Ballarat Health Services could face state government penalties over its poor bullying record.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Jill Hennessy said every health service signs a “statement of priorities” agreement, which has included strict bullying and harassment clauses since 2015.
“Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of the ‘statement of priorities’ agreement can result in a range of penalties from censure through to closure of a health service,” the spokesperson said.
She also said a squad of independent anti-bullying specialists would be deployed to health services where bullying and harassment has been identified.
“The government has zero tolerance for bullying and harassment in our health system.”
The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) also said it wanted an external bullying accountability source.
HACSU state organiser Michael Stone said two independent consultant reports released on Thursday vindicated the serious concerns of their BHS members first raised in The Courier last October.
He said HACSU was getting legal advice about launching a class action but also wanted external scrutiny on the service into the future.
“It’s still all in-house.
“We want the state government to step in and make a real commitment to the health and safety of the workers.
“We want them to legislate and require the health sector to be accountable (for bullying) with targets linked to funding.”
Mr Stone said there was still room for improvement in the recommendations BHS will adopt to prevent further bullying, including a people and culture board sub-committee, a board and executive capability audit, an organisational structure review, a new complaints manager, improved workplace behaviour training and a protected disclosure process.
“We want a thorough complaints system, with a further appeals stage. We want somewhere else for people to go, such as the Fair Work Commission federally.
“We want the state government to take bullying as seriously as it does other workplace practices.”
Mr Stone said bullying and harassment was an issue statewide, as evidenced by a recent auditor-general’s report.
“Almost all the health sector has been left wanting. There has to be a bit more.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.