Schools When colleagues say they are not OK

  • By Meaghan Flack
  • This article was published more than 9 months ago.
  • 2 Oct 2023

Many of us are well versed at asking our friends and colleagues: ‘Are you OK?’ But would you know what to do if someone says ‘No’? Early in Term 2, more than 60 health and safety representatives (HSRs) from all sectors joined in a professional development session about having mental health conversations in their workplaces. This was held as part of the regular AEU HSR Network meetings that happen a few times each term. 

HSRs had the opportunity to discuss the different ways that individuals present mental health injuries and the best ways they could respond to their colleagues. Recognising psychological injuries as a workplace health and safety issue is an important part of health and safety. Educational workplaces can present many psychological hazards and having good systems in place to monitor and control hazards, as well as to support staff, is vital to ensuring a healthy workplace.

Having a HSR elected is the best starting point to ensuring a safer workplace. This term, HSRs had the opportunity to participate in a session discussing bullying as a health and safety issue. These sessions are free for union member HSRs and happen online, in the afternoons when many HSRs have the capacity to attend. 

If you are a HSR and you’re not receiving emails from me with these opportunities and more, get in touch. I can add you to the list and you can join in the growing list of union HSRs out there – [email protected].

Get ready – VTHC HSR Conference soon

Every year, Victorian Trades Hall Council hosts hundreds of health and safety reps from across Victoria at its annual HSR Conference. Elected HSRs are entitled to attend this conference as part of the employer’s obligations under section 69 of the OH&S Act.

HSRs must give at least 14 days’ notice of their intent to attend the conference, but I always recommend that HSRs give as much notice as they can, particularly as many of our workplaces are managing staffing shortages.

The conference will be held in Melbourne and there will be regional conferences happening in Wodonga, Bendigo, Portland and Morwell. Last year, the theme for the conference was Psychological Safety at Work. This proved to be so popular that they are repeating it this year. 

VTHC has not opened the registrations yet, but I will forward this to HSRs as soon as it is released. Book quickly! It would be great to have a large group of AEU representatives there. HSRs can contact me directly with any queries.

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