Youth Justice - Psychometric Testing Update

03 April 2019

The PSA has recently received a response to our formal correspondence to the Department for Human Services (DHS) in relation to the roll out of psychometric testing for staff across Youth Justice.

The PSA vehemently objects to the Department’s decision to remunerate employees at the base rate of pay should there be a potential risk that needs further investigation (dot point 2).

The PSA vehemently objects to the Department’s decision to direct an employee away without remuneration should he/she be deemed not suitable to work in for employment in a Training Centre (dot point 5).

The PSA will be progressing and escalating these matters further with DHS. The PSA will not tolerate members being unfairly disadvantaged.

Below is a brief overview of some of the most important feedback provided by the PSA to DHS and their corresponding responses:

1. Psychological reassessment and special conditions:
The PSA requested confirmation that testing is only required as a once-off for employees.

DHS has advised that at this time a regular assessment cycle is not being considered but that PsychMed has recommended reassessment in exceptional circumstances. Each case will be considered on its merits and will take into account a range of information.

2. Remuneration following ‘potential risk’ status:
The PSA does not accept that if a potential risk has been identified, that the employee will be directed to remain absent from the workplace until further notice while being “remunerated at their base rate of pay.”

DHS has stated that employees are only entitled to be paid at the base rate of pay plus any all-purpose allowance. The PSA will be pursuing this matter further on behalf of members.

3. Topics of discussion at interview:
The PSA requested a change in wording to reflect that the testing is solely for the purpose of protecting the children and young people and is not to be used for any other reason.

DHS agreed to the following wording “Questions are only raised if relevant to the determination of a person’s suitability in relation to the protection of children and young people”.

4. Opportunity to respond:
The PSA requested that the timeframe for employees to respond to the panel’s determination (Stage Four) be extended from 7 to 14 days.

DHS has approved this an extension from 7 to 14 days.

5. Direction to remain absent when deemed ‘not suitable’:
The PSA objected to the notion that an employee, if deemed not suitable for employment in a Training Centre, will be directed to remain absent from the workplace without remuneration. The PSA stated this intention would contravene clauses 57 (3) (a) and (b) of the South Australian Public Sector Act 2009.

DHS do not agree with the PSA position and consider that when an employee is not fit to perform their duties they are unable to fulfil the inherent requirements of their role and as such are not entitled to be remunerated. The PSA will be pursuing this matter further on behalf of members.

6. Psychometric Assessment to be undertaken by executives:
The PSA contended that the psychometric testing should be undertaken by executive employees as the suitability criteria should be applied throughout the whole of Youth Justice.

DHS cited Attachment 2 of the Information for Staff document which outlined the roles required to complete psychometric testing in compliance with the Youth Justice Act section 21(A). The attachment does not include executive staff.

7. Timeframe for psychometric testing (Stage 1):
The PSA requested that a specific timeframe for results of the testing be provided to employees which should not be unduly prolonged.

DHS agreed with the PSA request. Consequently, employees will be advised of the psychometric testing results (stage 1) in writing within approximately 14 days after completion of the test.

8. ATSI and CALD employees:
The PSA requested that reference to the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse employees should be referenced in the Chief Executive’s Determination and Staff Information Summary.

DHS advised that Psychmed has specialised staff members within their teams who have experience working with and assessing ATSI and CALD backgrounds who will be consulted prior to finalising the testing result to see if more information is required through an interview. This information will be captured in the Staff Information Summary.

9. Literacy and Numeracy:
The PSA requested that reference to the specific needs of staff who may have challenges with numeracy and literacy should be referenced in the Chief Executive’s Determination and Staff Information Summary.

DHS advised that if employees require more time or assistance to complete the psychometric test,  that a psychologist from Psychmed will be available to provide face to face support. This information will be captured in the Staff Information Summary.

The PSA is aware that formal letters have been sent to the current listed postal addresses of all eligible staff providing information regarding the psychometric testing and intended time slots and venues.

The PSA will keep members informed and updated and will support members on a case by case basis if needed.

Please direct any questions to your PSA Organsier.