At the most recent NCC meeting on 19 June with the company, the ASU was told about plans to launch “Care Crew”, a novel approach to managing mental health issues at Virgin Australia.
As it was presented to us, we heard that “Care Crew” would be a volunteer peer support programme launching in Ground Operations by September 2019. Following an interview process with management, employees would get 2 days training to perform ‘Mental Health First Aid’ in the workplace. This would be in a strictly unpaid, volunteer capacity and may not be on work time.
ASU delegates raised immediate concerns about the importance of managing confidentiality for all types of health issues at work. The union also raised concerns and queries that remain unanswered.
What we don't know
• Is this programme suitable for the work that you do? Virgin Australia already offers employees a referral to a psychologist through the company’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
• What are the risks? We asked Virgin Australia to provide their detailed risk assessment for the proposal, as well as the training requirements developed for successful “Care Crew” volunteers. We haven’t received this information and will write to the company to make the request more formal.
• What’s the context? A low cost programme like this shouldn’t be implemented in place of properly addressing occupational health and safety risks in your workplace.
There could be better ways to ensure that Virgin Australia meets all their occupational health and safety obligations. A peer support programme may not be the best way to manage psychological injury and illness at work. Other responses might incur a greater cost but be more effective responses that ensure that you are safe at work.
The ASU believes Virgin Australia should consider all options.
We want to hear from you
This is your chance to have your say about how the ASU works with you to improve your workplace conditions. Answer our short survey about health and safety issues at Virgin Australia:
The survey closes Monday, 5 August 2019.
A better deal brought to you by union members
Better outcomes at work are secured by the hard work, unity and persistence of union members at Virgin Australia. If you’re not a member, now is the time to join.
Join with your colleagues to demand respect at work by joining the ASU here:
If you have any questions speak with your local ASU representatives.
For more information download the full bulletin here Virgin Australia Bulletin #28 17 July 2019