Patra's Other Place

I started out with Patra's Place, primarily dedicated to my linen collection and stitching projects. But I kept getting side-tracked, so I decided to create Patra's Other Place for anything not related to embroidery topics. So you now have a choice. If you are interested in me, read this. If you only want to see my linen and stitching, visit Patra's (original) Place! (Please note that by clicking on any of the photos, they will be enlarged to fill your computer screen.)

My Photo
Location: Melbourne, Vic., Australia

I am married to Ken. We have no children except a cat and a collection of Australian parrots, finches, canaries and a dozen hens.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sad September again.

Twelve months ago, I wrote several items on here about the month of September being jinxed. You can find it on the archives if you want to. Would you believe, this year, September has again been one of the worst months of the year so far?? Check this out...thank goodness today is the 30th!

September 1st: My employer lost contract to provide aged care service in our shire.
September 13th: Vaccum cleaner blew up. $300 paid out to replace it.
September 18th: Washing machine making strange humming noise. $77 paid to be told there is nothing wrong - just a rubber ring wearing.
September 24th: One of my dearest friends Helen had a severe stroke.
September 26th: Oven started overheating. Tradesman tells me it will cost about $200 to replace the thermostat to fix the problem. My comment: Guess it is cheaper than buying a new oven.
September 28th: Am told by new employer they can't offer me a job now since they have found out (from me) that I have osteoarthritis in my lower back. I'm too much of a risk for them. Never mind that Southern Cross were aware of my back problem, but they allowed me to choose jobs with lighter duties instead of heavy lifting.
Ho hum. I feel another letter to the newspaper coming on...

Update on Helen's condition.

Thanks to everyone who has posted comments here, or emailed and rung me to ask after Helen. I spoke to her husband Ray on Saturday afternoon. Helen is paralysed on her left side, and doesn't have much movement in her leg and arm. Her speech has been affected, but she can make herself understood, although she tires quickly when doing so. She has been having intense physiotherapy, and is showing signs of improvement. She has been inundated with flowers and emails, both of which have lifted her spirits considerably!Both her sons flew over to Perth to be with her for a short while, which was great for both Helen and Ray.

Her doctor in Perth has been in touch with the Stroke Unit at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, and when there is a bed available, Helen will be flown back to Melbourne when she is well enough to make the trip. Ray seems to think this won't be for at least another week or so. I'll post another message here when I find out more information.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Distressing news about my friend Helen.

I am hoping that some of Helen's blog readers will be reading this post. As you will know if you have been following Helen's Haven, she and her husband Ray have been in Western Australia, and as of yesterday were driving through a remote area of that state. Ray phoned me tonight (Monday) at 11 pm to tell me that Helen was in the Royal Perth Hospital. She suffered a stroke yesterday, which has left her partially paralysed on one side and with limited speech. She was flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. I am absolutely devastated. She had a mild stroke about two years ago, but recovered well from that, and has been under medical supervision since then. She has not been well recently, and before they went away, she confided that her health issues have been getting her down lately. She is usually so ebullient, as anyone who has met her will know.

Poor Ray is stuck in a motel room in Perth, on the other side of this continet on his own. I asked if Helen could be flown back to a Melbourne hospital, and he said not for a while, as she is too ill to move. Their older son volunteered to fly over to keep Ray company, but he said there's not much point as there is nothing they can do except wait. I am going to send flowers to her by Interflora tomorrow, so if anyone reading this has a message they would like to pass on, I will do my best to see that it is included or passed on to the hospital.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Andre Rieu playing Waltzing Matilda!

Well, I've just mastered another aspect of the Internet - YouTube! Some of our friends took their digital camera to Eastland at Ringwood yesterday, to get some pictures of Dutch violinist Andre Rieu, and they managed to capture him on video on their camera (isn't technology amazing!). They put it on to a CD for me to put on my blog and I've been messing around all night trying to upload it directly to the blog, but it just wouldn't work. So, I thought I may as well try this YouTube thing. I've heard enough about it, let's have a look. Easy Peasy!!! Created an account, just like Blogger, selected the video from my PC and away we went! If you want to see it, visit my blog for Andre's Australian fans.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Babies out for an airing!

It being such a nice day in Melbourne, Ken brought both baby budgies out of the nest box for their first look at the big wide world...not that they would see much! Here are some more photos (not as cute as Isabelle's black kitties, but we love our babies just as much!)
The green budgie was shy at first and tried to hide under Ken's arm.
But he came out (with help from me) and here they both are. Now the second one is growing more feathers, we can see that he won't be green like his sibling - he has blue and violet quills appearing!


Isn't it interesting to see what blogs people read? I have seven blogs on the go, and the one I thought would have the least readers has nearly the most! This is what my Stats. Counter website tells me:
Patra's Place (started April 2005)...............74,473 visits
Patra's Other Place (started July 2005)..........16,104 visits
Patracat's Memories (started March 2006)............550 visits
Patra's Peacocks (started August 2006).............3331 visits
Patra's Swapcards (started Feb. 2007)...............858 visits
Patra's Embroidered Aprons (started June 2007).....1164 visits
Aussie Fans for Andre Rieu (started March 2007)..16,620 visits

I understand why Patra's Place gets a lot of visits - there are so many people around the world who love embroidery as much as I do, and like to see my collection.
But the blog for Andre Rieu (Dutch violinist if you don't know him) has astounded me! I started it purely as a forum for Andre's fans to chat to each other, but it has grown a lot since then. I guess it makes sense, because he is HUGE in Europe and the USA, and has really taken off Down Under this year. He is in Australia at the moment, doing a quick PA visit - has been in Melbourne for two days, and is in Sydney on Sunday, for 'meet and greets'. He will be doing concerts here in November and December 2008, so if you haven't yet heard of him, I can practically guarantee you will by then!

Friday, September 21, 2007

On a happier note...

When Ken gets home from work early enough and it is still daylight, he usually heads up the back yard to the aviary where his little budgie family is. Late yesterday afternoon while I was glued to this computer, he came in and stood next to me without saying anything. I heard a tiny 'cheep', and turned around to see this

One of a pair, just a few weeks old! They look like they are going to be duplicates of their parents - the classic green and yellow colours.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another write up in another local paper.

Fairfax also has a community newspaper in our area (Heidelberg & Diamond Valley Weekly). Unfortunately I can't find a link to it, and I don't want to photocopy the article and reproduce it here, so I'll settle for retyping the last two paragraphs of the article:

The council will not divulge the amount of the new contract, but Nillumbik has budgeted to spend $770,000 less on health care this year than it did last year. Negotiations between Nillumbik and AHCS over carer conditions are continuing ahead of the contract's October 1 start date.
Mayor Warwick Leeson said the quality of care would "in no way be diminished". General Manager of AHCS community care Jim Burns said the organisation would try to match current employment conditions

What a farce. How can the quality of care NOT be diminished with a cut of three quarters of a million dollars? Jim Burns is between a rock and a hard place. AHCS have won this contract because they gave the lowest tender. Now they have to work out how to pay us and at the same time provide the same amount of care to the clients that they have had before. AHCS don't have to foot the bill but it has been very difficult for them. Something which should have been a relatively painless changeover has turned into a nightmare for all concerned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Page 3 of today's local paper.

Well, there it is. I've been in this paper before, but never in full colour! Not a bad photo for a change. The SCCV carers who were at today's staff meeting were impressed! "Good on you!" they all said. Ken told his boss what I'd done, and his boss said "I would have sacked her for breach of contract". I said to Ken "If that's the way he feels about his staff, I'm glad I don't work there. If his staff would meekly consent to having their wages cut without having hissy fits, more fool them".
Granny asked about a link to the paper, and I've just figured out how to do it! CLick here to go to the article.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday lunch with Ken's cousin.

Today we enjoyed a perfectly delightful afternoon with one of Ken's cousins at their home. We were invited for lunch, and as D's wife Y. is Malaysian/Indian, they cook a lot of traditional food from her home country of India, so we had a delicious and very filling meal! They live in a 100 year old terrace house in an inner Melbourne suburb which they have renovated beautifully, and filled with mostly antique and Asian furniture.
Ken on left with his cousins outside their house.
I couldn't resist photographing this gorgeous handpainted lampshade, which D. bought in an antique shop in South Australia.
Ken sitting by a magnificent carved screen which we thought may have been teak, but it isn't. They did tell us which wood it is, but now I can't remember!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Girls night out, and a new addition to our family.

I'll do the new family addition first, otherwise those who know how old I am might be wondering!! Ken has a pair of budgies in his aviaries at the moment, and they have just hatched their first babies. Ken brought one of them inside to show me:

I'll probably have an update next week; Ken likes to check on his baby birds every few days.

On Friday night, Helen and I joined two friends for dinner at J's house. The four of us have known each other for about 28 years; we met when we were part of the newly formed Neighbourhood Watch committee for this area. J. and S. have since moved a bit further away, but Helen and I still live only a couple of streets from each other. Once or twice a year, we all go out for a meal somewhere and catch up with each other's news. J. is a gourmet cook, so when she suggested we come to her place to eat, we agreed immediately! She'd decided to have a 'duck' theme to the meal, so we started off with two entrees of duck (one of them the famed Peking Duck), followed by a main course of duck (roasted, I think) on a bed of mashed potato and asparagus spears, with a delicious sauce over it.

The dessert was obviously not duck (well, I couldn't imagine a sweet made from meat!). J. had made Creme Brulee, and announced that before she served it up, she had to take it out into the back garden and finish it with a blow torch. Helen and I looked at each other and said "who's blog - yours or mine?!" We helped J. carry the four bowls out into the garden and put them on a table. J. produced a small blow torch, lit the flame, and proceeded to melt the sugar on top of each dessert - worked beautifully! According to J. this is the way the pro. chefs do it. I've never made Creme Brulee, but when I've read the recipe in any of my books, it says to put the dessert under a griller for a few minutes - nothing about a blow torch! Just wish I'd had the camera though..

Friday, September 14, 2007

More of my Aussie native plants.

I get annoyed with people who say that Australian native plants are not colourful, so they won't plant them in their gardens. Our plants are just as lovely as any others, and are particularly suited to our dry environment, as well as providing food for native birds, animals and insects. Some of you reading this might remember that when we landscaped our back yard last year, I insisted on having as much indigenous flora as possible, and most of it was tube stock (just past the seedling stage). Here are some of the shrubs which are coming into flower for the first time (and my camera doesn't do them justice by any means!)

Indigofera Australis (Austral Indigo)

Pultenaea Gunni (Golden Bush Pea)

Pultenaea Daphnoides (Bush pea)

Things that go bang when you least expect it!

Thursday is one of my two days off during the working week, and I usually shop in the morning, and catch up on housework afterwards. Yesterday, I had almost finished vaccumming the house right through (one room to go) when the vac cleaner died in spectacular fashion. It had been making some peculiar humming noises, so I'd checked the bag to make sure it wasn't full, replaced the filter, and turned it back on. It roared at me and belched smoke in the manner of a steam train, so I turned it off at the power point immediately! Whoooo!!! No use even looking any further - it was obvious that the motor had finally carked it. I guess after 20+ years, I'd had a good run, so I took it to Godfrey's in Greensborough and got $100 trade-in for a new one. It's all a gimmick of course - I still had to pay $300, but my new one is a nifty little blue and silver job, nice and light to handle.

When I'd done that and had the new cleaner in the back of my car, I went to visit one of my Do Care friends, who lives close by. She wanted to go to Greensborough to do some messages, so we drove back and I accompanied her to the bank, post office, supermarket etc. At some stage, she put her walking stick down and didn't remember it until we'd come out of the checkout. She can walk without it, but of course, if someone has one, it is because they do need it for support. We searched everywhere, but when we couldn't find it, we left her details with the Lost Property office in the centre. Today, she phoned to let me know her stick had been handed in, and someone had kindly brought it to her home! Isn't that nice! (Saved me another trip, too!)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Latest developments in my job saga!

Today I went for an interview with my prospective new employers. I think it went well, as they indicated that I would be retaining my present client base, and adding some new clients to it to make up for any I lose if I leave Southern Cross. I will be paid the same wage as I'm on now, and I'll be employed on a casual basis, which is what I prefer. The travel allowance is still not confirmed, I was told, which is disappointing after hearing yesterday from the manager that it was going to be paid. But apparently he was 'jumping the gun' and hoping the Council would agree to it, but it seems they are making things difficult. Well, they can whistle Dixie - I believe we have the law on our side, and they have to continue paying us our current benefits. We'll see...

Earlier in the afternoon, I had dropped into the Southern Cross office to collect my new roster for the coming fortnight, and the manager happened to be there. He caught sight of me and beckoned me into his office, closing the door behind me. He proceeded to remind me that when I started work with SCC I had signed an agreement which included a clause which states employees are not allowed to discuss any aspect of their work with the media. (OOPS!) He had obviously heard on the grapevine what I have been up to, so I said "Well, what happens now - are you sacking me?" He said " thought I should warn you". I replied "Jon, I'm nearly 60. You told me last week there won't be any work for me at SCC after this month anyway, so I've got nothing to lose by going to the press about this issue. Somebody has to stand up for the workers, otherwise they'll just get walked over". He wasn't expecting a reaction like that - he didn't know what to say!!

I mentioned this episode to the AHCS staff, and asked if they had a similar clause in their workplace agreement. They weren't sure, but they thought it might. I said jokingly "Well, as you can see, I'll fight for what I believe in, so just don't cross me!" Their eyes popped, and then they laughed when I started chuckling, but I think they got the message. One of the best things about working when you get to this age, you don't have to take the crap! You just don't care about it any more, and it really puts people back in their box when you call their bluff!


LeeAnn and Helen, if you're reading this, pop over to my blog for Andre's Australian fans and read all about it!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We still remember.

Ken was unconscious on that day, but the event is as real and awful for him now as it is for everyone else who was aware of it unfolding at the time. Some Australian t.v. 'comedians' think it is a good basis for humour now. I hope they will lose loved ones in a terrorist attack at some time in the future. Then they'll see how funny it is.

Some good news for a change.

The reporter and photographer came out this morning and took pictures of me with one of my home care clients, who was very happy to oblige. The reporter said it will probably be in next week's Diamond Valley Leader, and possibly on the front page, because the topic of workplace relations is hot news right now, with an election looming.

While I was there, I had a phone call on my mobile, from the CEO of Aust. Home Care Services. He said he wanted to talk to me about my letter (which he would have seen at the Shire council offices), and I mentally prepared myself to be verbally ripped into! But no. He said he was at the Council office trying to negotiate terms and conditions for the Southern Cross Carers, and wanted to confirm with me details of our existing pay structure. So I filled him in with that and he thanked me and rang off. Later in the day, he rang again to ask something else, and I asked him about the carers having a choice of being casual or perm. part-time. He said yes, they will also agree to that. Well, I thought we're on a roll here, so I politely mentioned a few other issues, and he said "we've arranged with the Council that you (meaning all the carers, not just me!) will have your existing terms re-instated, and a new workplace agreement will be drawn up". I didn't tell him that I'd spoken to the paper, but I did ring the reporter immediately to inform him. He was pleased that I let him know, and said they will probably still run the story, but will modify it to include this latest development.

Tonight I phoned some of the other carers whom I know well, and they were delighted to hear the news, as they were still trying to decide whether or not to apply to work for AHCS. One of them told me that AHCS had put on another information session for SCC carers on Monday, and only four carers turned up! No wonder they are desperate. I feel sorry for AHCS though - the blame lies fairly and squarely with the Nillumbik Shire Council. They have obviously led AHCS up the proverbial garden path, letting them assume we would all be willing to work for less! Well, they didn't reckon on me, did they!! Watch this space for the next instalment..

Cats and couches.

Isabelle over in Scotland has been posting more cute photos of her two black kittens, and her blog is always full of amusing anecdotes about their mischief. She mentions that they have been clawing various parts of the house, but haven't started on the sofas yet. Well Isabelle, if they do, this is what you can expect to see:

Nice couch. Cost $2000 about 5 years ago.

Same couch. Topsy was about a year old when she did this and yes, she was smacked - hard.

First Aid, and an interview with our paper!

Val is wondering why I said in my previous post that we should not include bandaids and antiseptic in first aid kits. I should have been more specific! Those items are of course necessary in any home medicine cabinet, but for a First Aid Volunteer, we are looking at dealing with incidents outside the home in the wider community. Some of the items I need to stock up on for mine are PVC gloves, face masks (when giving mouth to mouth resuscitation),triangular bandages (to use as a sling), cotton bandage, pressure bandages (for fractures), gauze, adhesive plastic tape, scissors (to cut clothing away from burns etc) and a water container (to cool burns, flush eyes, etc.)

A reporter from our local paper phoned me this morning. He has received a few letters and phone calls from both carers and home care clients, and wanted to know if I would consent to having my photo taken with one of my clients. I knew immediately who to ask, and she was agreeable to be photographed with me, so it is taking place on Tuesday morning, after I've finished my work for her at her home.
On Wednesday, I am going for a job interview with Aust. Home Care Services, who have won the contract from my present employer, so that will be interesting...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Weekend of learning.

I spent all day Saturday and Sunday with seven other people, being taught First Aid Level 2 at the training Headquarters of Ambulance Victoria. (This was actually a refresher course for me; I'd done it six years ago, but it is necessary to have more training a few years down the track, as you do forget after a while). That means, apart from the basic emergency life saving procedures, we now know how to identify and manage a number of life threatening situations. We can administer C.P.A., stop severe bleeding, apply splints and slings to broken bones, and we know what to do when somebody is having a stroke, heart attack, seizure, or is choking, or has been burnt, poisoned (many variations there) or has something embedded in their eye. We learnt what should be in a first aid kit - throw out the bandaids and antiseptics for a start!

There was an astonishing amount to take in, and the above was only a fraction of it, but our instructor was very patient, going over everything until he was sure we understood the procedures. Everyone had tales to tell about themselves and their families - all the events we have experienced where First Aid knowledge would have come in very handy. Here I am, carrying out CPA on one of the dummies which is provided for the purpose of practice. You can practise putting slings and splints on another person, but not CPA!

I came away with renewed respect for doctors, nurses and ambulance personnel, who all go through years of training and upgrades - not just one weekend! So while I realise my skills are very limited in comparison, at least I'll know what to do while waiting for an ambulance in the event of any of my clients being ill or falling, or if I'm first on the scene at a car accident, or (and may God forbid) I might be of help if we ever experience a terrorist attack here. Our group discussed briefly what might happen in that scenario, and we agreed that the more people who learn First Aid, the better it is for the community as a whole.
Here is our instructor handing out some bandages to some of the students (the others were elsewhere in the room when I took this).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bit of a giggle.

With all the doom and gloom on this blog, I decided to post something amusing for a change. Ken bought this card for a fellow motorcyclist whose birthday is today. I had to keep a copy of it!

Update on my work situation.

My interview with J. (SCC staff manager) turned out to be much as I thought it would. As I am employed on a casual basis, I am at the bottom of the pile when it comes to allocating clients from what is left in this area after the Council clients are taken out of the system. The employees who are permanent part time will be given first preference by the roster clerks. This is not unexpected; probably about 60% of the carers are on casual rates because the pay is so much higher, and we are happy to go with unpaid sick leave and unpaid annual leave. So I'm not alone in that I won't be allocated any work for a while if I choose to stay with Southern Cross.

J. was very apologetic about that, but I assured him I had no problem with it, as SCC have always been very honest with the carers about who gets the new jobs first. He said he is encouraging the carers to stay 'on the books' with SCC, as more clients are always coming into the system, and eventually we would all make up our guaranteed hours again, although the jobs probably would not be as close to home. But as SCC pay a travel allowance, driving between clients is not such a big issue.

Today, I spent some time with Lindsay - a new blogging friend who Val introduced to me a few weeks ago. He lives only a couple of streets away, and has recently retired from a very active business career in which he had a lot to do with workplace industrial relations, so he was willing to share his expertise with me. I showed him a letter I had drafted to go to our local paper, and he thought it was good, so I emailed it to the paper later on. He made several phone calls to Southern Cross management, Nillumbik Council offices, local councillors, members of Parliament, etc. and generally made an impact with them! The MPs' staffers were very interested indeed, as Industrial Relations law is a hot topic in Australia at the moment, so my letter could have far reaching effects!

It appears our Council is in chaos since the news about the change in service providers was released. Clients and their families, carers and other concerned residents are writing, emailing and phoning the Council to denounce them. Council are apparently meeting the new Provider on Friday to see if they can sort something out. Whether this means they will agree to meet the carers' existing employment terms and conditions is debatable. I doubt it somehow, but Lindsay informs me that what the Council have done is highly unethical and possibly illegal, in that it has downgraded our wages etc. if we move to their employ, even though we would be doing exactly the same work.

I just want to be able to look after my existing clients. They are distraught at the thought of losing me as their carer, and I am quite depressed about the whole situation at the moment.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Babies in nests - Spring has sprung in Melbourne!

Here are some of our plants which are flowering for the first time in their short lives - they were only planted last year.
This ground cover/creeper is growing at an alarming rate; it will trip me up one day, I'm sure!
But it is such a gorgeous shade of purple, I have no intention of ripping it out.
We have several varieties of Grevillea shrubs in the garden, and I'd labelled them all, but the label for this one has disappeared, so I don't know which one it, Helen!
This is the stunning 'Robyn Gordon' grevillea. Small now, but it eventually grows into a large shrub which flowers nearly all year round, attracting birds.
This is the flower of the Golden Wattle - Australia's national floral emblem. When we were choosing plants last year, I insisted on having at least one of these trees, and this one is doing well - from a 6" high baby, it is now about 9' and still growing.

The Doves who have been nesting under the eaves outside our bedroom hatched their eggs only a few weeks ago, and these two baby birds are almost as big as their parents now!

Saturday Night at the Wilsons!

It could have been a miserable weekend, if I'd spent the time worrying about work. But thanks to a very special pair of visitors on Saturday night, I was immensely cheered up. Ken wanted to christen his barbecue properly, and didn't want any visitors in case he stuffed up. (Don't know how you can stuff up a barbecue, but that's my Ken). On Wednesday night LeeAnn phoned to see if we were going to be home on Saturday and I told her yes, Ken is planning to cook tea on the barbie, but didn't want anyone to watch. She said immediately "But we want to be there!" and when I told Ken he said "well....okay then". LeeAnn and Rob arrived about 5.30 pm and we already had the meat cooking (marinated lamb, chicken kebabs and of course, good old sausages), the salad tossed, and drinks in the fridge. Ken was disappointed that he didn't have an apron, so I got him one of mine.

I don't know if his face is red from the heat of the bbq, or embarrassment at being photographed in one of my embroidered aprons! We sat outside on the patio to eat, but it was starting to get cold, so we had dessert inside. LeeAnn had brought some delicious cakes from Kyneton, along with strawberries and cream - great way to finish off dinner! Not only did she bring dessert, she also brought a heap of goodies for me - a birthday present she'd been sitting on since my birthday in April! In the parcel were these lovely gifts:

A tiny, very old doll, with handmade clothes, including a cross stitched top, which is why LeeAnn thought of me when she saw it.
Another very old item - handpainted doiley cover. I love these - my mum had one which I still have, but it is not in as good condition as this.
This book is absolutely delightful! I spent much of Sunday browsing through it, and I know I'll be spending many more hours reading it, as there is so much to take in. Not only did she bring these gifts, she also brought a HUGE bundle of old linens and embroidery books and charts that she has been finding at opshops for the past year! If you want to see more of those, you will have to visit my other blog - sorry! I'm not going to duplicate pictures on my blogs!

Around 8 pm, we'd finished dinner, I'd had a quick look at all my goodies, so we sat down to enjoy some movies and music. The four of us enjoy the same kind of music, which is really great. We sat through an old rock'n'roll movie ("The Girl Can't Help It"), a DVD of Charlie Chaplin, one episode of Hogan's Heroes, a couple of Andre Rieu DVDs, a bit of Glen Campbell, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.
Here they are, eyes glued to Andre's orchestra.

Here is LeeAnn at 2.30 am, warming herself in front of the gas fire while enjoying Glen Campbell.

It was great fun, wasn't it, guys! Thank you both for making it so!!

More about my work.

This situation is going to blow up for a lot of people. The Nillumbik Shire Council are in for many angry letters, from clients and their families, as well as carers, some of whom will be either out of a job, or forced to take on a position at a greatly reduced wage. The local paper and probably other media will also be getting outraged letters. Not that this will do any good now, mind you. The damage is done. We (the care givers) have been informed by Southern Cross Care (SCC) that they would like to retain us in their employ, but cannot guarantee the same amount of working hours that we presently have. As I said earlier, we do have a choice - stay with them, move over to the new service provider Aust. Home Care Services (AHCS), or hold positions with both companies, so we can continue to service our existing client base.

AHCS held an information session on Friday. I was surprised to see only 20 or so carers attend - there are nearly 100 of us that are going to be affected, and I am amazed that more of them didn't feel the need to find out more about their prospective new employer. I am aware that some of them had work or other commitments at that time, but still, less than half of the employees is a pretty poor show, and I think the AHCS staff thought so too. It was a very informative session. Those of us present went away feeling shell-shocked. Here are some of the changes we are faced with:

*SCC pays travel allowance of 70c per kl. between clients, and client related exps.
AHCS pay 65c per kl. for c.r. exps. only.

*SCC pay overtime rates for out of hours and weekend work.
AHCS don’t, except for public holidays.

*SCC pay same rate for Personal Care and Home Care jobs.
AHCS pay less for H.C. than P.C.

*SCC employ carers on casual or permanent part time basis depending on carer preference.
AHCS don’t(would prefer not to) – employ carers on casual basis.

*SCC allows flexible working hours.
AHCS provide minimum 10 hours per week.

*SCC pays for compulsory employee Police Check.
AHCS deduct the cost ($29) from the carer’s wage.

*SCC requires all carers to have First Aid training and updates regularly.
AHCS don’t. To quote the manager: “Our carers aren’t medicos. If your client is ill, call an ambulance”…
(so, while waiting for the ambulance, let the client bleed to death/choke to death/die of cardiac arrest or stroke, right?)

All the carers are affected in some way financially. For me, travel allowance is about a quarter of my fortnightly wage; for some of the other girls who travel longer distances, it could amount to hundreds of dollars less in their pay.
Some carers work mostly weekends and nights, in order to make a living as sole parents, university students, etc. because the pay is so much higher. Not if they have to change to the new provider. The difference in out of hours work is almost double the day rate of pay, so their pay would be halved.

SCC want to interview each carer on a one to one basis to discuss their options, and my appointment is on Wednesday. I also want to see AHCS to discuss my options with them, but that won't be for a week or so. I'll keep you posted.

adopt your own virtual pet!