East Gippsland Shire Council has moved to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of its staff, with a campaign calling out disrespectful behaviour and abuse by members of the community.
Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said the development of an advertisement – appearing in local newspapers for two weeks – is part of Council’s ongoing commitment to providing a work environment free of abuse for staff members.
“Last year, we adopted our Mutual Respect Charter – a very important piece of policy which emphasises the importance of mutual respect between our staff, councillors and customers,” Cr Reeves said.
“We want to bring that strategy back into the forefront of everyone’s mind and reiterate its principles of mutual respect, cooperation and a safe and respectful workplace. We are committed to being accessible and responsive to the community and aim to provide clear guidance for customers and staff throughout the complaints process.”
The advertisement – which features East Gippsland Shire Council CEO Anthony Basford and staff outside the Corporate Centre in Bairnsdale – targets verbal and physical abuse, threats and disrespectful behaviours as unacceptable conduct which can have a major impact on Council staff.
Mr Basford said reiterating the stance on customer behaviour was needed as Council has a duty of care to ensure its staff are safe at work.
“I understand that sometimes people will disagree with a decision of Council or how services are provided and to what level, but this doesn’t excuse disrespectful and poor behaviour from people,” Mr Basford said.
“Our staff do their best to respond to queries and complaints in a timely, respectful manner and it’s important to remember that they’re part of the community, too.”
Mr Basford said it’s about respecting each other.
“As a community, we’ve experienced extreme stresses over the past few years, some individuals more so than others, but this doesn’t give anyone any right to mistreat another person,” he said.
“Our staff are your neighbours, volunteers, patrons of local businesses, parents of children who go to local schools. While people have the right to complain, our staff also have a right to physical and emotional wellbeing, a safe and healthy working environment, and respect.”
Read more about our Mutual Respect Charter.