Last year’s Victorian Public Sector Commission People Matter Survey gave us the opportunity to ask BRHS staff what we could do to improve their everyday experience in the workplace.
We’re pleased to say we listened to staff feedback, and responded with a number of new initiatives and improvements.
One of the things we were eager to improve was our support for staff that were dealing with bullying, harassment, and to make staff feel comfortable with the process for addressing any grievances they have.
This month we are proud to unveil our first cohort of BRHS Contact Officers, the role of which is to be the first point of contact for anyone in the organisation who has an enquiry or possible complaint about bullying harassment or discrimination.
“Sometimes just giving people the opportunity to talk something through often helps them begin to see the right next steps for them.”
The primary role of the contact officer is to help an employee to resolve an issue for themselves, not to investigate complaints or resolve problems.
If that fails to manage the situation, the contact officer can assist the employee to explore other options, which may include formalizing the complaint.
It is the role of a contact officer to promote their role actively, to ensure that all staff members know the opportunity exists to discuss issues of concern in a confidential manner.
Tammylee Chatwin is a nurse on Tambo Ward, and one of nine Contact Officers across the organisation.
Tammylee says that the simple action of talking freely about a problem or issue can in itself be part of the resolution process.
“In my experience, sometimes just giving people the opportunity to talk something through often helps them begin to see the right next steps for them,” she says. “People can be hesitant to make a formal complaint about something, particularly if they are not quite sure about the process or what their other options are. Sometimes a simple chat can really help.”
Tammylee says it is important for staff to remember that a Contact Officer cannot investigate an issue, or act as an advocate in resolving a conflict.
“As a Contact Officer my role is to help staff understand what options they have and what resources are available to them, and to provide them with guidance and coaching on how they might be able to resolve a particular issue,” she says.
Fellow Contact Officer Helen Wilson, BRHS’ Safety Officer, echoes Tammylee’s description of the Contact Officer role as a guide rather than an advocate or investigator.
“I think what’s great about these new Contact Officer positions is they will make it more comfortable, and less threatening, for staff to have that initial conversation about an issue,” she says. “The aim of the role is not to solve every problem, but to give people the tools to find their own solutions. I’ve seen how people can flourish when they are informed and empowered to take their own next steps.”
The Contact Officer can:
- Provide information on BRHS Grievance resolution
- Provide information on what is and is not bullying, harassment and discrimination.
- Provide coaching on holding a 1:1 conversation with another employee to resolve conflict or address inappropriate behavior
- Provide referrals to support services.
- Act as a support person for a person lodging a formal complaint.
The Contact Officer is not:
- An investigator
- A decision maker
- A counselor or mediator
- An advocate or representative for someone with a concern.
- Able to approach another employee or management on behalf of the person with the concern.
A Contact Officer has an obligation under Occupational Health and Safety Legislation to report any matters where there is a risk to the health and safety of another employee.
If the information being disclosed to the Contact Officer indicates that there is a risk to the health and safety of an individual or a group, the matter cannot be confidential and will immediately be escalated to People and Culture.
Contact Officers @ BRHS
- Aasta Holmes (EA to the CEO) – firstname.lastname@example.org or BRHS Ext. 66414
- Jan Gallagher (EA to Director of Clinical Operations) email@example.com or BRHS Ext. 66699
- Helen Wilson (Safety Officer) firstname.lastname@example.org or BRHS Ext. 66640
- Peter Stevens (Medical Imaging) email@example.com or BRHS Ext. 66470
- Kathy McCullagh – (Flanagan Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org or BRHS Ext. 66454
- Tammylee Chatwin– (Tambo Ward) email@example.com or BRHS Ext. 66440
- Carla Marques – (Maddocks Gardens) firstname.lastname@example.org or BRHS Ext. 66659
- Belinda Rowe – (Rotamah Ward) email@example.com or BRHS Ext. 66285
- Sasha Blanch – (Dental and Health Independence Program) firstname.lastname@example.org or BRHS Ext. 20278
For more information about Contact Officers, contact any of the staff members listed here, or People and Culture General Manager Pam Porter at email@example.com.