ADHC Nurses First To Be Hit

NSWNA members from ADHC Rydalmere Branch

The first group of nurses to face the new laws will be nurses working in NSW disability services.

Barry O’Farrell’s new laws not only set up an attack on public sector wages and conditions. The legislation also allows the government to dictate other policies to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC). There are no limits around what these might include.

At risk is the Public Health System night duty penalty case currently before the IRC.

The next Public Health System Award will be due in 2013, during the term of this government, and will be conducted under the conditions of these new laws.

But the first group of nurses to face the new laws will be nurses working in state-run disability services. Their award expired on 30 June 2011.

After public health system nurses receive their next scheduled pay rise this month, a full-time eighth year RN, working in a state-run disability service will be over $4,700 per annum worse off than an equivalent nurse in the public health system.

The immediate impact on nurses

  • The new laws will have an immediate impact on negotiations in Ageing, Disability and Home Care, which are about to commence.
  • The night duty case currently before the NSW IR Commission is under threat.
  • It will have an impact on Public Health System Award negotiations in 2013.
  • It may have an impact on the newly-won Public Health System Award, achieved in February.


The O’Farrell Government has shown its intentions towards the union movement. The NSWNA believes it is critical and prudent that all members move off payroll deductions, which are vulnerable to government interference and move immediately to paying your union fees by direct debit.

If you still pay your NSWNA membership by payroll deduction, please convert to direct debit now.

To make the change, go to the NSWNA website at, download the form and sign it, and fax it back or phone 85951234 to make the change.

Talk to your colleagues and encourage them to convert todirect debit as well.

Other things you can do:

  • Let your local Coalition MP know your strong opposition to the laws.
  • Keep up to date by regularly checking and talking to your colleagues at work to let them know what is happening.

‘I really feel for the ADHC nurses’

Rosemary Balzer, RN, Branch Official, Parramatta Justice Health is very concerned about the possible ramifications of these IR laws for nurses concerning penalty rates and the environmental allowance. ‘The environmental allowance, especially is an incentive for nurses who work in the jails, because we work in at risk, volatile environments that can quickly become dangerous. And we would also hate to lose our penalty rates.

‘Although I’m from the old school of nursing and would keep working no matter what, pay and conditions are very important to attracting the next generation, especially with the high cost of living.

‘I really feel for the ADHC nurses who are going through this fight now. That’ll be us soon. If ADHC pay and conditions get cut, it’s going to be very hard to attract people into that sector as it’s a hard field to work in.’

O’Farrell has no mandate for these changes

Rhondda Vasallo, a disability CNC at Rydalmere Centre in Western Sydney, says it is dishonest of the government to spring these laws straight after the election, without having put them to the electorate.

‘I was surprised because there was absolutely no mention of them during the election campaign. It was deceit by omission,’ she says.

Rhondda says the normal link in pay between the public health system and disability nurses is now broken.

‘We are just about to enter into a new round of negotiations for our award but we won’t have the same capacity to go to the IR Commission,’ she said.

‘One of the biggest issues for us already in ADHC is the recruitment of RNs and ENs. The wage disparity with the rest of public health system nurses will make this worse.’

‘We expect that younger nurses will go to other parts of the public health system, especially with the increasing cost of living in Sydney.’

‘We’re the first cab off the rank in dealing with these laws. We are getting good support from the Association. It would be sensational to get support from other nurses in the public health system too.’