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Prevention in spotlight at Victoria’s public sector awards

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Successful prevention initiatives have been highlighted at Victoria’s public sector leadership awards, with several policy programs taking out gongs.

Melbourne Health did particularly well at the Victorian Institute of Public Administration Australia night, receiving three awards in the service delivery, indigenous employment and communication areas.

This year’s event featured two new categories in communication and environmental sustainability. The winners were …

Service Delivery Award

Melbourne Health — Refugee Health Clinical Hub

The project, developed over five years, saw the creation of a new, wide-ranging system for sharing patient health data in real time between health professionals. The Clinical Hub is currently used by four health networks and four hospitals, but is available to any hospital or GP in Australia.

Although it was initially developed to help refugees, who often have poor language skills and health, and may suffer from complex conditions, the system has been designed to be dynamic enough to be used for anyone.

Previously there was no co-ordinated record-sharing mechanism. “The old system was totally inadequate,” Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs told The Mandarin. “You saw problems like patients being tested twice.”

It also incorporates tele-health to improve access for patients in rural Victoria and to improve access to interpreters.

Communication Award

Melbourne Health — Influenza Vaccination Campaign

In 2012, the rate of flu vaccinations among Melbourne Health staff and volunteers had stagnated at around 45%. This project used a range of techniques, including notices on elevators — “get the lift not the flu!” — balloons, and stickers for those who had been vaccinated, to encourage staff to get the jab.

The strategy also incorporates competition between teams and staff types (doctors, nurses, and so on) by reporting vaccination rates in real time, with teams achieving above 95% getting to enter awards for a small cash prize.

Staff really got into the competitive spirit behind the initiative, says Sharon McGowan, executive director of communications and community relations. “We even had teams that only reached a 94% vaccination rate begging to be allowed into the awards,” she said.

As a result, Melbourne Health attained a compliance rate of 90% in 2013, and 92% in 2014. Social pressure and competition are also being incorporated into a similar initiative promoting hand washing.

Policy Development Award

Department of Health and Human Services — Healthy Together Victoria: Building Healthier Victorian Communities

The Healthy Together program takes a preventive approach to dealing with the issue of obesity by working to promote good health through “the places where we spend our time” — childcare centres, schools, workplaces, food outlets, sporting clubs and so on. Through participating organisations, Healthy Together Victoria has already impacted on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Victorians.

Indigenous Employment Award

Melbourne Health — Together We Care

Together We Care is an in-house video to promote Melbourne Health as an employer of choice among indigenous people. It features two Aboriginal employees discussing their values, their career experiences and expectations of their employer and managers, as well as what Melbourne Health’s Aboriginal Employment Plan means to them.

People Development Award

Department of Justice and Regulation — Koori Cultural Awareness Training

Environemental Protection Authority Victoria — EPA Expertise Framework

Notwithstanding threats to lock them in a room overnight, the judges in this category were unable to choose between the two finalists, opting to give a shared award. Justice and Regulation’s Koori Cultural Awareness Training program uses an innovative combination of traditional Aboriginal learning techniques to help staff learn about interacting with indigenous colleagues and clients in a culturally sensitive way. The department has has delivered 216 sessions to over 3000 staff.

The EPA’s Expertise Framework develops staff by identifying, recognising and rewarding those with the greatest knowledge in particular areas, helping develop leadership and technical skills to ensure the EPA is able to deliver high-quality evidence-based policy. The experts are appointed to roles where they devote 50% of their time to developing and sharing their specialist knowledge.

Leading the Way in Health, Safety and Wellbeing Award

Department of Education and Training — Employee Safety and Wellbeing and Workers’ Compensation Payment Strategy

As the largest employer in Victoria, with over 70,000 staff in 1800 geographically diverse workplaces, the Department of Education and Training has a tough job ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its employees.

This strategy has seen the implementation of systematic programs in consultation with its employees and in partnership with external stakeholders to support and drive improvement in safety, wellbeing and workers’ compensation. By working more closely with those involved, it has helped to reduce the human and financial costs associated with workplace injuries.

Environmental Sustainability Award

Department of Health — Creating a Sustainable Healthcare System

This strategy has helped public hospitals over the past seven years reduce water use by around one billion litres and use 17% less energy per hospital admission. It has also led to most major metro and regional health services employing a dedicated sustainability officer.

Risk Management Award

East Grampians Health Service — Internal Auditing of Clinical Areas

When this program began, it was felt that the East Grampians Health Service had not been managing risk well; this initiative has helped develop and integrated internal audit framework, pulling together previously fragmented processes into a single framework based on the international standard.

Young Indigenous Scholarship

Thomas Bell

Throughout his career, Bell has focused on working with Aboriginal communities — from local Aboriginal justice worker in Dandenong, to providing support to Aboriginal people at the Victim Support Agency and the Victorian Electoral Commission, to his current leadership role as executive officer to the Eastern Region Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee.

Young Public Sector Leader Awards

Maja Harilova

Currently assistant manager, strategic projects at the Higher Education and Skills Group in the Department of Education and Training, Harilova has a strong interest in using the insights of behavioural economics in her work.

One area she has recently been engaged in is considering what factors impact on students’ decisions of what to study, discovering that for many, current circumstances outweigh longer-term considerations.

Mia Davison

Mia has worked as assistant director of strategic planning within the Victorian government for four years, with a focus on managing Melbourne’s growth. She has over 17 years’ experience working for local, state and national governments and consultancies in Victoria and the United Kingdom.

J.A. Aird Award

Martin Ditmann

This award, named after John Allan Aird, a founding member and former president of IPAA Victoria, is given to the student who receives the highest result in a Victorian university public policy subject. Ditmann is a Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Melbourne, and is a current editor of student magazine Farrago.

Author Bio

David Donaldson

David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.