Media Release: More than 100 staff walk off the job in mental health crisis

Wednesday 24 Mar 2021

 MEDIA RELEASE: MORE THAN 100 STAFF WALK OFF THE JOB IN MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

More than 100 mental health workers across Perth are expected to walk off the job today as part of the Health Services Union WA’s (HSUWA) campaign to secure more funding for child mental health services, which are currently at crisis point in WA.   

The stop work meetings will take place from 12pm for one hour, at 7 or more Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) clinics across Perth and at the Perth Children’s Hospital mental health ward.

The action began earlier this month, when more than 20 staff stopped work at a secure mental health unit at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Since then, more HSUWA members have voted to participate in protests to call on the state government to urgently provide funding for an additional 75 staff in CAMHS clinics.

Health Services Union WA Secretary Naomi McCrae said, CAMHS clinics across Perth were at crisis point, with some CAMHS Clinics taking more than 82 referrals already this month. 

“The Chief Psychiatrist’s Targeted Review into the Treatment of Ms Kate Savage by CAMHS, made several recommendations, which the government has not acted on,” she said. 

“The Chief Psychiatrist himself urged the government to “immediate uplift the clinical workforce in Community CAMHS” so we don’t “condemn a generation to worsening mental health throughout their lives”, but the process is still taking too long. 

“The Ministerial Taskforce set up to look into the issues with CAMHS is welcomed but will take at least a year or more to finalise, these centres can’t wait that long, they are at crisis point and need action from the WA Government now.   

“We are alarmed at the significant continued risks the current system presents to vulnerable and at-risk children, adolescents and their families while this important, but lengthy, process takes place.

“We are calling for the government to fully fund the state’s mental health plan, but immediately fund 75 new staff for CAHMS clinics. Children’s lives are at risk, with some families having to wait up to 10 weeks to get help assistance. 

“We also call on the CAHS Executive to stop silencing workers from being heard and instead assure workers that if they speak about their experiences to politicians or the media, they will not be alleged to have committed misconduct,” Ms McCrae said.

 

The HSUWA and its members collectively:

  1. Condemn the ongoing failures of successive governments to properly fund the Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015 – 2025.
  1. Call on the incoming State Government to act on the promises made on 14 December 2020 in the media release ‘Children’s Mental Health Review’ that it would immediately: 
  • Enhance the recently established CAMHS Emergency Telehealth Service and boost the capacity for mental health assessment and support within the Perth Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.
  • Implement a model for peer workers to support families accessing the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
  • Undertake planning of community intensive treatment services for children and adolescents, in conjunction with the work of the taskforce review.
  1. Call on the incoming State Government to provide additional funding to urgently employ an additional 75 staff (FTE) in Community CAMHS. 
  1. Seek a commitment from the incoming State Government that these steps must be implemented now, not after the Minister Taskforce into CAMHS is completed in late 2021. We are alarmed at the significant continued risks the current system presents to vulnerable and at-risk children, adolescents and their families while this important, but lengthy, process takes place. 
  1. Seek a commitment from the incoming State Government that ALL the recommendations of the Minister Taskforce into CAMHS will be funded and implement as an urgent government priority.
  1. Condemn the CAHS Executive for continuing to employ mental health workers on an insecure basis and calls on the CAHS Board to intervene and direct that permanent employment be offered to all insecurely employed mental health workers within 14 days.
  1. Call on the CAHS Executive to stop silencing workers from being heard and instead assure workers that if they speak about their experiences to politicians or the media, they will not be alleged to have committed misconduct.
  1. Commit to take further and ongoing industrial action until the immediate crises in CAMHS is addressed.

<ends>

Media contact: Rebecca Munro 0418 962 542 rmunro@cgmcommunications.com.au

HSUWA represents more than 18,000 people employed in WA’s public hospitals and health services, including for example administrative staff, clerks, technicians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, medical imaging technologists, clinical psychologists, social workers, medical scientists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, podiatrists, radiation therapists, mental health workers, and other health professionals. All play a vital role in our health system.

Get In Touch