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DISABILITY SERVICES

NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • march 2009

Our claim hits the table

The AEU will set out its vision for the long-term viability of the disability sector when it serves its log of claims on employers. Rob Stewart deputy vice president, TAFE and adult provision

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HE AEU is in the final stages of developing our 2009 Log of Claims as we prepare to negotiate a new agreement to cover the next three years. The log sets out our claim for a new agreement and will be served on the State Government and the three employer groups in the next few weeks. Hopefully we can sit down with all parties soon after. The AEU is also calling on the Government to establish a bargaining framework which ensures a more timely and appropriate method of negotiation. The union totally rejects the shambolic system which has operated in the past, where some centres have refused to abide by the negotiated agreement or been slow verging on stationary in implementing it. Members are tired of the blame game which surrounds enterprise bargaining in this sector. Our claim is a responsible one which reflects the workforce issues which are well recognised by the Department of Human Services as critical to keeping the industry viable and appropriately staffed. Our log is an attempt to address some of the inequities which exist today. If

employers and ministers are serious about the future of the disability sector, they will read it very closely. ◆

The AEU claim Key features of the AEU disability log of claims: • A 17% salary increase over three years — mirroring outcomes in the other sectors of the union • A classification scale that recognises and rewards members who ­undertake further study and/or professional development. • Pro-rata long service leave after seven years • Improvements to paid maternity leave and adoption leave • Phasing in of a system of long service leave portability • Employer payment of police checks and immunisation • Improved training and professional development opportunities.

Disability’s new deal A new federal agreement boosts funding for Victorian disability services. Rob Stewart deputy vice president, TAFE and adult provision

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HE AEU was recently briefed by the Minister for Community Services, Lisa Neville, on the impact for Victoria of the new national disability agreement. This agreement replaces the Commonwealth States and Territories Disability Agreement which expired before the 2007 federal election and which the Howard Government refused to renegotiate with the states. Victoria had been disadvantaged under the funding arrangements in the expired agreement — partly because the funding was not distributed on the basis of population, but also because Victoria provides significantly greater services for disabled people in a

number of fields than other jurisdictions but was not being reimbursed for this extra effort. Under the new agreement, Victoria’s share of total funding will increase from 23% to 24% by 2012–13. Commonwealth funding to the state will increase by almost $10 million (to $208.2m) in 2009–2010 and by about $102m by 2012–13 to $300.7m. Members may have heard about the work being done in Victoria to assess the demand for workers in the disability sector, and their educational and training needs, as well as appropriate conditions of employment. I have been involved in a working party established by Department of Human Services to investigate this for some time. This work will now be extended to the whole of the Commonwealth, where a national workforce strategy is one of the priorities of the new agreement.

By the end of 2010, the agreement aims to address qualifications, training, and cross–sector career issues. Issues which the AEU has long pressed, including providing members with financial incentives to improve their qualifications, and portability of employment benefits across the sector, will be part of the agenda we propose for this workforce strategy. ◆

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OUR disability ­sector workers were among the ­dozens of AEU ­members given ­financial help by the union following the February bushfires. The AEU has already distributed more than $340,000 in emergency relief to members and sub-branches affected by the fires. Help is still available to those who lost their homes or possessions. For full details, go to the AEU website at www.aeuvic.asn.au and click on the AEU Fire Relief logo above. ◆

A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : www.ae u v i c . a s n . a u


AEU on the road

The AEU’s disability committee has become a moveable feast as the union goes to its members. Kerry Maher and Meaghan Flack disability sector organisers

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ARCH 17 saw the first of our new regional Disability Services Committee meetings and members forums, with 22 members from the disability sector at Knox Club in Boronia. The AEU has decided to take the committee on the road this year, as we build support for our campaign for a new agreement for the disability sector. At least one of our two committee meetings each term will be held in the regions. At Boronia, we began with the committee meeting and reports on what is happening with wages and agreement negotiations for Parts 1, 2 and 4 employees. Deputy vice president Rob Stewart reported on his meeting with the advisor to Community Services Minister Lisa Neville, where he listed the centres who had not yet signed up to any of the available agreements for 2006–09. The AEU has also been invited to speak with the Department of Human Services on negotiating a new agreement for Part 1 employees. Attendees were invited to attend the disability services health and safety reps forum on March 25 as well as the AEU Women’s Conference on May 2.

The focus of the meeting then turned to the development of a campaign to achieve a single agreement for Part 1 employees. The members were taken through a presentation which explained the rationale for lobbying and how to lobby effectively. Members were given electoral information for the centres they work in and encouraged to contact their local members to set up meetings. In addition they were given examples of how to write press releases and articles for the daily papers and local media. The AEU provided food and drinks for those attending and a chance to meet colleagues from their local area. Positive feedback from members suggests that the change of venue was much appreciated. Many indicated they were willing to become more actively involved in the campaign. This successful forum provided a means for valuable member input and discussion and many were keen to network with colleagues from other centres. We plan to run similar meetings in the western, northern and southern regions as well as country regions so that we can get as many members as active as possible in our disability campaign. ◆

Disability committee Dates for 2009

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his is your chance to influence AEU disability sector policy, network with colleagues from other centres, and join the conversation about disability issues. Tuesday, May 12 5.00pm Tuesday, June 16 5.00pm Tuesday, July 28 5.00pm Tuesday, August 25 5.00pm Tuesday, October 20 5.00pm Tuesday, December 1 5.00pm For more information email Gayle.Bernhardt@ aeuvic.asn.au or phone (03) 9418 4860.

OHS: Powers and duties AEU Women’s Conference

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now open for registration

AEU Women's Conference 2 May 2009

CATHERINE DEVENY Commentator

SUSAN HOPGOOD AEU federal secretary

Information Gayle

TRACY BARTRAM

9418 4860

Comedienne

Registration

JANE CARO

www.aeuvic.

Educationalist & Author

asn.au/women

Women Shaping the World

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13/03/09 11:17 AM

Disability Services newsletter | march 2009

T’S a frequently asked question: “My boss has given me a list of jobs to do as OHS rep — is that right?” The answer is: No — absolutely not! The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 is clear and unambiguous on this — reps have an important role in the workplace and they have powers to enable them to fulfil that role. But they do not have duties. Section 58(3) states: “Nothing in this Act or the regulations imposes, or is to be taken to impose, a function or duty on a health and safety representative in that capacity.” So if your boss gives you a duty statement relating to your role as HSR, it’s a breach of the Act. Remember: the rep is elected by the members of his or her designated work group. You are their rep, not the employer’s rep. In terms of duties, an elected rep has the same duties as any other employee of the employer — no more, no less.

The Act gives health and safety reps powers under Division 5 (s58-66). These include: • Inspecting the workplace at any time • Accompanying an inspector • Requiring the establishment of a health and safety committee • Being present at an interview between the employer or inspector and a member of the workgroup, if the member so wishes • Seeking the assistance of any person • Issuing provisional improvement notices • In certain cases, ordering that work cease. If you have any questions about the role of health and safety rep, contact the AEU’s HSR support officer, Bob Maguire, on (03) 9417 2822 or email bob.maguire@aeuvic. asn.au. More information is also available on the AEU website — www.aeuvic.asn.au/ohs. ◆


Disability Sector Newsletter, Term 1, 2009