Professor David Forbes, A/Chief Medical Officer, WA Department of Health

Re: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (July edition) The WA Department of Health has a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment in our workplace. We have developed a variety of robust policies and programs designed to promote a culture of respect and inclusion throughout the organisation.

Our junior doctors need extra support as they adjust to working in our hospitals, so we have put in place a variety of practical initiatives.

For example, Royal Perth Hospital’s Junior Doctor Wellbeing Office provides individual counselling and peer-group sessions, mindfulness programs, discussion groups focusing on bullying, harassment and sexual discrimination, clinical debriefing sessions and mentoring.

This service is well attended with more than 60% of interns, Resident Medical Officers and Registrars from Royal Perth Hospital accessing the support program. User feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with reports of improved personal health and wellbeing.

Furthermore, additional accreditation standards have now been added to JMO rotations that include a requirement for health services to demonstrate that support services and appropriate anti-bullying mechanisms are in place.

We have policies that define and prohibit bullying and harassment. They also specify proactive requirements for all employees to uphold the highest standards of professional and ethical behaviour, and to be vigilant and report any instances of bullying witnessed.

In 2017 the Minister for Health, Department of Health and the AMA (WA) collaborated to launch the SH-OUT campaign, to affirm zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

The Department also offers a 24-hour, 1800 ethical advisory line to support staff dealing with conduct issues, and advice for appropriate reporting pathways.  I would encourage any staff member who feels they have been mistreated to avail themselves of any of the support mechanisms available.

There is no place for bullying in our hospitals.

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