With few of the perks that their Public Sector peers have won, Health Professionals in the Not-for-profit sector face a number of issues in their work places. Many Health Professionals working in the Not-for-profit sector often have to work alone in clients homes, work with clients with complex health issues and have to make difficult decisions on the spot. In circumstances like this, Occupational Therapist, Kim Vien, found a great deal of help and support from the VHPA.

Having previously worked in the Public Sector, Kim, began work at Yooralla four years ago. She was drawn to the autonomy and freedom of being able to tailor therapy to individual clients over an extended period of time and being able to directly see the progress that clients were making, something that was sometimes elusive to her while working in the Public Sector. Although there were many of rewards in working in the Not-for-profit sector for Kim, the role also meant a significant difference in pay and conditions compared to working in the Public Sector. Although her management was very clear about the differences between the Agreement at Yooralla and the Public Sector Agreement, she felt it wasn’t fair that Health Professionals in Not-for-profit sector were receiving less than those in the Public Sector when they are doing similar work but often in more risky circumstances.

After experiencing the stark contrast between the Public Sector and working in the Not-for-profit sector, Kim became a member shortly after starting at Yooralla. Kim’s commitment to achieving better outcomes for Health Professionals in her sector meant that she soon became a delegate- a challenging time for her as the Enterprise Agreement had been in negotiation for two years. The HSU was also going through a time of difficulty and transition and at times, Kim was disappointed with the support she and her fellow members at Yooralla were receiving. Rather than quit her role, Kim voiced her concerns with the new VHPA and was relieved with the invigorated response she received.

Shortly after, she was contacted by Emma Brelsford who has been working with Kim and the members at Yooralla since. Kim has found the newfound energy and optimism at the union greatly inspiring. This has helped to develop focus on what the Yooralla members want to achieve through negotiations as well as building strength and unity among the members.

Knowing that the union is behind Kim and the members at Yooralla has been invaluable throughout the negotiation process but the simple task of participating in delegate training opened up a range of opportunities that Kim was previously unaware of.  Like many people, Kim hadn’t looked at her Agreement in any depth until delegate training and learning more about what her rights were (and weren’t) under the Agreement has meant she has a much clearer idea of what should and shouldn’t occur in her workplace. Meeting other delegates and hearing their stories broadened her understanding of the role of the union- that the union provides support not just for Enterprise Bargaining and issues with pay but a range of workplace concerns like conflict with management or when members have their job role restructured.

Kim hopes that large service providers in the sector become more progressive and responsive to the needs of Health Professionals. Indeed, negotiations at Yooralla are at a critical point- with the launch of the NDIS, individual or smaller groups of service providers may figure largely in the future of disability services meaning that larger service providers will need to offer competitive pay and conditions to retain staff. We hope this means Health Professionals like Kim will soon have a better deal and thanks to the dedication and motivation of delegates like her, we may soon see a breakthrough for members at Yooralla.

Delegate training made a big impact on Kim’s ability to stand up for her own and other member’s rights at work. If you would like to become a delegate or are interested in delegate training contact us on 1300 322 917.