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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Chapter 5 – Providing Safe and Supportive Workplaces

Occupational Violence and Aggression Against State Service Employees

In early 2017, the TSS and key unions launched a joint awareness campaign to help address occupational violence and aggression against TSS employees. Since the launch agencies have been progressing work in a number of areas to support the agreed Statement of Principles:

  • developing policies and procedures;
  • adapting work environments;
  • updating workplace security; and
  • improving reporting cultures.

To support agency activity, SSMO coordinated de-escalation training for at-risk service areas which was provided by Tasmania Police. In 2017-18, 215 employees underwent this training, with a further 1,000 employees to be trained over the next 12 months.

We are also working with unions to research and trial other strategies to reduce the risk to employees in front-line service areas including how changes in the client environment may reduce the triggers for aggressive behaviour.

Stress Management Training Intervention Study

SSMO and the TTC partnered with UTAS and Smiling Minds to undertake a stress management training research study for employees in mid-high demand roles across the TSS during 2018. The project aligned with the Tasmanian Healthy and Safe Workplace Initiative and the Rethink Mental Health Plan by building partnerships and evidence around mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention in the workplace.

All TSS agencies were invited to participate with the addition of TasNetworks and two councils (the Hobart City Council and the Kingborough Council). A total of 211 participants were selected through an expression of interest process.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Agencies implemented activities in 2017-18 to increase access to flexible working arrangements, and promoted such arrangements through:

  • intranet information and resources;
  • information sessions;
  • team support from HR;
  • flexible working arrangements policies, procedures and guidelines;
  • including flexibility questions on diversity census;
  • induction processes;
  • internal staff newsletters; and
  • direct discussion between an employee and their manager.

Agencies also expanded on their support for flexible working arrangements through replacing existing desktop PCs with laptops, and enabling access to key systems through external networks.

There was an increase in the number of formal arrangements in place over the period, with 418 agreements across seven agencies, compared to 269 agreements in six agencies in 2016-17.

In addition, employees have the ability to access additional leave, in 2017-18 across all 16 agencies this totalled:

  • 638 permanent and 19 fixed-term employees participating in the State Service Purchased Leave Scheme (666 in 2016-17);
  • 292 permanent and nine fixed-term employees participating in the State Service Accumulated Leave Scheme (240 in 2016-17);
  • 910 employees accessed paid maternity or parental leave (864 in 2016-17);
  • two employees accessed paid adoption leave (one in 2016-17); and
  • 57 employees accessed unpaid maternity or parental leave (583 in 2016-17).

In 2017-18 agencies continued to promote WHS and consult with employees and officers on WHS issues through:

  • intranet news items;
  • divisional/unit meetings;
  • induction activities;
  • WHS committees and networks;
  • a critical incident and emergency procedure app; and
  • webinars.

Family Violence

Since November 2012 the TSS has assisted employees experiencing family violence with access to leave, supported by Employment Direction No 28: Family Violence – Workplace Arrangements and Requirements (ED 28).

In December 2016 State Service Awards were amended to provide employees experiencing family violence with access to 10 days paid leave per year to attend medical, legal, housing, education, counselling and other support services. Employees can also access personal leave to provide support to a family member experiencing family violence.

Agencies reported that, in accordance with the provisions of ED 28, 42 applications for leave were made and approved over the 2017-18 period (compared to 33 in 2016-17). This was in addition to the informal support provided such as:

  • financial planning advice;
  • access to legal assistance;
  • the loan of mobile phones and laptops;
  • accommodation assistance; and
  • information and fact sheets on seeking assistance.

Agencies also continued to train key staff in supporting employees who may be experiencing family violence, with 822 managers and contact officers participating in training in 2017-18 (an increase from 365 in 2016-17).

A number of agencies also noted the increase in supportive policies, training, and assistance provided was aligned with activities associated with White Ribbon Australia accreditation.

Work Health and Safety, and Wellbeing Activities

Employment Directions and the corresponding policies and guidelines, including those relating to Work Health and Safety (WHS) and Wellbeing, are being reviewed as part of the wider Employment Framework examination by SSMO.

In 2017-18 SSMO helped our workforce to form healthy lifestyle habits by promoting use of the Ritualize Tasmania app-based program. As part of the Healthy Tasmanian Workplaces initiative, the app guides users to make healthier choices and promotes a more active lifestyle.

In accordance with Employment Direction No. 27: Work Health and Safety agencies must ensure that information, training and instruction is provided to protect workers from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of their business or undertaking. In 2017-18, 3,373 employees and officers received training.

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