The Member Assistance Team is the evolution of the Information Line that preceded it.
While some members preferred the telephone service offered by the Information Line, it also presented significant risks, such as:
- lack of evidence of the actual advice provided (where there may have been a dispute over what advice was given, and in order for us to ensure the quality of advice)
- long wait times
- only operational daytime Monday to Friday
- occupational health and safety risks of vocal fatigue.
A decision was made to offer and promote an email response service. The benefits of that include:
- we have a clear record of the questions and answers
- inquiries can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- inquiries can be identified and escalated according to urgency
- with the introduction of a case management system, we can readily see how many inquiries are outstanding at any given moment.
An email service also enables us to allocate some Member Assistance Team inquires to other ANMF staff, particularly when we have a period of peak demand.
With the onset of the pandemic, our transition to the email-only service became critical, so that our staff could keep responding to member inquiries while working from home.
With the exception of some early problems with members who had @hotmail email addresses, the transition has been well progressed.
Now the Member Assistance Team receives around 1500 inquiries a month, all responded to via email.
Where we identify themes around inquiries, we are able to create resources that we can then provide to members with similar inquiries, along with guides about how to progress things like
underpayments. Examples of these can be found at anmfvic.asn.au/publicfaqs.
The Member Assistance Team receives a wide range of inquiries from members, from commonly asked industrial questions such as pay rates and annual leave, to more complex inquiries relating to the COVID pandemic, long service leave, parental leave, OHS, redeployment, understaffing, professional indemnity insurance, AHPRA notifications and other professional matters.
There is often a peak in Member Assistance Team inquiries following the release of an ANMF newsflash, which helps inform subsequent FAQs on the issue that we can provide to all affected members.
While we currently accept Member Assistance Team inquiries via email@example.com it is not ideal as it delays our response time compared to using the online form, which automatically
records the inquiry into our case management system.
Inquiries via email also run the risk of not identifying the correct member making the inquiry. It is likely that the @records approach will eventually be transitioned out, in favour of the online form.