Major Workplace Change

VAHPA Members are no strangers to change within their workplaces, indeed sometimes it is clear that the only constant is change.  Workplace change however is made significantly harder by Agreements with woefully inadequate clauses around workplace change and consultation.  This includes the current Public Sector Agreement, as well as a range of Agreements in the private sector.

“It is vital that Enterprise Agreements provide employees with access to the decision making process with regard to workplace change,” said VAHPA Secretary, Craig McGregor.  “They’re the people best placed to understand the implications of any proposed change for Allied Health Professionals, patients and the delivery of healthcare. Members fought to have this problem rectified to a large extent in Community Health; those in the public sector now have an opportunity to do likewise,” concluded McGregor.

Members at Calvary and St Vincent’s have taken a strong stand on worrying trends in workplace change in recent weeks.

Calvary  Healthcare

Calvary Healthcare recently announced proposed staff cuts in response to funding changes. The move could see a reduction in Heads of Department (HOD/Grade 4) and Senior Clinicians (Grade 3) in allied health.

Historically, union engagement with Calvary has been poor. As a result, membership density was low and activists were left unsupported. We have largely overcome this historical failing through a series of workplace meetings and have facilitated the creation of a VAHPA delegation. The delegation has commenced negotiations with management on the proposed workplace changes. Consequently, the timeline has been extended and the proposed process amended.

On the ground, VAHPA Members did two important things: they recruited new members and did a mountain of work on understanding the changes and the implications of those changes for both staff and patients.

The final proposal was further amended and, whilst there will be a small reduction in Senior Clinician EFT in one discipline, there will be NO loss of staff at this level.


VAHPA Members go forward in the knowledge that their collective action made a difference. “It’s an amazing outcome” said  Lisa Pointon, a Speech Therapist at Calvary “The VAHPA have done a fabulous job for our service and achieved what I wouldn’t have thought possible.  Well done and thank-you. It’s been a tough month!  I’m staying with VAHPA and have encouraged all colleagues to join”

VAHPA Membership at Calvary has grown by over 60%.

St Vincent’s

Parallel to the Calvary restructure, staff at St Vincent’s were hearing that there were big cuts coming their way.  And by ‘big’ we mean 25% of the total budget savings required by St Vincent’s coming directly from Allied Health.

Staff in one department were told that they would be cutting the weekend roster in order to address budget constraints. Neither the staff nor the union were consulted about the proposed changes.

“When I made enquiries, St Vincent’s HR explicitly denied any change was happening,” said VAHPA Organiser, Emma Brelsford. “It’s an odd response, given Members had already received advice about it.”

Again, members had to organise in order to be taken seriously. VAHPA Delegates had been active at St Vincent’s with union recruitment; this work saw an increase in members numbers by 11% in the first half of this year. However, in the face of this acute matter membership has soared. Delegates at St Vincent’s can now boast an increase in membership of over 45% this year! Whatever transpires with this restructure, VAHPA Members are ready.

“It’s great to see Allied Health Professionals responding to difficult workplace circumstances in a pro-active way,” said VAHPA Secretary, Craig McGregor.  “It sends a strong message to management that we’ll stand together and fight. This bodes well not just for this restructure but for the upcoming Enterprise Agreement negotiations” concluded McGregor.
VAHPA Members at various workplaces including Melbourne Health are currently working their way through a range of workplace change scenarios. “Whilst the outcomes can be very different from workplace to workplace or even between departments within the same health service, the one consistent factor must be a strong, active and organised body of VAHPA Members,” noted Lead Organiser, Linda Jenkin. “Unity and organisation is crucial to achieving a positive outcome for patients and staff alike.”