Mock trial highlights workplace violence

Article image - Mock trial highlights workplace violence The mock trial underway.

As part of October’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Month, the City of Boroondara in Victoria staged a courtroom trial to highlight the importance of taking violence in the workplace seriously.

The case centred around a Council worker being hurt in a confrontation with a resident – a potentially real scenario designed to resonate with the audience.

Further developments gave complexity to the case, and the jury – 100 good men and women of Boroondara’s leadership group – were asked to consider questions of accountability, ownership and consequence.

Council acted as the defendant and the judge, prosecution and courtroom attendants were played by lawyers from Sparke Helmore, which lent an air of authenticity to the proceedings.

The trial was a creative and thought-provoking way to get Boroondara’s leadership group to think about proactively managing hazards and creating a safe work environment.

As the trial played out, questions around risk management were posed to the leadership group: What might occupational violence look like in your part of the organisation? What does risk management mean for you and your team? How well are you currently implementing, monitoring and reviewing process?

The trial was also filmed and shared with all employees to show that safety and occupational violence is being taken seriously at
the highest level.

The message that accompanied the cascade communication was: “You have permission to speak up – if you see a better way to do something, tell your manager or the health, safety and wellbeing team.”

The Health Safety & Wellbeing (HSW) team, who coordinated the event, received only positive feedback, for example: “This was a fabulous learning concept. Everyone was glued to the proceedings for the whole time, and it was enormously
successful.”

The mock trial was one of a suite of activities bringing the council’s OHS Strategic Plan 2015-18 to life.