The Victorian Government has established the Healthcare Worker Infection Prevention and Wellbeing Taskforce (the Taskforce) to support and improve the safety and wellbeing of healthcare workers who care for our community.

The Taskforce is made up of experts and stakeholders from the Victorian Government as well as the health, primary care and aged care sectors. It also includes sector experts in worker wellbeing, infection prevention and occupational health and safety. 

For its work, the Taskforce defines healthcare workers as all health and care professionals working in the health and aged care industries. This includes registered health practitioners, other health practitioners, diagnostic and ancillary staff.

The Taskforce, established on 10 August 2020, meets on a fortnightly basis and is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Safer Care Victoria.

What does the Taskforce do?

The Taskforce provides specialist advice to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) cases among healthcare workers and to improve their emotional and physical wellbeing.

The Taskforce’s key activities include:

  • developing and implementing a coordinated strategy to manage, reduce and prevent healthcare worker infections
  • developing evidence-informed standards for good practice across health services on infection prevention, worker wellbeing and staff availability
  • informing the collection, collation and distribution of data and intelligence on healthcare worker infections, worker wellbeing and staff availability
  • advising on communication and engagement with healthcare workers 
  • sharing information and engaging across the health and aged care sectors
  • referring policy decisions to DHHS for consideration and further advice, as needed.

Actions

Based on the Taskforce’s advice, DHHS has committed to a range of actions to keep healthcare workers safe and well. You can find out more about these actions in Protecting our healthcare workers:

Sharing of data 

Greater access to data about healthcare worker infections and the routine sharing of lessons from outbreaks will enable us to better track the spread of the virus. It will also build confidence in the steps being taken to reduce healthcare worker cases. 

We are now publishing data with greater detail, including how many and what kind of healthcare workers are contracting coronavirus (COVID-19), and where they are contracting it. You can find this at the Victorian healthcare worker coronavirus (COVID-19) data page

Victoria’s Respiratory Protection Program

The Victorian Respiratory Protection Program has been developed to support health services implement a respiratory protection program across the Victorian health system. You can find more information in Protecting our healthcare workers:

The Victorian Respiratory Protection Program guidelines (Word) provide guidance on how to introduce a Respiratory Protection Program to minimise healthcare worker exposure to respiratory hazards.

Best Practice Approaches for Safe Staff Amenities 

The Best Practice Approaches for Safe Staff Amenities guidance is designed to assist health services to provide safe communal spaces and amenities for staff. The guidance describes practices and procedures which are considered effective in reducing coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the workplace using the WorkSafe Victoria hierarchy of controls.

Taskforce membership

  • Chair: Professor Andrew Wilson, Chief Medical Officer, Safer Care Victoria.  
  • A/Prof Alan Eade, Chief Paramedic Officer, Safer Care Victoria  
  • Andrew Hewat, Assistant Secretary, Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association  
  • A/Prof. Ann Maree Keenan, A/Chief Executive Officer, Safer Care Victoria  
  • Ben Fielding, Deputy Secretary, Health and Wellbeing 
  • Professor Brendan Crotty, Victorian Doctors Health Program  
  • Professor Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer, DHHS  
  • Brynn Lewin, Manager, Occupational Therapy, Austin Health   
  • Dr Cameron Loy, Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners   
  • Dr Cate Kelly, Executive Director, Clinical Governance and Medical Services, The Royal Melbourne Hospital  
  • Cherylynn McGurgan, Consumer Representative, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Royal Melbourne Hospital  
  • Danny Hill, Victorian Ambulance Workers Union  
  • David Clarke, CEO, Australian Institute of Health and Safety  
  • David Eden, Health Workers Union  
  • Professor David Watters AM OBE, Chair, Victorian Perioperative Consultative Council
  • A/Prof. Donna Markham, Chief Allied Health Officer, Safer Care Victoria  
  • Professor Eugene Athan, Director, Infectious Diseases, Barwon Health  
  • A/Prof. Jane Munro, Head, Rheumatology, Royal Children’s Hospital   
  • A/Prof. Julian Rait, President, Australian Medical Association Victoria   
  • Kerry Power, Group Manager, Ambulance Victoria   
  • A/Prof. Lisa Clinnick, Director Aged Care Services, Ballarat Health Services  
  • Lisa Fitzpatrick, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation  
  • Prof. Malcolm Sim, President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 
  • Dr Margaret Grigg, CEO, Forensicare   
  • Maria Flynn, Executive Director Nursing & Allied Health and Chief Nursing Officer, Royal Children’s Hospital  
  • Dr Marion Kainer, Head, Infectious Diseases, Western Health   
  • A/Prof. Michelle Giles, Director, Infections in Pregnancy Service, Monash Health   
  • Dr Natassia Goode, Manager, Health Care and Social Assistance Programs   
  • Dr Nick Coatsworth, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Commonwealth Department of Health
  • Paul Healy, State Secretary, Health and Community Services Union (HACSU)  
  • Paula Stephenson, Executive Director Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer, Epworth HealthCare  
  • Pauline Bass, Nurse Manager, Infection Prevention, Alfred Health   
  • Peter Breadon, Senior Executive Director, Health and Wellbeing, DHHS  
  • Peter Elliott, Secretary, Medical Scientists Association  
  • Dr Rhonda Stuart, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, Monash Health  
  • Dr Sue Matthews, CEO, Royal Women’s Hospital  
  • Dr Suzi Nou, President, Australian Society of Anaesthetists   
  • Professor Tanya Farrell, A/Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Safer Care Victoria  
  • Terry Symonds, Deputy Secretary, Health and Wellbeing, DHHS  
  • Representative from Safer Care Victoria