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Policies and Procedures

Media protocol

  • 1. Procedure Statement

    It is the policy of The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) to respond to appropriate and reasonable media questions/inquiries effectively, accurately and on a timely basis to help promote public understanding of our services, activities and issues. Responsibility for media engagement and strategy rests with the Executive Director Communications and delegated to the Director Communications and Engagement, part of the Corporate Communications team in the Division of Communications. All media inquiries are managed and responded to centrally via this process.

    In order to assist media in their role, as well as support staff who may be contacted by the media, Corporate Communications provides a 365 day on call roster, available through directly contacting the 24/7 Corporate Communications landline of 9345 4220.

    The advisors in Corporate Communications are experienced in managing and assessing the media opportunity, identifying the most relevant spokesperson and ensuring that all necessary approvals and consent requirements are considered in developing a response.

    Corporate Communications manages both reactive and proactive media relations.

    Staff are reminded that all terms of employment state that failure to follow hospital policies and procedures may lead to disciplinary action.

    2. Purpose of procedure

    • Protect the privacy of RCH staff, patients and their families.
    • Secure informed written consent from patients and their families before they are exposed to media.
    • Enable staff and families to be briefed and prepared before speaking to the media.
    • Ensure consistency of all messages. 
    • Protect and enhance the reputation of the hospital.
    • Maintain the professional interaction and ongoing relationships between the hospital and media.
    • Preserve and enhance the relationship between the hospital and the Good Friday Appeal (GFA) media partners, Herald & Weekly Times Ltd and Channel 7, and, where appropriate, provide strategic preferential access to hospital stories to these networks for the designated period from the launch until the conclusion of the appeal annually.
    • Provide timely, accurate and appropriate responses to media inquiries.

    3. Procedure

    Media Inquiries

    • Staff members are not permitted to approach or speak to the media on behalf of the RCH without the approval of the Executive Director Communications or Director Communications and Engagement. This includes conversations described as 'off the record'.
    • All media inquiries must be immediately directed to the Executive Director Communications or Corporate Communications team (including the Director Communications and Engagement). This includes media inquiries or activities relating to the hospital, its services, its research, its patients, its staff or fundraising activities as well as inquiries involving an external group who wish to promote their relationship with the RCH.
    • The Director Communications and Engagement and Corporate Communications team are the liaison between the organisation and the media and are authorised to act as a spokesperson on matters of fact or clarification, or to provide patient condition reports.
    • The Director Communications and Engagement will assess the media inquiry and draft the most appropriate response or action and identify the most appropriate spokesperson. Responses are to be approved by the CEO or delegate (in most circumstances the Executive Director Communications).
    • The Director Communications and Engagement will escalate the media response to the Executive Director Communications, who may in some instances escalate the matter to the CEO and/or Chair upon assessment of the inquiry.
    • RCH on-campus partners including Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, the RCH Foundation and parent and patient support groups wishing to invite media onto hospital managed areas must first gain the consent of RCH Corporate Communications. Media will be escorted by RCH Corporate Communications. 
    • Media must be escorted in the hospital at all times by RCH Corporate Communications.
    • Families who wish to invite media into the hospital when their child is an in-patient must gain the approval of Corporate Communications who will gain approval of the medical or nursing staff caring for the child.  
    • RCH staff who act as spokespersons or provide expert commentary in their role with external organisations must advise Corporate Communications before undertaking any media activity. 
    • The Executive Director, Communications must approve all requests to hold a Media Conference.
    • Filming and photography on hospital grounds by the media or external organisations is not permitted without the prior permission of Corporate Communications.
    • Media are permitted to film on the footpath outside of the hospital grounds. All crew and equipment must remain outside of the hospital for the duration of filming and not block the sidewalk. Exceptions to this are only allowed with approval of the Executive Director Communications, and if approved, with notification to RCH Security and the Hospital Manager (if outside hours).
    • Corporate Communications may at its discretion, and with the endorsement of the Executive Director Communications, levy a fee for the use of the RCH as a venue or backdrop for filming or news gathering. This is called a location fee, and is set at $2000 per access subject to the decision of the Executive Director Communications. In addition to the location fee, an hourly fee of $75 may be levied for an RCH Corporate Communications Officer to accompany film crews on RCH premises. Any other costs incurred as a result of the approved filming request will be borne by the applicant and invoiced through RCH Finance.

    4. Persons Affected

    • All staff.
    • Fundraising groups.
    • External groups.
    • On-campus partners, including MCRI, University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, RCH Foundation.
    • Patients and families.

    5. Definition of terms

    Media: Includes all forms of media, print, broadcast and online.

    External groups: Includes all those outside the hospital who offer or provide any form of support to the hospital, its patients, its staff, its research or its fundraising activities.

    External organisations: Includes professional associations, peak bodies, disease specific or clinical support groups.

    On-campus partners: Includes those who are located on-site at RCH and generate publicity independently.

    6. Responsibility

    • Every employee.
    • Staff who may be supervising volunteers, fundraisers and others who work on a casual basis on RCH premises.
    • Executive members and senior leadership team members to ensure their staff are aware of this procedure.
    • The Corporate Communications staff to educate and monitor compliance with the procedure.
    • The Executive to support and enforce the procedure.