ABC Use of Social Media Policy

Australia’s public broadcaster is hardly a health organisation. However I have included this policy as it is positive and promotes the use of social media within and for an organisation by its staff. And it works, with staff tweeting and other social media on both personal and station accounts.

If only other organisations could entrust their staff with the same responsibility.

The ABC Social Media Policy can be found on the ABC site or here

Western Australia Health Policy on Use of Social Media

If I was a Western Australian health employee and criticised this policy in a private email – even if I offered suggestions to improve it – I’d be in breach and put my employment at risk.

I think that sums up what a crock of a policy this is. It exists to prevent employees saying anything negative about WA Health not only on social media, but also on emails. I can only assume that an amendment will be released trying to ban spouses talking to each other if they are going to mention the Western Australian Health Department.

For what it is worth, here it is:


The purpose of this policy is to ensure that employees do not engage in online communication that is disparaging and/or discriminatory towards the WA Health and/or colleagues. Communication may include, but is not limited to emails, blogging and posts via social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Disparaging communication includes negative, adverse, inappropriate, offensive, discriminatory and abusive blogs/posts that criticises WA Health and/or colleagues in a public way.

The use of online communication via social media to post or blog disparaging comments about WA Health and/or colleagues is a breach of an employee’s duty of fidelity and good faith which will result in disciplinary action and in some cases termination of employment.


This policy applies to all staff within WA Health entities including:

• Department of Health
• Metropolitan Health Service
• WA Country Health Service


This policy covers all online communication via social media sites made by an employee, whether during work hours on a work computer, or during work hours on a personal electronic device, or outside work hours on a personal electronic device. Online communication via social media sites that is prohibited includes, but is not limited to, communication that:

• Mentions the WA Health by name, its business operations or confidential information;
• Is defamatory;
• May be construed as discriminatory or bullying;
• Bullies, harasses, discriminates or vilifies work colleagues;
• Includes abusive status updates and/or blogs that criticise work colleagues, offends others
and/or breaches their employment obligations in public ways; and
• Publicises or comments on workplace disputes.

View the WA Health Social Media Policy on the website or download.

If you have seen a social media policy from any organisation in the Australian health field please let me know

A Sample Social Media Policy

A medical blogger for twelve years and the current Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT at US Department of Health and Human Services, Dr Jacob Reider has a sample social media policy up on Google Docs

I would consider this a good starting point for any health organisation wanting to write a policy. A simple explanation of social media (not a dummies guide to the Internet as the Pharmacists policy is) and while supporting employees to use social media sets clearly the limits and expected behaviour.

A Sample Social Media Policy is on Google Docs and can be downloaded in a variety of formats or edited online.

If that fails here’s a PDF version of the Sample Social Media Policy

Social Media and Speech Pathology

Speech Pathology Australia has released a social media policy. Well not really a policy but more a…. well the document says it best

Below are a few tips to help you navigate the world of social media while maintaining your professionalism, as well as keeping your public and private lives separate

Some of these are “pinched” (adapted with acknowledgement) from the Australian Medical Association guidelines and the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists Social Media Guide.

It is not as negative as many health related social media policy documents that I have seen, but more warning practitioners to use common sense.

The policy also recognises that social media can be beneficial to the profession.

The Association is engaging online to:

• Contribute to the speech pathology and general community by sharing knowledge.

• Be visible and accessible/engaged with our audiences (members, prospective members, the media, government, other related organizations and the general public).

• Create a positive image and reputation for the organization.

• Be informed and educated about what is going on in the speech pathology, health and wider community.

Download (PDF, 150KB)

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