The impressive program of work delivered by the VHA over the past 12 months is a direct result of the increased level of engagement with members across the state. This has been achieved by improving and expanding communication channels and broadening connections across the sector.
Members have been actively involved through special interest groups, sector forums and roundtables as well as professional development courses and thought leadership events. The move to remote working provided an opportunity for the VHA to re-engineer its events and engagement activities to increase the frequency of regular working sessions with a focus on topics of most interest to members.
The shift to remote working also resulted in a new model of consultation for the VHA with key sessions, including the Mental Health Sector Forums, moving to online delivery. The widespread adoption of videoconferencing facilities allowed the VHA to gain a more comprehensive understanding of sector issues and consult with a wider range of sector representatives in a shorter space of time; delivering improved submissions.
The annual conference included a number of notable presentations, including exploring change with former police commissioner Christine Nixon, as well as a ‘World Café’ where members had the opportunity to learn more about VHA corporate partners. Other highlights included Professor Gordian Fulde AO exploring ways to achieve better health outcomes in the future; Dr Bruce Bolam, DHHS, Professor Terry Nolan, University of Melbourne, Dr Sandro Demaio, VicHealth and Dr Lisa Studdert, Department of Health exploring the power of prevention and drivers to disrupt the health landscape; and Renae O’Brien’s war on waste innovation in the health system.
While some events, such as the new thought leadership series, were paused due to COVID-19, they have emerged in different ways and developed a life of their own.
Another example of the increased engagement of members is the introduction of a regular virtual meeting of executives from community health services. The VHA continued to facilitate these and provide opportunities for sector leaders to learn from each other and hear from key people within government departments.
The VHA’s digital offering was revitalised in late 2019, with the re-launch of the VHA Update, the organisation’s fortnightly e-newsletter and vha.org.au. Both continue to be a popular source of information for the health sector, while social media channels continue to provide daily updates. The VHA’s widespread use of digital channels supported its response to COVID-19 and allowed the development of the popular COVID-19 wrap-up.
As part of the growth strategy, the VHA undertook an extensive review of partnerships to ensure they deliver maximum value and better outcomes for members. During 2019/20, the VHA has worked with multiple partners who have not only delivered discounts on products and services for members but also helped create important education events and resources.
While traditional partnerships have been extended, the VHA has also formed new in-kind partnerships with organisations such as Pinchapoo, delivering essential items to those in need during the bushfires and pandemic.
The VHA has also extended its media relationships with the Chief Executive representing the sector on a range of issues across radio, print and television. As part of the VHA’s media strategy, the team continues to work closely with members to provide opportunities for coverage of key programs and to involve them in developing a response on key media issues.
The overall combination of new and improved communication channels, digital events, strategic partnerships and media coverage continues to raise the profile of the work of the sector and support information sharing between members.