April 19, 2021

Safety first for Graham Wilson

This week, we caught up with Northern Health’s new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Director, Graham Wilson.

What’s your coffee order?

A double espresso. I’m a coffee nerd and I will do pour over at home in the morning. I grind my own beans. I have an absolute ritual of how I make coffee in the morning but if I go out for coffee, it’s a double espresso.

Tell us about your Northern Health journey.

I am the Director of OHS and I have been here nine weeks. At the end of week one, COVID-19 made a resurgence and I got thrown in the deep end with my People and Culture colleagues to deal with that. It was a stressful and unusual time but a great way to see Northern Health in action. It’s been all about getting to meet people and understand what’s happening here, understanding the work, understanding the structure of how things are done, understanding our health and safety systems, meeting some of the health and safety representatives and at the same time meeting managers. I am having a good time.

What does a typical day look like for you?

At this stage, a lot of it is spending time with my team, understanding what they are doing, understanding the things they have got on their plates and trying to deal with some of the more difficult issues that they might be facing. The critical things are doing daily triage where we look at all the OHS incidents that come in throughout the day and work out what needs to be done on each of those issues. That’s the most critical part of my day. There are always things happening in health and safety. You have to be prepared for something to happen.

What is your greatest achievement or favourite memory since you began working here?

Something that I am really pleased about is seeing occupational violence training become mandatory for all staff.

What was your career before Northern Health?

I’ve pretty much always been in health and safety. My first real OHS position was as a Union Health and Safety Officer. I was with Victoria Police for about eight years and specialised in occupational stress and operational OHS. I then did operational OHS at the Department of Education and ran a large team of OHS consultants. While it’s smaller here, it’s nice to be somewhere where you feel like you are having more of an influence and are able to make an impact and see how you can get success. Coming from such big organisations, it’s nice to see a more personal, involved leadership and staff. Everyone seems more positively involved with each other.

What do you enjoy most about being at Northern Health?

For me at the moment, it’s learning a new place, and not being from the health sector, it’s really fascinating to see how health and safety operates here and seeing the alignments between the health and safety work I have done previously in big government organisations and seeing how that applies here. From a personal point of view, I think being able to feel like I am fitting in with everybody. It feels like a good cultural fit for me. I’m really enjoying the culture here and really enjoying getting to know people.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

I used to officiate American football and have done international games and Australian and Victorian championship games.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am a very serious home chef. I spend a lot of time cooking. My partner Nicole works in the wine industry, she is a wine educator and I am a big whiskey collector. We are lucky enough to have a good wine and whiskey collection at home, so we spend a lot of time, responsibly going through that collection or visiting wine regions or distilleries. I think over the past seven years, I’ve tried close to 2000 different whiskies.

If you could describe Northern Health in one sentence what would it be?

The three values really apply here. Often I see organisations with this big long list of complex values. It might be a value statement or you might have multiple value statements that you are trying to get your head around. With safe, kind, together, I actually see them in action and that’s really positive for a new staff member to see when they are coming into a new workplace, that they can see the values replicated and lived.