Professionals Australia’s ACT director David Smith has condemned DSTO’s cuts to workplace counseling services, in The Canberra Times today.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Thousands of Defence Department public servants have had their workplace counseling services axed as the federal government’s cuts bite deeper in departmental budgets.
More than 2360 workers at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation have been told ”budget constraints” are to blame for the withdrawal of their on-site employee support programs, with their union accusing DSTO bosses of ”a complete lack of empathy”.
Professionals Australia’s ACT Director David Smith says the need for counselling for workplace issues among DSTO staff has never been greater as 155 of the scientists, technicians and engineers contemplate redundancy as part of the organisation’s downsizing program.
Workers have been told their usual service provider, Converge International, has been dumped and that any DSTO staff who are struggling with issues should phone their parent department, Defence, to arrange an appointment with a counsellor.
Professionals Australia understands that 1000 DSTO staff at Edinburgh RAAF base north of Adelaide will lose their on-site support under the cost-cutting move, to be replaced with a dial-a-counsellor arrangement.
The news was broken in a staff bulletin sent out last week. The circular advised that there would no longer be counsellors on site at DSTO workplaces in Edinburgh, Fishermans Bend in Melbourne, or Sydney.
Mr Smith said the move was made without any warning to the DSTO workers or their union.
”This has meant there was no opportunity to consider the consequences of the loss of services, including the risks to individuals and the organisation, or any other alternatives,” Mr Smith said.
”Employees will have access to a reduced service, mainly delivered over the phone.
”DSTO has been unwilling to disclose the savings from cutting the services or the reduction in service standards.
”There seems to have been little thought of the impact on employees currently using the service.”
Mr Smith said he was concerned that the move showed a lack of empathy by DSTO managers.
”The cuts demonstrate a complete lack of empathy from the organisation,” Mr Smith said. ”They are prepared to trade off the well-being of their workforce for a few pennies.”
Read complete coverage in The Canberra Times, Defence counseling service falls victim to cuts , Noel Towell, 15 July 2014.