It seems like yesterday that I was sitting here writing last years December (Christmas) article, and here we are again. This year as Field Officer, I have assisted over 500 members with various matters including welfare, housing, pay, leave, rosters and a range of other workplace issues and enquires. It is always an honour to be able to help you.
Throughout the year a number of matters were raised with Police Management and HRM that were successfully resolved, including the issue around Rec Leave acquittal, which now gives members the choice of how they want to their Rec Leave hours calculated and deducted (either using the hours as per roster method or utilising the average 8hrs per shift/40hrs per week method).
We were also able to successfully lobby the Commissioner and have him reverse his decision to cease Workers Compensation Top Up payments to members suffering long term injury.
I am pleased to say that commonsense also prevailed with a successful outcome achieved in our call for changes to the way members were being rostered on Point of Sale Interventions (POSI) shifts, where members were being rostered up to three rosters (15 weeks) straight on the POSI roster. This change to rostering practise now sees the workload of POSIs distributed more fairly and evenly and members will not find themselves stuck at bottle shops for weeks at a time.
Speaking of POSIs, during our recent visit to Alice Springs, NTPA President and I took the opportunity to visit and speak to members working at all POSI locations that day. Along with providing them with some cooling refreshments on a very warm 38 degree Alice Springs day, we were able to get their views and ideas on the effectiveness of POSIs, alternatives to having Police at bottle shops, and how they could be better managed and run. Thank you to those members for your input and suggestions.
During the year I also participated in a number of Departmental reviews and working groups, in particular the ACPO Review. Although the ACPO Review recommendations have not been actioned by Senior Police Management to date, one positive to come from it was the decision to train and equip ACPO members with firearms. I thank all the ACPO members, and others, who contributed to both the arming of ACPOs and the ACPO Review discussions and I hope that eventually something good will come from some of the recommendations made in the review.
Currently I am part of a working group reviewing the current roster worked by Darwin Metro Command members. I am optimistic that if all goes to plan, the new year will see members working a more popular and less fatiguing roster, something long overdue. One of the best parts of my job is that throughout the year I am able to visit a number of bush stations and meet with both members and their families. I thank everyone who we visited this year for their hospitality and welcome.
It is always good to get the perspective and opinions of members families, particularly those working at remote locations. We also welcomed the news that the Commissioner has contracted the not for profit support organisation Alongside to provide support and education services to the partners and families of our hard working members. This is an area that has been ignored in the past and we look forward to seeing this program develop over time and support those family members who support our hard working Police Officers.
On a welfare note, in October, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the PFES Mental Health First Aid Training that was conducted in Darwin. The training was conducted by Support & Wellbeing Coordinator Julian Robinson and Wellbeing and Health Officer Karen ODwyer. The course is well run, thought provoking and you will gain a lot of information and skills that will help you in your workplace. There will be a five courses held across the Northern Territory in the first half of 2017, and I encourage anybody interested to apply. More details on Mental Health First Aid are available on page XX of this magazine.
As we look forward 2017 will no doubt be a busy and active year, with a number of issues still to be resolved. Hopefully we will be in a positon to get a satisfactory outcome on a number of matters including the long overdue Single Officer Patrol Policy and the introduction of an alternative to members standing at bottle shops, one up, doing the work of a security guard.
Industrially it will be a big year too, as we commence our next 2017 Consent Agreement negations on 1 February. We have just completed our presentations to members on the CA survey results and have received some really good feedback and ideas from members.
The email address firstname.lastname@example.org will remain active all the way throughout the negotiation period for you to send in your ideas and suggestions or questions. We will continue to provide you with as many updates as we can, as we move through the preparation and negotiation periods.
REASONABLY AVAILABLE V ON CALL. THAT OLD CHESTNUT&
Over the past few months we have been contacted by various members at a number of bush stations, seeking clarification on the meaning of on call versus reasonably available.
The Consent Agreement 2014 allows for a component of the Consolidated Remote Incentive Allowance (CRIA) to paid to members in recognition of availability.
Clause 31 (f) (ii) CRIA is an allowance that replaces and includes the Tennant Creek attraction allowance, locality bonuses, satellite television and internet payments and freight allowance and includes a component in recognition of availability/attraction.
Clause 31(f) (iv) then goes on to describe availability as Reasonably available does not mean on-call. It means members will agree to return to duty provided they are contactable and are in a position to do so.
What this means is that you are not on-call and cant be expected to be available 24/7 365 days a year. You are entitled to take some time off, spend it with your family or pursue your hobbies or interests, which may mean that, at times you are not contactable, therefore not available to return to duty, as per the definition.
Obviously common-sense should apply and if you know that you are not going to be contactable for a period of time, then other arrangements need to be in place (such as, coverage of your area by other stations, hold over of jobs etc.). We encourage all members at bush stations to get clear directions from their Divisional Officers on how they want them to manage this, but remember you are not on-call.
Lastly, I would like to thank our Delegates in the Regions for your assistance over the past 12 months and I look forward to working with you all in the coming year. Your hard work is the backbone of our Association.
I wish all members and their families a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you are working over the Christmas period New Year period, stay safe and look after each other.