Wednesday 24 June 2009

Estimates Committee B (Thorp) - Part 2

Mr FINCH - I have one more question in respect of some revelations we had this morning about overtime that is paid at Risdon Prison.  I was a bit gob-smacked this morning to learn that their overtime bill is up to $3.8 million.  I am wondering whether you quantify the overtime that is paid at Ashley, seeing that it is a similar circumstance.

Ms THORP - I can guarantee you that that would not be the case.

Mr EVANS - It would not be $3.8 million.

Mr FINCH - Minister, if there are no details available-

Ms THORP - For the whole of Human Services by operational units we have the overtime.  We would have to break it down for Ashley for you, but we can do that.

Mr FINCH - Thank you very much.
Ms THORP - Will that be on notice?

CHAIR - Yes, you will receive a request letter.


Ms JACOB - Can I just add the information that was asked in relation to Ashley overtime? We have that figure for you, if you would like to take it.

CHAIR - Thank you, yes.

Ms JACOB - The year-to-date figure for 2008-09 is $249 230 spent on overtime at Ashley.

Mr FINCH - So a quarter of a million dollars for the year.

Ms JACOB - Yes.

Mr FINCH - Just in overtime?

Ms JACOB - That is correct, but that is in the context of an overall budget bill of over $5 million. 

CHAIR - Of salaries.

Ms JACOB - Salaries.  So if you look at salaries over-

Mr FINCH - Yes.  I remember organisations years ago just said, 'No overtime.  Plan all your staffing and arrangements to include no overtime.' So I think it is an area, just from these two figures that I have seen, that needs some scrutiny.

Ms THORP - Worth examination.

Mr FINCH - Absolutely.  If we are looking at laying people off, trying to set the figure of 800 people, and Risdon is $3.8 million, how many people could you hire there-put extra people on, save people working overtime, save people for OH&S reasons?

Ms THORP - No, fair point.  One of the situations that has some impact on Ashley, of course, is that it is based at Deloraine.  So you have a reasonably small population pool.

CHAIR - It is only about an hour from Launceston.

Ms THORP - True.

CHAIR - Or less.

Ms THORP - There are reasons why you would use the people you have on overtime rather than create new positions.  But anyway, I think you raise a very fair point.

Mr FINCH - I imagine they are 12-hour shifts.  To me, if you have people there who have really solid, difficult work to do with young people and you get them beyond eight hours and they are pulling another four-hour shift, I do not know.  Assure me, but I do not think sometimes, through tiredness and fatigue, they are going to be in a fit state to handle situations that may arise.

Ms THORP - Yes.  I am getting the impression that this size of overtime bill out of a wages budget of nearly $6 million is not considered excessive, but I think you raise completely valid points about fatigue, the number of positions not starting highly enough.  Now that you have raised it with me, I will certainly find out more about it. 

Mr GAFFNEY - It is probably also important to say that not all of that overtime bill is related to youth workers and staff who are working directly with young people.  A significant amount of it is kitchen staff, administrative staff and cleaning staff.  So it is not necessarily just the one-on-one youth worker. 

Mr FINCH - Rosters might need to be looked at so that people do not accrue overtime and you learn to live within your means.  If you are able to whack up and include into your average spend an overtime situation, you are going to grow to depend on that. 

CHAIR - I think the committee was gob-smacked this morning.  We are still not quite over the shock. 

Ms THORP - Fair enough, too.  One final point if I may on that: we have no control over the number of kids coming in and when.  That requires us to be quite flexible with staff.  I am not trying to make an excuse but it is a factor. 

Mr GAFFNEY - I know disabilities is one of your pet projects.  I have read in the media release and the notes an increase of $28 million over four years to deliver long-awaited pay rises to 1 500 disability support workers. 

Ms THORP - I am absolutely delighted about that. 

Mr GAFFNEY - There is expenditure relating to additional funding under the National Disability Agreement.  The third one is implementation of the reviews and performance by KPMG.  I know that I will probably only have to ask one question and get a really solid response, but I would like to put on notice my interest in independent living opportunities for young people with disabilities. 

One of the recommendations of the KPMG review was the establishment of regional area networks throughout Tasmania between non-government organisations and Government agencies with an interest in delivery of services to people with disabilities, their families and carers to plan and monitor services.  This recommendation was adopted.  I just want to know where it is going for 2007-10.