Friday, February 23, 2024

Hepburn council issues zero-tolerance message as staff abuse escalates

Victoria’s Hepburn Shire Council says it is deeply concerned about aggressive behaviour being directed at Council staff, which it says has reached “unprecedented levels” in the Shire.

In a public statement on its website, the Council said: “In response to the escalation in poor behaviour, Council wishes to remind community members that respectful behaviour is non-negotiable.”

Council Chief Executive Officer, Bradley Thomas said that several recent incidents have highlighted the lack of respect shown towards Council staff.

“While the vast majority of our community are respectful and behave appropriately, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of incidents of occupational violence occurring towards our staff,” Mr Thomas said.

“Staff are regularly feeling intimidated after being approached in the street or in other public places, like the supermarket, and verbally abused, sometimes shouted or sworn at.

“We acknowledge that we don’t always get things right and sometimes mistakes are made, but that does not excuse poor behaviour towards staff.  If we get things wrong, let us know in a respectful way through the many mechanisms available and we’ll do what we can to put things right,” he said.

Mayor, Brian Hood reinforced the message, saying that Council staff, and councillors, are entitled to have a safe workplace.

“Verbal abuse and threatening behaviour is simply not acceptable, and that includes cowardly online abuse,” the Mayor said.

“Council has well-established complaint handling procedures, so if community members have a complaint, they must raise it through the appropriate channels.

“Council will do everything within its powers to protect its staff and Councillors. We will not tolerate aggressive, abusive or threatening behaviour.”

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