We approach the end of another year – one that will be recorded in history as exposing the fragility of our health, relationships, anxieties, patience, and economy. The community has been tested through drought, fire storms, floods and COVID-19. HSU members have been front and centre throughout all of these challenges.
Public Health members have turned up every day to support the community while simultaneously dealing with their own anxieties around catching and spreading the virus, or even worse, infecting their own loved ones. The pandemic has brought the realisation that every single health worker is needed to ensure a safe hospital and contribute to patient care. Having long been neglected, cleaners have finally been highlighted for their outstanding work in keeping COVID-19 out of hospitals.
Paramedics have continued to engage with the community and ensure emergency medical care is delivered in a COVID-safe manner.
Aged Care members have been incredibly diligent in keeping our elderly safe. We all know how devastating coronavirus can be if it gets into Aged Care facilities but with the care, commitment and diligence that has been displayed, it’s clear a catastrophe has been averted.
Members within Private Health were prepared for an overflow of patients if the worst-case scenario should come to pass. They have also continued to ensure that patients got the best possible care throughout the pandemic, while members in private pathology have been instrumental in rolling out large scale testing for the virus.
I also want to acknowledge the organising staff of the HSU, who have continually visited and supported members through the darkest days of the pandemic. We have augmented our staff significantly this year to make sure we attend to all members’ needs, and I’m proud to say the entire staff has come together to overcome the challenges that have come thick and fast.
While the pandemic is not yet over, there is now a sense of hope and optimism that might have seemed like wishful thinking even a few months ago. There is every likelihood that 2021 will bring a vaccine and with it, the opportunity to resume our lives as normal – or at least as close to normal as possible. Throughout the year, the Union has continued to fight for members through:
The Aged Care Royal Commission
Our work value case – a 25% increase for aged care workers
Lifting of parking fees for members
Making sure members have adequate PPE
Negotiating enterprise agreements and winning back pay for members
The year ahead will be challenging. We’re going to have to fight to get the recognition and remuneration we deserve from some close-fisted governments. HSU members have been on the front lines, protecting the community throughout. We can’t let them forget it. But as 2021 appears over the horizon, I feel a glimmer of hope. As a Union, nothing can pry us apart. HSU members have proven themselves equal to any issue that comes along – there’s no reason to stop now.