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Flexible is the way forward

Aged care providers recognised for their innovative workplace arrangements.

Three leading Victorian aged care providers have been recognised by the state government for providing progressive and family-friendly working conditions.

Benetas, Villa Maria and Mercy Health were among a group of 20 organisations to be named a ‘2010 Fair and Flexible Employer’ by the Victorian Government’s Working Families Council.

Benetas CEO Sandra Hills said she was thrilled with the award.

“This is a wonderful accolade that reflects our dedication to investing in progressive workplace practices and family friendly working conditions for our staff.

“Benetas understands the need to be a fair and flexible employer because really, it’s our workforce that provides us with our competitive edge,” Hills said.

Some of the options Benetas offers staff include flexible start and finish times, 48/52 leave arrangements, job-sharing, part-time work and working from home arrangements. There is also a ‘Stay in touch’ program for staff on parental leave, a leadership development program for managers and a mentoring program.

Hills said Benetas was also proud to participate in the ‘Bringing Nurses Back to the Workforce’ program. “We also support our staff to apply for the Postgraduate Community Aged Care Nursing Scholarship Scheme and have developed a traineeship program that has provided around 100 women with opportunities for further career development.

“We’re pleased to offer an internal scholarship program that provides financial assistance to staff to support learning and development opportunities in a work related area and up to three months study leave,” Hills said.

Likewise, Villa Maria CEO Valerie Lyons said she was “extremely proud” to be one of 20 Victorian organisations to take out the award, and one of seven to be recognised in both 2009 and 2010.

“Villa Maria has long understood the need to create a supportive and innovative workplace for our 950 staff through arrangements including 48/52 leave arrangements, job sharing, learning and development opportunities and flexible start and finish times.

“We are proud that we continually work towards being an employer of choice, and have a passionate Equal Employment Opportunity Committee dedicated to promoting diversity and equality across the workplace,” Lyons said.

An example of this, said Lyons, was the introduction this year of free child care and aged care referral services, which help staff find appropriate care for their child, or with arranging community support or residential care for an ageing relative.

Lyons said Villa Maria was constantly looking to further its commitment to being a fair and flexible workplace with future initiatives to be introduced including a ‘Stay in Touch’ maternity leave initiative that allows staff to keep their work relationship alive while on leave to make the transition back to work more supported and comfortable, breast feeding facilities, and new parent/expectant parent kits.

Victorian Industrial Relations Minister Martin Pakula presented the awards at a special ceremony in Melbourne recently.

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