In addition to Organising, the VHPA has a fairly significant resource dedicated to advocating for individual Members. The Member Assist Team comprises Martin Schoo and Organisers, John Ryan and Luke Smeaton.
These are the stories that you tend to hear less about because, ostensibly they only affect one Member and sometimes there are confidentiality requirements around the outcomes achieved.
“It’s important that all Members know about this aspect of the Branch work, in case you ever need to use it.” said VHPA Assistant Secretary, Andrew Hewat. “And more broadly, even if you never have any troubles yourself, it’s good to know that your fellow Health Professionals are being well looked after in this regard.”
VHPA Organiser, John Ryan recently assisted a Member facing a complaint about his behavior who said his advice to other Members would be, ”never assume you can do it on your own.”
While the member believed there was no case to be found against him, he says, “You may have had a clean record at work for many years but one allegation or unsubstantiated blemish can become the defining aspect of your working life from then onwards.”
The member sought the advice of the VHPA when faced with a series of allegations about his conduct; there had been no prior discussion and the first advice he received was via a formal letter from management.
The member observed, “these days the health sector is moving to a business model that is contrary to the old principles of health care, ones that were based on openness and integrity, understanding and compassion.” He was worried that the process condemned him before he could defend himself and found this emotionally overwhelming and had started to doubt himself.
He called the VHPA so he could make sure he was properly prepared and represented. With John’s assistance, the Member was able to successfully counter the allegations. It’s a timely reminder that anyone can encounter difficulties at work, often through no fault of their own. As the Member in this case remarked, “As employers get bigger and more business orientated, employees as individuals become smaller and more vulnerable and therefore need to be collectively part of a strong representative body.”