PSA Lodges a Dispute in the South Australian Employment Tribunal About Financial Counsellors

07 November 2018

The PSA continues to campaign to prevent the axing of Financial Counsellors in the Department for Child Protection (DCP).

PSA members across the state have voted overwhelmingly to support the continuation of the Financial Wellbeing program, stating that Financial Counsellors are essential to Child Protection. They have committed to stand with Financial Counsellors and to campaign to prevent the axing of the Financial Wellbeing program.

PSA lodges dispute in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET)
Despite assurances from the DCP that there would be genuine consultation and no implementation until this has occurred, the PSA believes the Department is actively implementing the cuts to the program.

On 26 October 2018, a letter was sent to DCP Chief Executive seeking information about implementation measures the Department has undertaken and any third parties they had communicated with. The Department’s response demonstrated there had been discussion with third parties about the program. A dispute has now been lodged with the SAET in relation to consultation.

The South Australian Modern Public Sector Enterprise Agreement: Salaried 2017 states:

34.1.1 Consultation involves the sharing of information and the exchange of views between employers and persons or bodies that must be consulted and the genuine opportunity for them to contribute effectively to any decision making process. This includes consultation with the applicable union whose members are affected.

The PSA will be receive a date for the dispute to be heard soon and will keep members informed. While the dispute is in place, the status quo must be maintained, i.e. there should be no changes to the current program.

Further updates
Two meetings have been held between management and Financial Counsellors. The PSA has attended both of these. The purpose of the meetings is to identify the work of Financial Counsellors so it can be allocated elsewhere in the department, government or to the private sector. Members are finding this difficult and distressing as it conflicts with integrated practice. In addition, it is concerning that management is suggesting that some of the work can be shifted to Case Workers, Social Workers and Out of Home Care Workers.

Members should remember this process is not a shift of a service but an actual budget cut of over $3million dollars and at least 59 co-workers’ positions under threat.

In this context, members were extremely disappointed with the tone of the message sent from the Chief Executive at the 2 year anniversary of her appointment where she celebrated around 54 additional staff positions without recognising the fact that 59 current staff (Financial Counsellors) are experiencing great uncertainty about their futures.

The PSA will continue to keep members informed and involved in the campaign.