Throughout October as part of National Safe Work Month, the Branch’s OHS team were on the road visiting multiple sites for a series of in-person HSR Update events.
These informal events provided an opportunity for ANMF to update health and safety reps with the latest information and changes in the OHS space. They were also a good networking opportunity for HSRs and members interested in becoming HSRs, allowing them to meet their organisers and OHS team, and connect with fellow HSRs.
The team visited Mildura, Ballarat, Geelong, Horsham, Warrnambool and Shepparton, and also ran an event in Melbourne. Across the month, the sessions attracted HSRs from a wide range of work areas, and with a wide range of experience in the role – some brand new, others with many years of knowledge.
Topics discussed included:
- Tips for raising and resolving OHS issues, using the resources available through HSR and Job Rep meetings, workplace implementation committees, and OVA and OHS committees.
- The OHS data from the annual reports of attendees’ health services, compared to the data from the Monash University research on health, safety and violence in the healthcare sector.
- Workplace bullying, inappropriate behaviours and members’ rights.
- Q&As on workplace facilities, manual handling, alternatives to seclusion and restraint and more.
Changing bad culture
The sessions were interactive, with attendees invited to offer their feedback in a number of areas. Pleasingly, in response to the question ‘what do you enjoy about the HSR role?’ there were plenty of answers, including:
- supporting staff
- changing bad culture
- we can make a difference
- learning new skills
- encouraging safety
- holding management to account.
General member feedback on the events has been positive, with common themes emerging around appreciating the opportunity to network with other HSRs and ANMF staff in a relaxed, small-group setting. Some specific comments include:
- ‘Being a new HSR it was good to hear from other HSRs and their experiences.’
- ‘Most valuable of all was being able to speak about the frustrations and concerns I have in my workplace.’
- ‘I enjoyed meeting with others and hearing about their workplace issues and what they have done.’
- ‘It was good to learn that I’m not alone with the issues we face at our hospital.’
- ‘I liked meeting everyone and the wealth of knowledge from the staff.’
- ‘The small group meant we were able to finish the discussions on time and made it feel like a safer space to share.’
- ‘Thank you for travelling out to the country. I regularly travel to Melbourne and it takes me over 3 and a half hours.’
The HSR Update events have been conceived and offered in response to feedback from HSRs asking for the opportunity to network more broadly with other HSRs from other workplaces. As the inaugural in-person events proved successful, the Branch will be looking to re-run them again in 2024.