6. Expert supports for health, safety and wellbeing
Department staff, including all school staff, have access to a suite of health, safety and wellbeing expert supports, including:
- the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Manager Assist
- LifeWorks Health and Wellbeing Online Platform
- Workplace Contact Officer Network
- Health and safety representatives (HSRs)
- Conflict Resolution Support Service
- workplace bullying
- worker’s compensation and returning to work
- Medical Advisory Service
- principal health and wellbeing supports
- managing challenging parent/carer behaviour
- workforce diversity and inclusion.
Employee Assistance Program
The EAP is a free, short-term, and strictly confidential over-the-phone and video-counselling service that helps our employees be at their best. These sessions can be used to develop tailored strategies to help enhance wellbeing – both in and outside of work. The EAP is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for up to 4 sessions for the department's employees (and school council employees such as casual relief teachers) and is run by an independent organisation, LifeWorks. Immediate family members (aged 18 years and over) of department employees can now also access EAP.
The EAP offers:
- flexibility to choose a time and location that works for you – over the phone or face-to-face
- provision for accessing specialist counsellors for Aboriginal, LGBTIQ and family violence matters
- all counselling sessions led by a psychologist or social worker with a minimum of 5 years in practice
- the offer to speak to another counsellor if you are dissatisfied with the service.
Manager Assist – telephone advisory service for school leaders
Manager Assist is a dedicated telephone advisory service that is available to support principals, school leaders and managers. This service can provide advice and coaching on a range of issues such as approaching a difficult conversation with employees, managing challenging team dynamics, leading through uncertainty and change, supporting staff at risk and managing the impact of mental health issues within the workplace.
LifeWorks health and wellbeing online platform
The LifeWorks health and wellbeing online platform has a library of informative articles and interactive resources available to improve employee health and wellbeing. The platform has support, guidance, information and strategies to manage issues relating to family, health, life, money, and work. This resource is available to all department employees, immediate family members of department employees, and school council employees including casual relief teachers.
You can access the online platform privately and confidentially from home.
Workplace Contact Officer Network
A workplace contact officer is a member of staff who has volunteered to be a point of contact for colleagues experiencing harassment, discrimination, bullying, victimisation or family violence. Any Workplace Contact Officer can be contacted for a confidential discussion, at any time.
Health and safety representatives
Health and safety representatives (HSRs) are elected by their co-workers to represent designated workgroups (for example, a school or school campus) about OHS issues, concerns and interests.
HSRs are an important part of the department’s OHS management system. Speak to your school leadership team to find out about HSRs in your schools. For further information, please also refer to the or the chapter.
Conflict Resolution Support Service
Sometimes people experience workplace conflict that becomes difficult to resolve in their usual team setting.
The Conflict Resolution Support Service is available for department employees and managers who need support in addressing workplace conflict. The service provides mediation, case conference and facilitated meetings, conflict coaching and team conflict intervention. This service is provided by Converge International and can be arranged by your principal or manager.
Our Workplace Bullying Policy defines bullying as repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards or from an employee or group of employees that creates a risk to health, safety and wellbeing. Bullying may be either direct or indirect and can be carried out verbally, physically or in writing via email, social media, instant messaging and text messaging.
Everyone has a role to play in preventing bullying and maintaining respectful spaces where people feel safe and welcome to be at work.
Workers’ Compensation and Returning to Work
For many people, being at work is more than a job; it’s also about being part of a team or achieving a sense of satisfaction through the work that they do. Being away from work due to injury or a work-related illness can be disruptive and even distressing.
The department is committed to safely helping injured employees get back to work. There is a mutual obligation between an employee and their manager to discuss business continuity and return to work planning immediately after an injury. This can provide peace of mind that a plan is in place.
Medical Advisory Service
Advice to principals and managers on the management of staff experiencing health-related issues that impact their employment duties. The service includes referrals for independent medical assessments.
Principal Health and Wellbeing
The Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy aims to promote positive mental and physical health and wellbeing outcomes for principals across Victoria. We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our school leaders in a systemic and sustainable way. Thriving school principals can create a positive environment for teaching and learning where students, teachers and school communities can flourish.
Managing challenging parent/carer behaviour
Support is available to keep staff, students and the school community safe from unacceptable behaviour from parents, carers and other adults.
- The includes a specific chapter on managing challenging parent/carer behaviours. This includes guidance to help establish and promote respectful and safe parent and carer behaviour, prevent and de-escalate unacceptable behaviours and access support and services to restore wellbeing after an incident.
- The sets out clear guidelines on the expected standards of behaviour for parents, carers and other adults who interact with the school community to reduce the risk and incidence of aggression towards school staff.
- A helps schools raise awareness of the , which includes a poster for staff for display in staff rooms and other areas of the school, a poster for parents in English and 30+ languages, a social media template, draft newsletter content to communicate with the school community (available in multiple languages) and an email template to communicate with staff.
- The page on the DE website, provides information to support parents and carers to engage positively with school staff, including appropriate pathways for raising concerns or complaints with schools and more.
Principals and other authorised persons can issue School Community Safety Orders to prohibit or limit harmful, threatening or abusive behaviour from a parent, carer or other adult. More information can be found in the , including specific requirements that must be satisfied before issuing an order.
Workforce diversity and inclusion
The department is committed to providing workplaces that are safe, respectful and inclusive of all staff. We are building a culture that values diversity, promotes inclusion and embraces the unique skills and qualities of all staff.
Workplace reasonable adjustments allow a person to perform their job safely and productively in an inclusive and accessible environment. For further information including how to request workplace adjustments, refer to:
An inclusive and supportive environment is crucial to a person’s gender affirmation. There is support available to staff wishing to affirm their gender and their colleagues.
Workplace diversity and flexible work arrangements
The department aims for a diverse workforce, employing people from all backgrounds with different experiences. This contributes lived experience to the department’s policies, programs and initiatives so these can better meet the needs of Victorian communities. If you think a flexible work arrangement could support your work and life or family commitments, talk to your manager/principal.
Forging meaningful connections with your colleagues can help you feel engaged and integral to the organisation and provides a network to support you when challenges arise, and problems need to be solved. Likewise, you can become a key supporter to your colleagues, strengthening the professional bond and sense of trust. Go to on eduGate (staff login required).
Reviewed 20 January 2023