In this section
This procedure is to ensure shared understanding and expectations of how we define safe and positive workplace behaviours. The Royal Children’s Hospital is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people through the behaviour of its workforce. If safe and positive behaviours are not
maintained, then it potentially compromises clinical quality and safety impacts on all aspects of RCH, including staff, patients, families, visitors, the reputation of the hospital, and most importantly, our ability to provide GREAT care.
The behaviour of employees at the RCH is governed by legislation, the Victorian Public Sector Employment Principles (refer p.17) and RCH Codes of Conduct, RCH values and RCH Compacts and its Policies and Procedures. It is unacceptable and unlawful for a person or group of people to
engage in behaviour which amounts to discrimination on the basis of personal attributes or characteristics, harassment including sexual harassment, bullying, victimisation, vilification or occupational violence. This also includes not requesting, instructing, assisting, authorising or encouraging others to behave in ways
that reflect such behaviour.
A safe and positive workplace provides education and support to assist individuals in understanding unacceptable behaviour, and the most effective way to respond. Inappropriate behaviours, such as incivility, left unresolved, may lead to more serious inappropriate behaviours in the
workplace. A commitment to early intervention of such issues is critical in supporting a positive workplace culture.
A safe and positive workplace is one that observes human rights. The Australian Human Rights Commission states: “We all have human
rights. Human rights express how people should, and should not, be treated by
individuals, by government, and by the community. We all want our human rights
to be acknowledged by our friends, families and employers. We all have
responsibilities to respect them and others. Our national human rights laws
provide legal protection to people who have been treated unfairly and set standards
for all of us to follow” (
Providing a safe and positive workplace extends to ensuring that employees remain committed to and comply with expected behaviours out of hours where such conduct may adversely affect RCH staff, affect the public image or reputation of RCH or may bring the RCH disrepute
This procedure applies to all board members, managers and employees, prospective employees, contractors, honorary employees, students, volunteers and affiliates. This procedure applies to behaviour within the workplace, on social media platforms (as outlined in the Social Media Procedure) and at offsite and out-of-hours work-related
"Complaint" means a statement or expression that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable made by a person as identified within the scope of this procedure;
A “personal attribute, characteristic or activity “as defined by the federal and state law is;
Protected disclosure/whistleblowing exists to encourage people in both private and public sector workplaces, to report serious wrongdoing in their workplace by providing protection for employees who want to ‘blow the whistle’. ‘Serious wrongdoing’ includes:
Incivility is deviant workplace behaviour of low intensity that can include such behaviour as being rude, discourteous, impolite or violating workplace norms of behaviour, regarded as antisocial behaviour.
Workplace bullying is defined as repeated and unreasonable behaviour, directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health, wellbeing and/or safety. Behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable includes, that which
victimizes, humiliates, intimidates or threatens. The intent of the behaviour (either intentional or unintentional) is no excuse for workplace bullying or any behaviour that is contrary to the RCH Code of Conduct or Compacts, and will not be accepted as part of an individual’s defence for such actions.
Workplace conflict is not, on its own, workplace bullying, as not all conflicts have negative health effects. However, conflict may escalate to the point where it becomes workplace bullying. Managers are equally encouraged to raise concerns regarding bullying behaviour should they believe upward bullying is occurring as
a result of undertaking their role and responsibility for the management of staff, such as undertaking performance management or disciplinary action.
Reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way is not workplace bullying, such as the allocation of work and giving fair and reasonable feedback, including performance appraisal, even if unpleasant, distressing or negative.
A single incident of unreasonable behaviour or incivility is not on its own workplace bullying, but it is also not acceptable and could be in breach of the RCH Code of Conduct, and may have the potential to escalate and should, therefore, not be ignored.
Harassment is unwelcome comments or behaviour that could reasonably be expected to offend, humiliate or intimidate another person. Harassment is unlawful when it is based on the protected attributes eg; race, age etc as articulated on page 3.
Harassment can be a repeated behaviour or a single act. Harassment makes the work environment unpleasant, sometimes hostile and may affect work performance. Harassment can often be the result of behaviour that is not intended to offend or harm, such as
jokes or unwarranted attention. However the fact that it is unintentional does not mean that it is not unlawful.
Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic or attribute that is protected by law.
Direct discrimination – this may occur if a person treats, or proposes to treat, a person with an attribute unfavourably because of that attribute. For example:
Direct discrimination may also occur if you do not make or do not propose to
make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person with a disability or
impairment - see the ‘Disability and Reasonable Adjustment and Accommodation
Indirect discrimination – this may occur when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice that purports to treat everyone the same, ends up either actually or potentially disadvantaging someone with a protected personal characteristic because of that characteristic.
Unconscious bias, also known as
implicit bias, is a learned assumption, belief, or attitude that exists in
the subconscious. Everyone has these biases and uses them as mental shortcuts
for faster information-processing. These shortcuts can come at cost however,
and can have harmful effects on the person we may be making assumptions about.
The Ethics Centre Australia provide a useful video which explains Unconscious Bias. https://ethics.org.au/ethics-unboxed-bias/
Occupational Violence is a physical attack or threat of violence to an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health and safety. It includes aggression and challenging behaviours. It can be categorised as work related (client or colleague initiated), or
may be committed by a person that is not connected with the workplace (external or intrusive occupational violence) This procedure deals with Occupational violence as perpetrated by employees, contractors or volunteers (whether individually or in groups) against other employees, contractors, or volunteers.
Please refer to the Occupational Violence procedure relating to the management of clinical related aggression issues.
Victimisation is subjecting, or threatening to subject someone to something detrimental because they have asserted their rights under equal opportunity law, made a complaint, helped someone else to make a complaint, or refused to do something because it would be a form of discrimination, sexual
harassment or victimisation.
Vilification is behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group of people because of their race or religion.
The penalties for taking or threatening to take detrimental action include fines and imprisonment for up to 2 years. Civil action may also be taken in which case compensation may be ordered.
A person who reports actual or threatened detrimental action taken in reprisal for the making of a protected disclosure or for cooperating with the investigation into a protected disclosure must be instructed to report the matter directly to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission
(IBAC). The RCH Chief Executive Officer must also be informed immediately if a report of actual or threatened detrimental action is received.
If a person suspects detrimental action may have been taken or has been threatened, they must raise their concerns with the RCH Chief Executive Officer immediately.
Any disciplinary action taken against a person who is known to have made a protected disclosure must be in accordance with the Performance Management and Disciplinary Procedure.
The RCH encourages all persons to raise any concerns and seek assistance if they are worried about any element that may impact a safe and positive workplace being maintained. A person who has a concern regarding behaviours may choose to work through their concerns and/issues in a
number of ways. This choice will be dependent on a number of factors which may include the working environment, people involved, confidence in managing the situation, seriousness of the behaviours, safety, etc.
The RCH encourages people to attempt to manage and/or resolve issues one on one in the first instance where this is safe and reasonable to do so. However, sometimes this may not be appropriate and there are other processes that can be followed, according to
the principles of confidentiality, procedural fairness, timeliness, transparency and without repercussions.
Note: Concerns raised via the VHIMS process
will be managed in accordance with the Safe and Positive Workplace Behaviours
RCH supports the objectives of the Public Interests Disclosure Act 2012 (formerly Protected Disclosure Act 2012) and encourages staff to disclose known or suspected incidences of improper conduct that involve the RCH or its employees by reporting such conduct to the Independent Board-based Anti-corruption Commission IBAC.
RCH will protect staff from detrimental action for having made a disclosure.
For further information please refer to the
RCH Public Interest Disclosures procedure and IBAC's
Guidelines for making public interest disclosures
- [web-link also provided as follows:-
See also Fraud, Corruption and Other Losses Prevention and Management Procedure: https://www.rch.org.au/policy/policies/fraud-corruption-and-other-losses-prevention-and-mngmnt/
An informal resolution can be considered where the person would like to pursue the matter without a formal process, but does not feel comfortable approaching the other person directly.
Note: There may be circumstances where a Manager or HR Partner/HR
Advisor may determine that self-management or informal resolution is not
appropriate and more formal resolution/ action is required. This may occur where the behaviour identified
constitutes a risk to the health and safety of any person, where the behaviour
is reflective of a broader issue, a repeated course of behaviour, or is
Click here for link to manager
Issues leading to a formal resolution may be discovered by a manager or via a complaint.
Formal resolution is used in the following circumstances;
1. A complaint, either verbally or in writing is made to;
2. The complaint will need to be explained clearly, be inclusive of all relevant details, any supporting evidence or materials and name all parties involved
The complaint, will be reviewed to determine the most appropriate form of formal resolution process. The options may include but are not limited to;
If the CEO and/or the Executive Director People & Culture determine an investigation is necessary as part of the formal resolution process, the following actions will may follow;
1. A written/verbal complaint is provided to the appointed investigator to confirm/identify specific allegations;
2. The respondent/s will be provided with:
3. Employee Assistance Support Referral for both the complainant and respondent;
4. Peer support and any other external support services, i.e. Beyond Blue, LifeLine, if appropriate;
5. Interview the respondent and any witnesses to the incident/s;
6. Investigation outcome to be provided to the relevant manager / Executive Director as appropriate;
7. Outcome notified to the complainant and respondent e.g. allegations are substantiated or unsubstantiated.
A substantiated allegation of behaviour that amounts to discrimination, harassment, bullying, victimization, vilification or occupational violence may constitute misconduct or serious misconduct under the Performance Management and Disciplinary Procedure. If the behaviour is unlawful, then it will require
formal reporting to the Police and/or other external authorities. Formal disciplinary action in accordance with clause 4.2.2 of the Performance Management and Disciplinary Procedure may be undertaken based on an investigation conducted in accordance with the above procedure without the need
for RCH to undertake any further investigation in relation to the alleged conduct. Employees who have had allegations against them substantiated could face one or more of the following consequences:
Note: The relevant Executive Director in consultation with HR, Legal Counsel and/or the CEO, will determine the investigation process, in each
instance based upon the complaint, circumstances and information available and
determine the most appropriate investigator to be assigned to the
investigation, based on the required skills, experience and qualifications. Any
formal investigation will be conducted in a timely manner, with consideration
to witness availability etc. to ensure a conclusive outcome is achieved whilst
adhering to the principles of natural justice, procedural fairness,
confidentiality, without repercussions, and transparency, and comply with
governing Public Sector and RCH Policies and Procedures.
While staff are encouraged to use the RCH internal complaints procedure, they have a right to seek advice from and/or lodge a complaint with external bodies such as Worksafe, Fair Work Commission, Victoria Police or a state or federal equal opportunity and discrimination body or the Victorian Ombudsman.
If an interaction with a family or colleague leaves
you feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, this is generally a good sign that their
behaviour is not acceptable, and that escalation may be required. It is ok to be
upset or angry, these emotions are perfectly normal when dealing with difficult
people or situations, and it is important to acknowledge and deal with these so
that they don’t impact your wellbeing following an interaction or incident. People
usually recover quickly after exposure to OVA, often with practical and
emotional support from others.
If the violent or aggressive behaviour is not
escalated or addressed, it will likely continue, therefore it is vital that you
escalate concerns appropriately.
If a family, patients’ behaviour is escalating or you have
concerns, in the first instance escalate to Nurse in charge, or medical team if
the behaviour relates medical concerns - as you would if escalating care in
normal circumstances. If required, contact the Code Grey Coordinator available
Monday-Friday between 8am-11pm, and on weekends between 11:30am – 8pm. If it
relates to a colleague, peruse the three options above.
Reasoning with an aggressive or emotional person is
often not possible. Your main objective should be to reduce the level of
arousal so that discussion becomes possible.
1. Appear calm, centred and self-assured, even
though you might not feel that way.
2. Acknowledge and empathise with the emotions
behind the behaviour (e.g. "I understand that you are upset, this is a
really tough situation, but it is not okay for you to talk to us like that”.)
3. Suggest simple alternatives e.g. "Let me see
if I can call someone to explain the situation a little better, Let me contact
the ward for you so I can relay your concerns and find a solution".
4. Allow extra physical space between yourself and
5. Treat the person with dignity and respect. Ignore
insults and don't be judgemental
The grievance and dispute resolution procedure provides an avenue for staff to work through issues regarding their work environment such as changes to the environment etc. Concerns relating to behaviour within the workplace will be dealt with under this procedure.
If you are subjected to unacceptable behaviour you have a right and obligation to report it. However, it can be difficult to investigate or intervene on the basis of anonymous complaints. To act upon this type of complaint is unfair and not in accordance with natural justice or the behaviour
of the RCH Compact. Nevertheless, the receipt of anonymous complaints may lead to an investigation and/or a review given such complaints reflect a level of dysfunction and concern for a less than safe and positive workplace. It is important to understand that the RCH is committed to a culture whereby people
can ultimately speak openly and solve problems together through transparency in words and actions. Employee representatives, such as unions and work colleagues can assist individuals in this process, so they are not left alone to raise an issue, if they don’t feel
safe to do so. The RCH therefore considers such options as key supports to maintaining the principles of open disclosure, transparency and natural justice prevailing.
It is important to ensure that confidentiality around complaints and workplace issues is maintained. This includes only discussing issues with people who have a justifiable need to know such as a manager, HR, EAP or support person. This is to ensure the
issue is dealt with in a sensitive manner, maintains the integrity of the investigative or resolution process, reduces the risk of the issue becoming bigger or more complex and assists in resolving the relationships of people involved.
Confidentiality is also critical during the formal investigative process to ensure the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness are maintained. People involved in formal investigations will be reminded of this during the process and failure to do so may result in the Performance Management and
Disciplinary Procedure being enacted.
Information about another person cannot be requested, supplied or utilised to enable the behaviours listed in this procedure to occur eg; use the information to discriminate, bully or harass someone that is involved in a workplace complaint.
Any complaints made against another person in relation to this procedure which are found to be manifestly false or vexatious may result in disciplinary action taken in accordance with the Performance Management and Disciplinary Procedure.
Former employees who come forward with a complaint or allegation of misconduct in the context of bullying or sexual harassment inter alia during their employment at the RCH, will be evaluated on a case by case basis in order to determine the best course of action, i.e. an
investigation or review into historical events. The Executive Director People & Culture, in consultation with the Chief Executive, will oversight any process attached to such claims and manage the formal communication with the former employee, as appropriate.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of a
formal investigation and has already received a response or outcome from the
Chief Executive Officer, he/she may submit a written appeal to the Chair of the
RCH Board. Such appeal must be filed within ten (10) business days after
receipt of the decision. The Chair, or their Board nominee, will arrange such
meetings with the complainant and other affected parties as deemed necessary,
to review and discuss the appeal. The Chair, or Board nominee, will provide a
written decision to the complainant’s appeal within ten (10) business days of
the appeal being filed.
Flow chart - Safe and Positive Workplace Behaviours - Resolution Methods - [click
here for a .pdf version]