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About the award

The People and Culture Award recognises teams who develop and support our people and culture and ensure a safe and healthy environment for patients and staff.

Initiatives within this category will show support for people within NSW Health by:

  • working collaboratively within the NSW Health system to improve health outcomes
  • growing and supporting a skilled workforce by hiring and developing the right people, with the right skills, at the right time
  • developing effective health professional managers and leaders
  • improved systems and efficiencies to support better workplace safety and health outcomes
  • ownership and adoption of workplace health and safety practices
  • support for long-term behaviour change to strengthen the staff health and safety culture
  • increased awareness of the importance of personal safety alongside patient safety
  • enhanced access and training in workplace health and safety
  • fostering a culture that reflects NSW Health CORE values and respects diversity.

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Winner - Words Matter

Mid North Coast Local Health District

Transcript: Words Matter

Patient-centred care that is trauma-informed is increasingly recognised as an approach that improves patient experience (Wilson et al., 2020).

Language is an integral component of integrating peer support workers and staff with lived experience into a team to reduce stigma, provide a safe work environment and improve collaboration.

The goal was established to improve staff awareness and knowledge regarding the impact of our words and how they reflect our attitudes. All the while bringing it in line with a patient-centred, recovery focused and trauma-informed approach.

The program, Words Matter Wednesday, was introduced to facilitate discussion about alternative non-judgemental words that are used during general conversations, written notes and in handover. Especially, when describing patients and within the multi-disciplinary team to ensure respectful and dignified communication.

Additionally, the program saw the establishment of a Thankyou Tree. A place staff can write positive words to each other.

The ward culture was improved by connecting all disciplines and reducing patients being defined by their illness.

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Finalist - Critical workforce agility in rural healthcare

Murrumbidgee Local Health District

Transcript: Critical workforce agility in rural healthcare

Across our health system, the delivery of exceptional healthcare and equitable access in rural and remote populations is challenged by a shortage of a skilled and engaged workforce.

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) 2021-2026 Strategic Direction; Workforce at its Best, recognises that dedicated staff play a vital role in delivery of exceptional healthcare.

The NSW Health Future Health Strategic Outcome 4 emphasises that ‘our staff are engaged and well supported’, with the key objective to ‘attract and retain skilled people who put patients first’. This emboldens MLHD strategies.

The Critical Workforce Taskforce and Sub-taskforce was established in response to increasing critical vacancies and the corresponding pressure on our operational managers.

The task force is made up of People and Culture specialists, with links to professional advisors. The Taskforce's role is to develop short-term strategies to attract and manage new workforce pipelines, advance recruitment, and facilitate onboarding, and offer dedicated recruitment support to managers.

The key outcome of the Taskforce is to source and place nurses and midwives to the critical vacancies across the district.

The Taskforce has enabled responses to strengthen approaches to marketing and attraction, as well as recruitment and onboarding. This also includes augmenting alternative workforce supplies to address the workforce shortage across the district.

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The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network


PEMPOWERHOUR is a learner-centred, interprofessional educational program at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) emergency department (ED). It is characterised by structured, time-protected lessons and a co-designed curriculum leveraging the wealth of in-house knowledge from interprofessional experts native to CHW ED.

PEMPOWERHOUR’s instructional design integrates the contemporary educational model of Cognitive Load Theory, which provides strategies to optimise teaching content and create conducive learning environments within complex healthcare settings.

PEMPOWERHOUR was successfully trialled for one year between February 2021 – 2022, with an average 9.6/10 rating by paediatric trainees rotating through CHW ED.

All trainees found the curriculum accessible, beneficial for their professional development, and felt their learning needs were valued.

PEMPOWERHOUR is now a permanent learning platform within CHW implemented without fiscal costs to the ED.

PEMPOWERHOUR’s innovative educational model not only empowers trainees with evidence-based paediatric emergency medicine knowledge, skills, and attitudes to better care for children with acute or life-threatening illnesses, but also promotes a culture of learning and collaboration.

Congruent with the NSW Health Planning Strategic framework, it supports the clinical workforce by developing the right skills, in the right people, at the right time and ensuring world-class clinical care by developing and supporting people and culture.

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Current as at: Thursday 1 December 2022
Contact page owner: NSW Health