The Andrews Labor Government will establish a new trial of independent facilitators, a first for Victorian hospitals, to give staff power to speak up against inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment, and to access the support they need.
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today is announcing $400,000 in funding to take action to prevent, respond to and better manage sexual harassment within Victoria’s health services, following an independent investigation by Charles Scerri QC.
Sexual harassment in Victorian public hospitals, or in any workplace, is not just unacceptable – it’s illegal. These new actions will help provide safe and confidential support to people who wish to make a complaint.
Significant work has been underway to build stronger awareness, improve leadership and accountability, deliver new workforce training and improve processes for reporting and responding to these incidents.
The cornerstone of these initiatives will be the roll out of a trial of two new independent facilitators who will provide a confidential and independent avenue for staff to speak up and raise concerns, without fear of reprisal, if staff don’t want to use their workplace complaints processes.
The facilitators will be able to help staff navigate what can be a challenging and complex pathway to seeking a solution for a complaint while also providing information and support.
We will also deliver a targeted education campaign for the healthcare sector to raise awareness of inappropriate behaviours and responses.
This initiative further delivers on the Bullying and Harassment in Healthcare Advisory Group’s recommendations to reduce bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, in their report.
The Scerri investigation started in January this year to consider allegations made against the former Melbourne Health Board Chair.
Mr Scerri said he has no reason to doubt the veracity of the allegations made by the complainant, but while the former Chair has been unable to participate in the investigation due to ill health, Mr Scerri is not able to reach, and has not reached, any conclusions about the allegations.
Mr Scerri also considered whether Melbourne Health responded to the complaint appropriately, and recommended further improvements to strengthen health service complaints handling processes, particularly when involving members of management, and education of staff about these processes.
The executive summary of Mr Scerri’s report and further recommendations can be found here: .
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Everyone deserves to work in a safe and professional environment. We are taking further action to ensure our hospitals are safe, respectful and healthy places for all.”
“These independent facilitators will give staff confidence to stand up and speak up against unacceptable behaviours without fear of reprisal.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020