Health and Community Services Union members rally outside Denis Napthine’s office. A COMMITTED group of the region’s mental health workers rallied on Liebig Street yesterday to raise awareness for an industrial dispute of their own.
Nanjing Night Net

Just weeks after hospital nurses and midwives were awarded a 21 per cent pay increase, Warrnambool’s psychiatric nurses, mental health clinicians and workers stopped work for two hours to hold the community rally outside the office of Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine.

The two-hour strike and protest rally was part of an ongoing statewide industrial and community campaign in support of enterprise bargaining claims for fair pay and conditions, as well as increased funding to mental health services in Victoria.

Health and Community Services Union state organiser Angela Landmann said despite an election promise to fix the problems, through negotiations the state government had failed to improve services or resolve any bargaining points.

“Today we’re raising awareness about the crisis in mental health services,” she said.

“The Chief Psychiatrist did an investigation into deaths at mental health facilities, recommending we increase staff levels and hire more highly-trained staff.

“Mental health makes up about 20 per cent of health needs but only gets seven to 10 per cent of funding.

“The government wants to remove funding from the community teams in Warrnambool to deal with resourcing issues.

“After Easter we’ve voted to take further action if we still see no results, so we’ll be increasing rolling stoppages across the state.”

About 50 mental health workers across Warrnambool and more than 100 in the south-west could be asked to take part in further action.

Union assistant state secretary Paul Healey said mental health services struggled to cope with demand.

“The suicide rate in the community is higher than the road toll,” Mr Healey said.

“The Baillieu government made big promises before the state election to fix the problems, but have failed to deliver.”

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