It’s been such an active year for the HSU that it’s only now, looking back, that we can take stock of all the things we’ve done together.
I’m immensely proud of HSU members’ work this year. We’ve recently heard the Fair Work Commission announce a 15% pay increase for aged care workers in direct care roles – a solid start, but we’re keeping the pressure on for all workers to receive a 25% increase. Meanwhile, members in ambulance successfully lobbied the NSW Government to add another 2000 paramedics – again, not the end game, but a great achievement along the way to professional pay and recognition.
It’s no secret that it has been a tough year. Cost of living pressures have steeply escalated, making it even harder for workers to put food on the table. But in response, the HSU has stepped up its game. It’s not the time to take our foot off the pedal.
Recently, you will have seen the HSU’s advertisements to Fix NSW Health. This is a major part of the $1 million state election campaign that was endorsed at this year’s Delegates Conference. To fix pay and conditions for members working in public health and ambulance, we need to make sure our concerns are represented at a political level. That means leaning on politicians of all persuasions to make sure HSU members get what they need.
Right now, Health spending accounts for a whopping $33 billion – that’s one third of the total NSW budget. Health funding has been going up at double the rate of inflation, but it still isn’t getting to where it needs to go. Departments are still understaffed and under strain, and HSU members’ pay isn’t keeping up. We need to take charge of this situation and ensure that funding is properly allocated. The HSU is calling for a Royal Commission into where the health dollar is going. Only a Royal Commission has the power to subpoena documents and compel testimony to ensure that all the funding arrangements are laid bare.
We don’t have all the answers yet, but what is clear right now is that some people are taking the lion’s share of health funding while much of the system is struggling. Some people may find the content of the ads shocking. I want to make this clear – we are not attacking individuals, but we are criticising the funding imbalances that allow for such a massive disparity. There are very many hard-working junior medical officers, career medical officers and staff specialists in our health system – they deserve recognition, just as every other health worker does.
HSU members will be ramping up the campaign in the next few months, and I encourage you to take every opportunity to get involved. This time won’t come again.
Lastly, I want to wish you and your family a very happy and restful festive season.