 budget. Under the Family and Community Services (FACS) Cluster Operating Model, the NSW Government has outlined plans to shed at least 429 jobs across Sydney and regional NSW. Even more jobs are expected to go as further cuts are announced to corporate and state-wide services in the coming weeks. The PSA says many of these jobs are in regional and remote NSW where service provision is already stretched and comparable employment isn’t available.     [post_title] => Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support to get 2,000 permanent jobs, NSW to lose 400 [post_excerpt] => The Department of Human Services will create approximately 2,000 permanent jobs in Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => centrelink-medicare-child-support-get-2000-permanent-positions [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-30 11:34:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-30 01:34:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28087 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-22 09:40:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-21 23:40:49 [post_content] => The Western Australian Government has moved to reduce large compensation payouts for senior bureaucrats when a contract is brought to an early end. The Public Sector Commissioner has decided to apply a new approach when determining compensation payments. Currently, senior members of the public service may seek a compensation payment of up to 12 months' remuneration, which includes salary, motor vehicle allowances and superannuation. Under the new policy, in operation from 1 September 2017, compensation payments will be applied on the basis of four months' remuneration for each full year of the contract remaining, up to a maximum of 12 months. Further legislative changes will also limit the maximum compensation payment when officers' contracts are brought to an early end, to 12 months' salary rather than remuneration. If this approach had been applied to Senior Executive Service officers since March 2017, the total compensation costs would have been reduced by about 41 per cent. As part of the government's workforce reform, legislation will be introduced to also remove the existing 'right of return' provision available to Senior Executive Service officers appointed under the Public Sector Management Act 1994 and health executives appointed under the Health Services Act 2016. Following the enactment of the legislation, a six-month transition period will be in place, enabling officers to exercise their right to return to a permanent tenure if they wish to do so. WA Premier Mark McGowan said: “A number of people leave the public service for various reasons. While there is an initial cost that the state government is trying to reduce, there is also long-term savings.”   [post_title] => WA to cut back SES payouts, benefits [post_excerpt] => New approach to reduce large compensation payments to WA's most senior bureaucrats. 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Industrial Relations