There have been a number of stories in recent days concerning workplace bullying, harassment and complaints handling mechanisms in various Victorian public hospitals.
These stories have raised concerns that there may be possible system-wide issues relating to staff being able to make complaints about other staff, particularly those in more senior roles.
Bullying and harassment in Victoria’s hospitals – or in any workplace – is simply unacceptable.
I am very concerned by reports that incidents of bullying or harassment may be unreported for fear of reprisal.
Everyone is entitled to perform their jobs in a safe and professional environment, and it is vital that staff feel supported to make complaints about more senior staff.
This is particularly important in a health setting where patient care is paramount.
It is vital that hospitals have robust complaints processes in place to ensure concerns are addressed in a confidential, accountable and professional manner.
The Victorian Auditor-General is currently conducting an audit into occupational violence.
I will write to the Victorian Auditor-General requesting that he look at these and associated issues in the course of this audit if appropriate, or separately, including the nature and extent of bullying and harassment and other workplace related complaints within Victoria’s public hospitals, and the strengths and weakness of current complaints mechanisms.
I will also request that the Auditor-General identify examples of best practice that can be shared, and that he recommend what improvements can be made across our health services.
I want to ensure that Victoria’s health system has the best policies and procedures in place to support the kind of culture Victorians expect of a modern health system in our state.