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April 19: Health and Wellbeing

By Leaders Forum 2017 participant Helen Swadling


The Leaders Forum health and wellbeing program day was packed full of information from some very influential leaders who were happy to share their leadership skills with us.

Ballarat Health Services' Keren Day and Carolyn Robertson (Leaders Forum alumni) and Fiona Brew and Leanne Shea (current participants) shared how they’ve embraced change and contributed to some massive changes within their organisation. They have helped shape the new culture within BHS and take the motto that “when things don’t go to plan, learn”. Keren said undertaking last year’s Leaders Forum program “helped identify her strengths, to own who I am”. It was interesting to note that BHS currently employs around 4500 people, which is 10 per cent of Ballarat’s workforce.

We were then joined by BHS CEO Dale Fraser, who strongly believes “what you say is as important as what you do”. Dale said the health service was a people service and looking after your employees’ welfare was really important. “What are you doing to be the best healthiest version of you?,” Dale asked us. “Be the leader who leaves a legacy behind”. He also stressed that personal development was as important as professional development but was often overlooked.

While at the hospital, we toured BRICC (Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre). What an amazing place - on one hand, very sad but, on the other hand, so very amazing (I know I’ve already used that word but it is). The leaps and bounds that technology has come in the radiation field is astounding. The chemotherapy room is an eye-opener too, with nurses and doctors being able to overlook every patient with a sweeping glance. The fact BRICC was set up with input from cancer patients is one of the reasons it’s so well thought-out. BRICC’s wellness centre relies on community fundraising, so if you see a fundraiser being held for this very worthy cause, please support it. The centre provides a safe place for both the patient and the patient’s family - a place to catch their breath.

In the afternoon, we headed to Ballarat Community Health’s new Lucas facility. Katherine Gillespie from Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership spoke of how to lead and encourage collaboration in a competitive environment and the process of deciding on a key priority for the region. “We don’t deliver health services - we influence and help implement change,” Katherine said. We were then given a rundown on Ballarat Community Health and its expertly designed, award-winning facility.

Community participation in the health service is extremely important to both improvement and governance. The community is intrinsic to getting good co-design in the sector. Ballarat needs community input to help shape change. As the Ballarat region has areas of social disadvantage, we need to work at preventing health issues.

The underlying theme of the day was real people, the human story, and how it impacts the community. Everything you do eventually affects another person.