LEARNING SEAT RECENTLY HELD THE LEARNING LEADERSHIP: GOVERNMENT FORUM AT LANDER & ROGERS IN MELBOURNE.
We invited local government leaders to present, discuss and share major challenges and issues that their local councils are facing.
Major topics covered were:
- Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
- the Victorian Child Safe Standards
- workplace culture.
Watch the highlight reel from the government forum:
Browse the slide deck from the event:
ARE YOU TRAINING ALL YOUR STAFF ON THE COMPLEXITIES OF THE CHARTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES?
Emma Purdue, Senior Associate from Lander & Rogers, kicked off the morning with a look at the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (the Charter) and how it should help generate a culture of human rights in the Victorian public sector. This will be achieved by encouraging people to think about and incorporate human rights into everyday operations. There are three requirements in this strategy:
- Public authorities must consider and act compatibly with human rights.
- Human rights need to be considered when developing new laws.
- Existing laws must be consistent with human rights.
Emma noted that an assessment of the Charter identified a need for greater effort in building a human rights culture in the public sector. Often, laws such as the Charter are at risk because they aren’t filtered down to people who deal with the public on a day-to-day basis. To build a human rights culture within the public sector, make sure that your organisational vision, plans, policies and procedures are there to support good human rights practices, and that human rights capabilities and professional development options are included in job descriptions.
Think about your volunteers – are they trained on the Charter? How are you training your workers who deal with people daily?
DOES YOUR ORGANISATION HAVE A ‘SPEAK-UP’ CULTURE?
Nathan Luker from Your Call – Australia’s leading whistleblowing service and a Learning Seat partner – took the floor to discuss whistleblowing.
While you’ve probably seen the headlines about whistleblowing (from Edward Snowden to local tipsters), we’re becoming increasingly aware that these aren’t isolated incidents affecting only a few people. In fact, 42 per cent of worldwide frauds were detected through employee tip-offs. Nathan also discussed that 70 per cent of whistleblowers fear retaliation when speaking up, due to a lack of internal and external systems in place to protect them.
A ‘speak-up’ culture is one where workers are encouraged to report suspicions of unethical behaviour early. This is becoming a mandatory requirement for organisations looking to expose, deter and prevent misconduct.
Bringing in a formal, third-party whistleblowing service ensures that you’re creating a speak-up culture within your organisation, where your staff are empowered – not scared – to raise awareness of potential risks and threats to your organisation and people.
Establishing a whistleblowing program in your organisation? Download this handy checklist from Your Call.
IS YOUR TEAM READY TO MEET THE NEW CHILD SAFE STANDARDS?
The next speaker was Sandra Wakeham from the Commission of Children and Young People, which was created to protect, promote and advocate for young people in Victoria, and assist organisations to prevent and respond to child abuse.
As of 1 January 2017, organisations that work with children will need to comply with the new Victorian Child Safe Standards. These standards are being implemented following the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry, which demonstrated that child abuse can have a long-term impact on children, affecting them well into adulthood. Organisations can’t become complacent in assuming that this kind of abuse won’t happen in their workplaces – because, unfortunately, it can happen anywhere. As of the new year, the Commission for Children and Young People will be able to oversee and enforce compliance with the Child Safe Standards to ensure that child-safe organisations exist.
Download A Guide to Creating a Child Safe Organisation from the Commission of Children and Young People, which outlines the seven new standards that organisations need to meet.
All organisations are required to meet all seven standards, and the commission takes on new function of oversight and enforcement. A good start is to look at some of the standards that set out the framework:
- Set organisational culture and leadership arrangements. This is the foundation for all the standards to assist. Strong leadership is required in setting the tone, and conduct from staff within your organisation. Also to make sure whatever systems are sustained over time. Child safety is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone from the board-down has a role to play.
- Have a good risk assessment and management plan in place. These aren’t all isolated pieces of work that need to be completed by your organisation, they all have a synergy in the way they come together. The culture you create can help meet these standards. But first, you need to have a robust understanding of the unique risks associated within organisation setting: who your workforce is, physical environment looks like, activities provided and if children have a particular vulnerability. A risk management plan can help you identify what can go wrong, and where are the areas you need to focus your attention on whether you’re providing a safe environment for children.
- Empowerment of participation of children. If tools, systems and structures are being put into action, first you need participation by people impacted by them. Children are more likely to speak up about concerns if they feel like their contribution is valuable and taken seriously. They need to be involved in the building of policies and procedures as do any adults involved in this process.
Culture takes time to build; it needs to be established meaningfully and proactively. Organisations should focus on encouraging their workers to have honest and constructive conversations, and to carefully examine systems to see where they can be strengthened and if there are flaws. Self-auditing is a great way to make these assessments and to consider appropriate methods for solidifying appropriate behaviour in the future.
HOW IS THE CITY OF MELBOURNE COMPLYING WITH THE STANDARDS AND ADAPTING TO CHANGES IN WORPLACE CULTURE?
Sharon Rooney from the City of Melbourne spoke about the journey that the council has taken to comply with the Child Safe Standards and how they intend to change their own workplace culture. To bring about successful and positive changes, Sharon pointed out that it’s crucial for the council to consider how they convey this to their workers. As part of local government, the City of Melbourne also needs to directly provide children with information on how they can report anything suspicious, so that they feel safe.
The CEO and leadership team of the City of Melbourne are strongly committed to implementing the standards as a key driver across the organisation. They’ve created a child-safe working group of 12 representatives from each of their local branches who meet fortnightly to audit their branches and discover differences in their approaches to fixing gaps. They are aiming to create a cohesive response.
The City of Melbourne’s message to their team is: ‘If you suspect or see something, act on it.’ A speak-up culture is critical to an organisation in supporting and promoting the Child Safe Standards. In their mission to change workplace culture, the City of Melbourne partnered with Learning Seat and Knox City Council to produce an eLearning course to help train internal teams on the new standards. The Child Safe Standards Victoria course is being launched in the City of Melbourne’s induction package. There are also three-hour workshops on offer, discussing the Child Safe Standards in more detail and covering case studies and council reporting processes.
COMMON THEMES FROM THE DAY
Leadership, speaking out and workplace culture all go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the others. It takes a significant amount of time and energy to change a workplace culture for good, but the tone needs to start at the top, and it must reach the workers at all levels of an organisation.
If you’re in the process of assessing your risk and looking to comply with areas such as the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the new Child Safe Standards in Victoria, contact our Learning Seat Melbourne team and we can help you change your workplace behaviour for good.