Workplace champions fighting privatisation

Meet Deborah Stackpole, our No Privatisation Champion for the union agreement claim of more than 40,000 public sector workers across WA.

Deborah manages the provision of health care across WA’s prison system. A typical day for Deborah Stackpole is arriving at the office and finding out which doctors will be available to see prisoners who need medical attention in the WA prison system.

Deborah manages the rosters, including those in regional prisons where there are no doctors, leave and the needs of staff throughout the prison system.

Importantly, Deborah ensures that regional prisons get a visit; flying doctors in and out for either over night or day trips dependant on where they’re going.

“We don’t have enough doctors at the moment, we are under FTE. We do have recruitment permission but it will be probably three to six months before we have enough doctors on board. Because there has been an increase in prison population and the health centres were only designed for a certain capacity it’s now becoming difficult to get patients in to see a doctor in a timely manner. It’s pretty frustrating.”

“One of our policies is that on new admission to prison, the person will see a doctor within 28 days, so if they have got very urgent medication, they will see the doctor within 24 hours or a consult will be done with an on-call doctor straight away to get medication or treatment, but if they’re basically healthy and they don’t need medications they should see a doctor within 28 days and get age appropriate checks done. That’s not happening right now.

“My favourite thing about my job is the people. The doctors and staff in head office and at the prison sites. I’ve got really good relationships with the people who work in the health centres.”

“It used to be that as a public servant you could make a difference to the public, you could provide a service that made a difference to people that wouldn’t get that service anywhere else or at that standard.

“Public servants don’t do it for the money, I think you do it because you are genuinely concerned about the people you are dealing with and you want to make a difference.

“We know that on the whole when people go into prison, we improve their health and then we release them in a better health state than when they came in, with links back to their GP’s or specialists or hospital appointments. I feel good about that, what we do helps people.

Deborah feels like the public sector has changed and staff are under threat.

“We’re going to be told soon which of us have our jobs, which of us have to apply for jobs and what we’ll be doing that will be different. Every review we have had has said we can run our service cheaper and better than any other private company can and but it seems like they just don’t want that as an answer.

Deborah is most worried about the threat of privatisation in the WA public sector but more specifically in prisons.

“I don’t agree with making money out of people who don’t have a say like prisoners, hospitals, patients in hospitals, people with disabilities, people in disability homes, if they don’t have a voice I think it is fundamentally wrong to make money out of their situation.

“There are certain things the State supplies – you’re paying taxes you are paying for it anyway, your taxes pay for it, so if you need to go to hospital there should be a hospital that you can go to – free.

“If you need to get from A to B and you haven’t got a car you should be able to get there at a reasonable price on public transport and it should go from A to B in a reasonably direct route, which sometimes doesn’t happen. Power and water are essentials so I don’t think we should privatise them, because they will go up, you can guarantee they will go up.

“Acacia is run by Serco is now Australia’s biggest prison but it wasn’t designed to have such high numbers so there are a lot of concerns. The prison officers work differently, in the government prisons they work with prisoners. In Acacia it is all very behind glass, swipe carding people in through to different areas, it’s a different way of managing people. They’re watching, it’s surveillance.

“Our Union is asking for a clause to confirm that jobs, roles or activities undertaken by employees covered by the Agreement will not be privatised or outsourced during the term of the Agreement. I’m supporting the push to say no to privatisation because I believe that the public sector can deliver services to West Australians better than a for profit company can.”

The CPSU/CSA claim seeks to include a clause that will confirm that jobs, roles or activities undertaken by employees covered by the Agreement will not be privatised or outsourced during the term of the Agreement.

Today marks the beginning To check out the full claim, visit the Your Union Agreement campaign here.