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Verbal, physical assaults have no place at work

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I’m pleased to take over, at least for the moment, as Chair of the AMA Council of Salaried Doctors from Dr Stephen Parnis, who continues to advocate tirelessly for doctors as Vice President of the Australian Medical Association. I congratulate him on his appointment.

It is great to have a committed salaried doctor in the Vice President’s position, and we should all be proud and pleased with his appointment.

The AMACSD has a busy agenda every year and does great work. We need to ensure that our voice is heard within the AMA, and the profession as a whole.

The CSD will be meeting in October to discuss a range of issues vital for salaried doctors.

Among the topics for discussion will be the personal safety and privacy of doctors.

The AMA is working on a review of its Position Statement Personal Safety and Privacy for Doctors – 2005. It has already been reviewed by the CSD and the AMA Council of Doctors in Training and, based on the comments of those committees, it is being considered by the Federal AMA for further review. It is a vital issue which deserves our attention and input given that salaried doctors are facing an increase in issues around safety and privacy.

We have all been in situations where our security has been compromised in some way. We know that prevention is better than cure, and having sound, workable policies in place helps to mitigate risks. In developing a revised Position Statement, we aim to go further and cover such issues as managing risk, personal protection, the role of security staff, protecting personal privacy, education and training and bullying.

Bullying is an area that is particularly topical at the moment. Most of you will be aware that from 1 January this year, changes to the Fair Work Act were implemented providing protection for workers who reasonably believe they have been bullied at work. These new laws are relevant to national system employees only, and apply to those working in hospitals in Victoria, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

However, even where these laws do not apply, hospitals have policies in place to address bullying and harassment, and workplace awards and agreements may also address bullying. Occupational health and safety and anti- discrimination legislation may also apply where bullying involves harassment or discrimination based on a personal characteristic such as race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, religious beliefs, disability or age.

Apart from this, the Victorian Government has amended its Crimes Act to address the issue of serious bullying. Under the changes, employers must ensure that employees can work in a safe environment that is free from risk, including bullying. It is a complicated area, and one which merits our attention.

I’m very pleased to be working with you all and look forward to discussing the issues important to salaried doctors in the months to come.

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