COLAC mental health workers will rally for increased funding and better working conditions.
Colac members of the Heath and Community Services Union will join mental health workers across the state in stop-work rallies this month after failed negotiations with the State Government.
HACSU delegate Colin Carter of Barwon Health’s Colac Community Mental Health Service said the industry was “severely under-resourced”.
“Here in Colac we currently have five clinicians who work around-the-clock rosters, 24 hours a day, and cover the entire region from Lorne to Princetown, right through the Otways and back to Colac and Cressy,” Mr Carter said.
“On top of that we’re on-call overnight so we can respond to psychiatric emergencies, often at local hospitals, as well as assist the police and paramedics,” he said.
The union is lobbying for workers to receive a 16-per-cent pay rise over three years as well as increased staffing levels and professional specialist recognition for psychiatric nurses.
“A wage increase is important for staff, ideally an increase above inflation, but increasing funding for mental health services is what we’re focused on,” Mr Carter said.
“Mental illness makes up 20 per cent of Victoria’s health burden and only 10 per cent of the funding,” he said.
“We’re seeing the demand for mental health services increase, and part of that is because there’s much more public awareness about depression and other mental illnesses, which is good from a community perspective.
“But because the current workforce is so small, we can’t manage to keep up with that demand unless there’s a change.”
Mr Carter said Colac’s HACSU mental health workers would join a stop-work rally at Geelong on April 21.