Respect cannot wait.
Evidence worldwide shows that a positive workplace environment creates a better, safer and more compassionate environment for patient care – a better environment for our patients as well as for all of us.
Many of you are leaders in your field but only those who show respect to others are true leaders within this organisation.
We face immense challenges in tackling the vast demands on our resources. There is a great tendency in hospitals to accept the bad behaviour of some because ‘they are brilliant at what they do; we don’t want to lose them’…
The fact is if you cannot show compassion and respect for your colleagues and your patients, then you are not at your best.
Many of you who work at Western Health devote the greater part of your lives to providing care to thousands of patients of the west of Melbourne. Some of you have chosen to work here because you want to make a difference and because you want to make your mark.
We have a reputation for getting on and doing, but this cannot be at the expense of the quality of our interactions with each other.
If we believe in treating our community with dignity and respect, we must not lose sight of the culture of the organisation needed to support that.
When instances of poor behaviour occur, most of us are bystanders, not perpetrators. Most of us have stood by and stayed silent when we had the option to speak up, to call our colleagues to account.
In August 2016, we invited the Australian of the Year, Lt Gen David Morrison (Ret’d), Former Chief of Army, to Sunshine Hospital to speak with our doctors and surgeons around issues of workplace culture, bullying and harassment and gender diversity.
David Morrison made a video speech to the armed forces when he was Chief of Army in which he said:
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”
We all have a duty not to ‘walk past’ when we see or become aware of unacceptable behaviours, yet often we do just that. For many employees and volunteers, speaking up is not an option if a range of supports are not in place. It is our role as employers and leaders, to establish those supports and back them up.
I know it will take a lot of courage for us to get this right. You demonstrate courage every time you make a difficult clinical decision. Now I am asking for that courage to extend to getting this right.
Respect cannot wait.