12 March 2015
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has moved
swiftly to establish an expert advisory group to deal with concerns
of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the health
RACS President Michael Grigg said there was no denying that
bullying and harassment occurred within the health workforce and
the College of Surgeons had zero tolerance for this behaviour.
"The expert advisory group's charter will include reviewing the
College's current policies and procedures, establishing a reporting
framework to measure progress in dealing with bullying and
harassment, addressing the College's gender balance and acting as a
medium between the College and the hospitals/health departments to
provide a way forward to eliminating bullying and harassment," Prof
Professor Grigg said that the new group would be chaired by
former Victorian Health Minister and current Chair of the Royal
Children's Hospital, the Hon Rob Knowles AO.
"Dr Helen Szoke, the current CEO of Oxfam, but previously
Australia's Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner following
seven years as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights
Commissioner, has agreed to be Deputy Chair," the RACS President
Dr Joanna Flynn AM, Chair of the Medical Board of Australia and
Mr Ken Lay APM, former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police have
also agreed to act on the group as have Mr Graeme Campbell, the
College's incoming Vice President and Dr Cathy Ferguson, the
incoming Chair of the College's Professional Standards.
"This group will comprise of individuals with substantial
experience in equal opportunity, racial discrimination and
regulatory issues," Prof Grigg said.
"Bullying and harassment must be notified and must be
investigated. This is fundamental to correcting behaviour and
ensuring inappropriate decisions or actions are addressed.
Professor Grigg said that the issue of harassment and bullying
was much bigger than any one hospital and the College had already
written to all Ministers of Health across Australia and New Zealand
seeking to engage positively with them to improve the culture of
hospitals and the health care sector.
The College recognises there are problems but is determined to
be part of the solution.
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