ANMF (Vic Branch) recently assisted members who raised concerns around the installation and use of video recording equipment in a client’s treatment area by a family member of the client.
Understandably, our members were concerned about their entitlement to privacy, the ability to provide safe and effective care to the client and the potential for retribution from the family member who was reviewing the recordings.
This contributed to members experiencing and reporting psychosocial hazards such as anxiety, stress and harassment. There were also concerns related to whether recordings were being shared to, or accessible by, a third-party such as the media or streamed online.
‘As a result of this matter and the Branch’s assistance, two members have since nominated as HSRs and one member has nominated for the Job Rep role. This is a great outcome for all employees.’
Members completed incident reports and raised their concerns with management on numerous occasions, but unfortunately were not seeing any results so they contacted the Branch for advice and representation.
When speaking with the employer, they had in fact been doing a lot of work in the background to resolve the matter, including seeking legal advice on the best approach to resolve it, given there are a number of laws, policies and codes involved – such as the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (Vic).
In the context of this matter, the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (Vic) provides that a recording device must not be installed without the express or implied consent of each person party to the activity being recorded.
Other policies and procedures that may come into play here include codes of conduct for staff, patients and visitors, admission agreements and policies, aged care and disability acts and privacy acts, and workplace health and safety items that relate to the identification, resolution, management and control of psychosocial hazards.
By working with the employer, our members (supported by the ANMF) were able to achieve the desired outcome of having the recording equipment disabled, which reduced the psychosocial risks members were experiencing and enabling them to continue providing care in a safe space whilst maintaining privacy and dignity for the client.
Incident results in nomination of new HSRs and Job Reps
This incident, and subsequent consultation with members, highlighted the absence of an elected Health and Safety Representative (HSR) or a Job Representative to work with ANMF and represent the interests of the employees in that area.
As a result of this matter and the Branch’s assistance, two members have since nominated as HSRs and one member has nominated for the Job Rep role. This is a great outcome for all employees, which will enhance workers’ safety in the area and help ANMF identify concerns that have the potential to impact members.
Similar incidents that relate to surveillance equipment in healthcare are not uncommon, with members often being caught in the middle of a patient or family member recording conversations with nursing staff, filming the care provided or even staff recording meetings or conversations with management.
It’s important to be aware of when or how these scenarios present and that you can contact ANMF if you believe your employer is not implementing controls or taking related concerns seriously.
Some key learnings
- Audio and/or visual recording devices can legally be used, as long as all parties consent to doing so. Generally it is unlawful to record someone without their knowledge or consent.
- Engaging with your HSR for advice can be helpful and is crucial for escalating unresolved safety concerns and demanding action within the workplace to prevent harm. If your workplace does not currently have an HSR, contact ANMF to find out how to get this happening. If you are already an HSR, let us know.
- Consider nominating as an ANMF Job Rep to work with ANMF and be an advocate for change for your colleagues.
- Continuous incident reporting and raising concerns in writing to management creates a critical ‘paper trail’ of evidence that the concerns have been raised repeatedly with inadequate or no outcome.