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Member Update 6th December 2012

6th December 2012

Dear Members,

Since my last contact a meeting has been held with the DEC and AST management at the request of Brian Smyth King Director of Disability Programs who asked that some Association members attend the city office on the 5th November. This meeting was to present to us the progression of the Contract Guidelines and also introduce the new method the AST will be implementing in hiring TSOs.

At this meeting we were introduced to the new Assistant Director of the ASTU Suzanne Rothwell, who was previously the Director of Disabilities Services in Queensland. Also attending were Brian Smyth King, Phil Hirst, David Malcolm, Brian Manning and five members from the Contractor Association.

The meeting mainly revolved around the new employment relationship between AST and TSOs, now renamed Assisted School Travel Officers, plus explanations from David Malcolm on the Contract Guidelines. The subject of Category Sliding and the manner in which this will now be addressed was fully explained and does appear to be a much fairer and more acceptable method, though I feel comment on this would be better left until after the final draft has been published on the website. A link to this was attached with the recently emailed ESP Confirmation Form but to date it has not been published. If you did not receive this email please contact the ASTU ASAP. I have since received advice from some members that while they had sent their form back by the due date they have recently received a phone call from AST advising that they had not yet received them. If you are concerned that yours may not have been received it might be wise to email and gain confirmation of receipt.

The request from members attending the Wyong meeting to have a knowledgeable person be accessible to Operators – namely David Malcolm – has been granted. David, now leads a team that is responsible for a much wider portfolio in support of the Department, the ASTP remains within his portfolio but is only one contract of 120 under his influence. David and his team will still remain contactable to operators needing his help or advice but they cannot influence issues relating to Run allocation, increasing Run capacity or new entry to the ESP list.

My last update (apart from the Minutes of the Wyong meeting) was sent in September and since then, many members have been inquiring as to the outcome of the meeting held in Wollongong and to be fully informed about items arising but not yet fully explained from the Campbelltown and the first DEC meeting.

The main concern coming from the first DEC meeting in July and a surprise to both Les and myself was discovering that there was an already included allowance in our set rates for mapping inaccuracies. (Briefly mentioned in the last Minutes) This information was not forwarded to members at the time because it was still being debated with work in progress on the final figures. Our view on this was submitted to David and Phil at the Wollongong Meeting and this figure has now been substantially reduced. It should soon be available in the Contract Guidelines.

Our meeting at Campbelltown further discussed the Included allowance also brought some surprises. Mainly the view the AST seemed to have of operators and again we felt further comments and discussions were necessary. It is important to note here that due to the ongoing changes within the ASTU this “view” or “culture” has now been recognized by “the powers that be” and methods have been imposed to rectify much of this. While these opinions were insulting, Les and I believe blame should not be laid since much is a learned practice dating back decades. It will take time but hopefully now with recognition and the more modern outlook from Suzanne, many of these outdated views will be changed.

At Wollongong some previously unmentioned issues were also put forward which David is looking into – the problems with time when a run has a second school, rates for a third leg of a run and more students than vehicle capacity.

A few members have inquired as to what efforts besides the original submissions have been made by the Association to have the issues addressed, so I have decided to attach for you some of the arguments and thoughts that have been put forward over the past few months. Please note, the attached page titled “Transparent Clauses” was purposefully written “tongue in cheek” to impact the effect if taken to the extreme when clarifying operations as they currently stood. These and other matters have since been addressed. The pages titled “The Wrong View” and “Who is Dishonest” are simply thoughts arising from the unexpected realization of certain ASTU views. “Various Clauses” are the responses to the Contract Guideline Draft and I have also included email exchanges where they contain content on issues. While it appears thus far our efforts have made no difference, advances are apparent with work continuing on clarifying the contract and amending differing interpretations. To many it’s disappointing that so much time has elapsed and strictly speaking, at this point nothing as yet has been fully resolved, but I do believe this is not a Departmental “stalling tactic” and that the eventual outcome is promising.

Other members have indicated that many of the smaller points may have been “lost” within the original submissions and have proposed that a more concentrative method should be used. Because of this, a few members are meeting tomorrow to discuss a way to submit in point form the most urgent of day to day operations still plaguing them in the hope resolutions can at least be made before the start of next year and the signing of a new contract.

There is to be a follow up meeting with the DEC and AST management next week where we plan to hand them the point form list and separately provide the corresponding details to Suzanne for further understanding.

The site team assures me that over the holidays time will be spent updating the website and fixing those pesky sign in problems. They will also attempt to gain permission to add duplicate content from the DEC website which should make it easier for members to navigate and access relevant information. If not permitted, information will be re written with links supplied.

The New Working with Children Check due to start 11th February 2012 will hold information sessions in all areas. Below is the Link to find one in your area.

http://kids.nsw.gov.au/kids/working/newcheck/informationsessions.cfm

Regards

Rhonda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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