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Category seven – Best demonstrated leadership in work health and safety

Seqwater supply safe, sustainable and secure drinking water to the entire South East Queensland community. It was essential their operations continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the protection of their workforce was necessary. Seqwater reviewed their health and safety systems and established a COVID-19 steering committee which reviewed professionals’ recommendations about the pandemic and provided direction through:

  • Pandemic Response Plan
  • management of COVID-19 in the workplace guideline
  • online reporting form of COVID-19 positive cases/close contacts
  • leaders’ checklist for consistent messaging
  • COVID-19 FAQ page on Seqwater’s Waternet
  • HR and leave guidelines page on Seqwater’s Waternet
  • revised contractor/visitor health declaration form
  • QR check in codes at all sites
  • vehicle cleaning and occupancy guidelines
  • COVID-safe floor plans and room restrictions
  • removal of non-essential personnel from operational sites, to limit the spread of the virus.

Seqwater used a holistic approach to foster an environment where workers felt empowered and supported to take care of themselves and others.

Positive impacts following the strategies that Seqwater implemented during COVID-19 included:

  • departmental collaboration
  • hybrid work model
  • increased focus on mental health
  • culture of staying at home if unwell
  • other health strategies following the value of personal care highlighted during the pandemic (e.g. flu vaccinations, skin checks, mental health first aid)
  • external stakeholder collaboration.

Melissa Williams, GM People, Culture & Safety

Seqwater is the bulk water authority for South East Queensland. We have around 800, 850 staff and a range of contractors on top of that.

We're super proud of our COVID response. Not only did we live our values in all of our decision-making, which is really important, but we kept our people safe and by keeping our people safe, we were able to make sure that we could keep the taps on for the people of South East Queensland.

A key part of our strategy was to keep our people up-to-date and so we had a regular regime of communications. They were both via email and also via webinars with our senior executives in the company.

Some of the things that made us really successful in our COVID response was our ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, our ability to connect with our people through a variety of different formats and also our ability to not take a one-size-fits-all approach. That was really important, making sure we were looking after individual needs.

Neil Brennan, Chief Executive Officer

Foremost, care for our people is at the front for Seqwater from the board and executive down, taking that leadership aspect right to the forefront and really demonstrating that we care for our people.

Melissa Williams, GM People, Culture & Safety

By consulting with our people throughout the pandemic, we really got to understand what their individual needs were which helped make sure that we were delivering an approach that worked for them.

There were many stakeholders involved in our management of COVID, right from our board to our senior management team to our industry partners such as the unions. The COVID Steering Committee played a really important part that was a representation from across the business, helping to guide our decision-making as we made our way through what's been a really long pandemic.

We felt our culture changed throughout the pandemic at different points in time. We measured this through our culture surveys, which showed that our response to COVID was a key factor in building trust with our people and living our values.

One of the biggest things that has happened for us as a result of our approach was us embracing hybrid work and in fact, we've been recognised for our work in that space.

So that's had a long-lasting impact for us and we intend to continue doing that. That's also meant that we've embraced technology and different ways of working and different ways of communicating with our people.