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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 Manager Media Engagement and Strategy, 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 role roster, available through the RCH switchboard.

    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 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 provide strategic preferential access to hospital stories to these networks for the designated period as outlined in the Media Partner agreement  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 Manager, Media Engagement and Strategy. This includes conversations described as 'off the record'.
      • All media inquiries must be immediately directed to the Executive Director Communications or Manager Media Engagement and Strategy. 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 Manager Media Engagement and Strategy is the liaison between the organisation and the media and is authorised to act as a spokesperson on matters of fact or clarification, or to provide patient condition reports.
      • The Manager Media Engagement and Strategy 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 Manager Media Engagement and Strategy will escalate the media response to the Executive Director Communications, who may in some instances escalate the matter to the CEO and/or Chairman upon assessment of the inquiry.
        • RCH on-campus partners including Murdoch Childrens 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 Corporate Communications. Media will be escorted by Corporate Communications. 
        • Media must be escorted in the hospital at all times by Corporate Communications.
        • Media are permitted to film road ambulance arrivals only from within the designated zone marked ‘MEDIA’, located in the Emergency car park. All crew and equipment must remain inside the media zone for the duration of filming.
        • 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. 
        • The Executive Director, Communications must approve all requests to hold a Media Conference.
        • Filming and photography in the hospital by the media or external organisations is not permitted without the permission of Corporate Communications.
        • 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 $1500 per access subject to the decision of the Executive Director Communications. In addition to the location fee, an hourly fee of $50 may be levied for a Corporate Communications Officer to accompany film crews on RCH premises.

        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 and electronic.

        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 fund raising 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, fund-raisers and others who work on a casual basis on RCH premises.
        • Executive members and department heads 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.

        RCH policies and procedures are integral to the RCH achieving its vision of being a "GREAT children's hospital, leading the way."


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