The Baillieu Government must avoid a repeat of the nurses’ industrial relations debacle and start negotiating with Victorian mental health workers in good faith, the Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Gavin Jennings, said today.
Mr Jennings said the Premier had learned nothing from his bungled management of the nurse’s dispute and was adopting the same aggressive and combative industrial relations approach to Victoria’s mental health workers.
“After six months of fruitless talks, the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has said it will commence rolling stoppages unless the Baillieu Government starts good faith negotiations,” Mr Jennings said.
“These workers include psychiatric nurses, social workers and psychologists, who have some of the toughest jobs in the State.
“Like the nurses, they deserve Mr Baillieu’s respect.
“Mr Baillieu must show he cares for these workers and their families and demonstrate he is serious about achieving a fair agreement for better pay and conditions.”
Mr Jennings said there was a very simple way for Mr Baillieu to avoid disruptions.
“All he has to do is agree to sit down with mental health workers and start talking to them,” he said.
“They deserve respect and to be paid fairly for their work.”
Before he became Premier, Mr Baillieu said a strong and vibrant mental health workforce was vital to improving service delivery.
“But Victorians are beginning to realise the Government they have got is very different to the one they voted for,” Mr Jennings said.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary, Wade Noonan, who is assisting Mr Jennings on mental health workforce issues, condemned the Baillieu Government for shelving Labor’s comprehensive workforce strategy.
“The Baillieu Government has no plan to recruit, train or retain mental health workers in Victoria,” Mr Noonan said.
“A failure to properly support and staff the mental health sector with trained professionals will leave vulnerable Victorians at risk.”