June 9, 2021

Michelle Fenwick: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

To achieve our overall vision of ‘A healthier community, making a difference for every person, every day’, we require a workforce that reflects the Australian community we serve and a workplace which is inclusive and empowers everyone to contribute their best.

At the end of last year, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee finalised Northern Health’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2020-24 which I am pleased to present to you today.

The plan outlines our commitment to our staff and the northern community, breaking down barriers that stop individuals from feeling fully included.

Our focus is on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, people with disabilities and LGBTIQA+ communities. It outlines our commitment to our staff – We are committed to providing a positive and safe workplace where inclusion is a priority and diversity is celebrated. We are committed to providing employees, patients, volunteers, contractors and visitors with a diverse, inclusive and safe environment. 

Our journey began in 2018, and, since then, we’ve increased the diversity of our workforce and have worked towards ensuring we are a safe and inclusive workplace. Some of the key achievements include developing diversity awareness training for all staff, holding Refugee and Asylum Seeker study days, celebrating International Day of Persons with a Disability, participating in PRIDE and launching the Northern Health Reconciliation Action Plan.

A workplace that is respectful, courteous, and fair and that values individual differences is a core aspect of building a positive workplace culture. When we treat everyone equally, we treat everyone the same, but when we treat everyone equitably, we focus on individualistic needs. In a diverse workplace, differences exist, and people require support in different ways.

Equity acknowledges everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities, while diversity is central to innovation and brings forth new and better ways of doing things, it helps us to harness the benefits of technology and improve the efficiency and quality of our services. Inclusion is the key to unlocking this potential.

When we value workplace diversity and inclusion, we see benefits such as higher employee engagement, improved performance, greater innovation, retention of talent, improved employee wellbeing and lower levels of unlawful behaviour such as harassment and discrimination.

When we talk about diversity at Northern Health, we recognise and celebrate the many people who use and deliver our services and the different characteristics, backgrounds, abilities, beliefs and needs all create unique opportunities and challenges.

However, it is not enough to acknowledge and celebrate diversity. When we talk about inclusion, we are committing to work with this diversity, creating an open, respectful culture and directly involving people at all stages of their health care. Our goal is to reflect the diverse community we serve and create a workplace where everyone feels included.

We will embrace the individual skills, experiences and perspectives that our staff bring and harness these to deliver an improved patient experience and service delivery. Creating this is everyone’s responsibility and we invite you to actively participate in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as a member of one of the five sub-committees or as a Champion.

If you wish to be involved in this work, please complete this short survey and our team will get in touch with you.

Michelle Fenwick
Executive Director, People and Culture