Within a single week in March this year, over 95% of the VEC workforce transitioned to working remotely in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
To support the transition, a working group was established with representatives from across the organisation, focusing on business continuity, safe work practices and staff communication and support. The Information Technology Branch worked swiftly to enable staff to stay connected and work securely from home.
Policies and procedures were developed in line with Victorian and Federal Government advice to ensure COVIDSafe standards were maintained at work sites and when interacting with stakeholders, staff and visitors. Additional measures were also implemented to manage any potential outbreak or contact with a coronavirus (COVID-19) positive case.
‘Wellness Wednesday’ events and regular health and safety communications were delivered via the VEC’s new Microsoft Office 365 operating system, to promote staff wellbeing and connectedness in the new working environment. These communications are ongoing.
Many of our face-to-face services for the local council elections moved online, including election official training, community education and candidate information sessions. Several public hearings for representation and subdivision reviews also moved online. This rapid innovation means the VEC is change ready and equipped to conduct general elections, by-elections, countbacks, commercial elections and polls under future restrictions, if required.
The VEC developed a comprehensive COVIDSafe Election Plan to ensure the safety of all participants. The Plan established safety measures for election operations in all VEC premises, including head office and the 76 council election offices. Onsite attendance was strictly limited, and separate working zones were established to minimise the movement of people in head office.
The VEC continues to work to enhance its response to the pandemic, prioritising staff safety and wellbeing and the successful delivery of core services to stakeholders.