Contact Officer: Refresher

Purpose

This practical course will give existing Contact Officers an opportunity to rein-force their understanding of the role, as well as the knowledge and skills to carry it out, and to discuss and troubleshoot any issues they have come across as Contact Officers.

This course aims to refresh Contact Officers' understanding of workplace policies and legislation around discrimination and harassment, revisit workplace procedures for dealing with these behaviours, and practice conveying this information to colleagues, helping them decide how to deal with problems they are experiencing.

Delivery

This face-to-face session is highly interactive with a variety of visual and small group activities, and time for questions and discussion. Activities focus on the practical aspects of the Contact Officer role and issues Contact Officers may have experienced; on workplace policies and procedures; and on real case scenarios to help participants understand the relevant legal concepts.

Contact Officers are often the first port of call for staff experiencing bullying or harassment.

What do Contact Officers do?

Their role is not to resolve or investigate issues, but to:

  • Give staff an opportunity to talk informally about a problem;
  • Provide information about the options available to resolve the issue; and
  • Help staff decide what course of action to take.

The quality of the Contact Officer service can often determine whether workplace issues escalate, or are resolved quickly and effectively. They need to be level-headed, good communicators, understand their role, impartiality and confidentiality, and be capable of working within the limitations of the role.

How can they reduce risk for an organisation?

Trained Contact Officers are an important part of an effective system for dealing with complaints of inappropriate behaviour. Employers may be held liable for employees' behaviour, unless they can show they took 'reasonable steps' to prevent and manage it. Along with effective policies, complaints procedures and training, appointing Contact Officers is one of the steps employers can take to support their commitment to a safe and productive workplace where all are treated fairly and with respect.

This course will enable participants to:

  • Provide appropriate Contact Officer services, using communication and active listening skills, and dealing with issues of confidentiality, duty of care, impartiality and vicarious liability;
  • Identify behaviours that could be unlawful or in breach of policy, such as sexual harassment, workplace harassment (bullying) or discrimination.
  • Explain organisational policies and procedures relating to harassment and discrimination, and the options available to staff for resolving issues;
  • Assist staff in clarifying their concerns, provide relevant information and help them decide what action to take to try and resolve their issue;
  • Provide appropriate information to management or H.R. personnel on the incidence of discrimination and harassment in their workplace;
  • Recognise potential impacts of discrimination and harassment on individuals and the organisation;
  • Assist in promoting relevant workplace policies;
  • Identify the different roles and responsibilities of Contact Officers and managers/supervisors; and
  •  Participate as part of a Contact Officer network.

Pre-requisites:

Participants must have previously completed the full day Contact Officer course.

Pre-course preparation:

We recommend that participants review their existing organizational policies and complaints procedures relating to discrimination and harassment prior to the course, and bring copies to use in course activities.