Jul 28, 2021

Aged care staff and residents allegedly pressured to sign petition in support of CEO


Somerset’s Yaraandoo Hostel, run by Southern Cross Care (Tas), was singled out as one of two Tasmanian aged care facilities that had placed “budgetary outcomes” ahead of resident wellbeing, during a Royal Commission inquiry in September of last year.

While Yaraandoo was accredited by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in May 2021, recent allegations of dire staffing shortages by a resident at the home resulted in growing calls for Southern Cross Care (Tas) CEO, Robyn Boyd, to resign.

In response to the mounting pressure, a petition was created by Southern Cross Care Tasmania’s executive team and passed on to management, who were allegedly asked to circulate the petition and encourage residents and staff members at Yaraandoo to sign.

We the undersigned wish to express our support for CEO Robyn Boyd, and our wish to retain Robyn Boyd in the position of CEO at Southern Cross Care (Tas) Inc,” the petition stated.

“We also got word a lot of residents and staff had refused to sign it and management had been uncomfortable to circulate it,” he told The Mercury

“We’ve had a number of emails from members and residents’ families as well. One in particular, was horrified at the circumstances.”

In a recent media statement, Chair of the Board of Southern Cross Care Tasmania, Stephen Shirley, threw his support behind embattled CEO Robyn Boyd and alluded to the allegations against Ms Boyd as being dirty tactics as part of EBA negotiations with HACSU.

“I became aware of staff circulating a petition in support of our CEO, Robyn Boyd, following calls from HACSU that she should resign.”

“However, while I agree with the sentiments of the petition, it is not helpful while we are in the middle of a negotiation for a new EBA with the union. For that reason, I asked the staff members organising the petition to take it down, which occurred Friday. Contrary to recent claims, Yaraandoo has more staff than required,” he stated.

“Responding to every claim made by the union gets us no closer to signing a good deal for our employees, so we will not negotiate through the media.”

It has been revealed that Yaraandoo received an unannounced visit by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission last week.

Mr Shirley said that Southern Cross Care (Tas) welcomed the visit and he is confident that the high quality of care at Yaraandoo will be demonstrated. 

Support or pressure? 

While Mr Shirley claims that Yaraandoo Hostel currently has “more staff than required,” current Yaraandoo resident Brian Halpin – who has lived at the home for six years – alleges that this is not the case, and has decided to speak out to protect residents.

“I’ve got my marbles, but 60% of residents do not, so I am doing this for them,” he told The Mercury.

Mr Halpin said that he felt compelled to speak up because he feels that there is no other option. He also said that staff were doing a fantastic job under the current circumstances, but were often left in tears because they were unable to provide the level of care that they would like.

Unfortunately, this is not the first report of frustration amongst staff working at homes being run by Southern Cross Care (Tas).

Earlier this year, HelloCare received correspondence from a Southern Cross Care (Tas) staff member who had lodged a complaint to Worksafe. The complaint accused Ms Boyd of constant bullying behaviour that had rendered the majority of staff fearful of speaking up.

This Worksafe submission also alleged that Ms Boyd only cares about gaining accreditation, claiming that she has been in the home herself for the purpose of “covering up” incidents of poor care and being “aggressive towards the care staff members and managers of the facility”. 

However, Ms Boyd still has her fair share of supporters. 

Aged care lobby group, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) recently appointed Ms Boyd to LASA’s Victoria/Tasmania Members’ Advisory Committee. LASA CEO, Sean Rooney, recently praised Ms Boyd for her efforts at Southern Cross Care Tasmania.

“Southern Cross Care Tasmania Inc is not presently subject to any sanctions,” said Mr Rooney. 

“Robyn is to be commended for her leadership role in bringing drive and focus to improving quality. Under Robyn’s leadership, the team at Southern Cross Care (Tas) have worked hard to improve services and restore their full accreditation.”

He added, “Robyn’s sector expertise and experience makes a valuable contribution to the work of our VIC/TAS MAC (Member Advisory Committee).”

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  1. I worked at another aged care facility where Robyn was upper management. None of these allegations surprise me— they’re a pattern that seems to have continued since she moved on from Canberra.


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