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

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)

South Australia Health Social Media Policy

SA Health LogoSouth Australia has a social media presence. It is on Twitter as @SAHealth, a presence on YouTube SA Health – Australia and Facebook.

The 35 videos on You Tube have no description for search engines to look at and as a consequence none have been watched more than 60 times.

SA Health also uses Twitter. But only to broadcast. Not to engage. There is a small amount of interaction on Facebook.

But it does have a social media policy (or bottom of the post). But they are not guidelines for staff. But mainly on how SA Health uses Twitter. It mentions and links to YouTube, but only a facebook button on the policy page.


As part of account maintenance and monitoring, SA Health regularly reviews accounts it is following. This may result in unfollowing accounts.

Well duh.

So no policy on staff usage, no official encouragement. Only guidelines on how the official SA Health twitter account is run. Go read their policy if you wish to be both bored and frustrated at the waste of an opportunity.

Click to visit other health based social media policies.

If you see any social media policies by bodies or organisations involved in Australian Healthcare please send them to me.

SA Health social media policy
Terms and conditions of use (updated 20th Oct 2011)

SA Health uses social media for the distribution of health information, alerts, news and event updates. In certain circumstances, (for example State emergencies), SA Health may also use social media to inform the public and its stakeholders directly with information updates.

SA Health currently operates the following social media accounts:

@SAHealth – a Twitter account for South Australian public health sector information including health alerts, careers, health tips, news and events

SAHealthAustralia – a YouTube channel for South Australian public health sector information delivered in video format.
Content management

The SA Health social media sites are managed by the Communication Branch in the Policy, Governance and Executive Services Division.

If you join or follow a SA Health social media account you can expect approximately 5 updates per week.

SA Health also utilises other information channels and does not solely release news and announcements via social media.


SA Health updates and monitors its social media sites during office hours, 8:30 am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

The social media sites used by SA Health may occasionally be unavailable and we accept no responsibility for lack of service due to their downtime.


SA Health does not automatically follow organisations or individuals who follow it.

SA Health may follow relevant organisations including government agencies, health sector organisations and other parties where there is a clear link in communicating and receiving health information.

SA Health will not follow individuals unless they are known in a professional capacity and satisfy the above criteria. Being followed by SA Health does not imply endorsement of any kind.

Comments, @Replies and Direct Messages

SA Health welcomes feedback and ideas from its followers.

SA Health reads all comments, @replies and Direct Messages and ensures that any emerging themes or helpful suggestions are forwarded to the relevant people in the organisation.

SA Health is not able to reply individually to all messages received and where common topics and requests exist, SA Health may issue a general notification to all parties.

SA Health does not engage on issues of State or Federal politics nor provide individual health and medical advice.

In an emergency call 000

If you are unwell see your local GP or call Health Direct on 1800 022 222

The usual ways of contacting SA Health for official correspondence are detailed in the Contact Us section of the SA Health website .


SA Health actively seeks opportunities to re-tweet content that contributes to the dissemination and exchange of useful information about health and related topics.

SA Health may occasionally be asked to re-tweet content from other Twitter users. It will consider these requests on a case by case basis but generally aims to honour such requests from:

Other government departments
Recognised stakeholders, and
Non-profit organisations (NGOs).

In line with SA Government advertising policy SA Health will generally not re-tweet content from profit-making organisations.


In the interest of organising our followers into meaningful categories and providing stakeholders and the public with useful industry and topic information, SA Health may create publicly viewable lists of organisations following its sites.

Inclusion on lists does not imply endorsement of any kind.

Should an organisation not wish to be included on a list created SA Health, it may request to be removed from the list by sending a direct message to the relevant account.


As part of account maintenance and monitoring, SA Health regularly reviews accounts it is following. This may result in unfollowing accounts.

Hashtags (#)

It is a convention among Twitter users to distinguish content using semantic tags (keywords), preceded by a # sign. This enables users to search and filter information based on keywords and share information more meaningfully. Hashtags also allow users to quickly identify ‘trending’ topics (as displayed on the Twitter.com homepage).

SA Health will use hashtags when:

Identifying public health services such as hospitals and key health topics
Identifying key staff such as the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive
Providing live coverage of events
Providing State emergency communications using agreed hashtags through appropriately authorised staff.

Link shortening

Unless they are already very short, URLs will be shortened using commonly used link compressing services.


SA Health captures and stores records of comments posted to our social media sites for records management purposes.

SA Health does not capture or record the contact details of parties following its social media sites. Any information identified or deemed confidential or private is treated in accordance with SA Health’s Privacy Statement.

Election periods and Caretaker mode

The same approach will be taken to social media as other communication channels during election periods and Caretaker mode.


In addition to the SA Health website disclaimer, the following conditions apply:

All messages on social media sites should be considered public and visible to all for review, comment and sharing.

Information posted on one of our social media sites is not intended to be individual medical advice and should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace consultation with a qualified doctor or other health care professional.

In an emergency call 000.

If you are unwell see your local GP or call Health Direct on 1800 022 222.

Addition 26th Dec 2011: In a recent twitter conversation with the SA Health Minister John Hill MP he advised that SA Health would release guidelines for staff “soon”. Hopefully they will allow them the freedom to tweet and interact as John Hill can.

Cancer and Indigenous Australians

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report “The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2008” indicated that 15.1% of all Indigenous deaths was due to cancer. This is the second highest single cause of death.

Chemotherapy outside major hospitals is almost impossible to achieve, indeed most health service policies allow for oral dose forms only. For remote Indigenous Australians the choice is “finishing up on country” or moving away from friends or family for treatment. Whilst the Patient Assisted Transfer Scheme is federally funded it is state managed and varies from state to state. In some states it is impossible to have family travel in under the scheme to give support.

There is a distinct lack of policy in the areas of cancer and palliative care for Indigenous Australians. This is particularly noticeable in remote areas.

There is a great article by Daniel Vujcich over at Croakey on the dearth of policy in the area of cancer and Indigenous Australians.

He writes:

Last year I conducted interviews with current and former senior bureaucrats and Ministers directly responsible for the formulation of Indigenous health policy. Their responses led me to conclude that misplaced assumptions continue to play a role in the way in which Indigenous health issues are prioritised for government action.

One Minister described the dearth of cancer policies in the following way: “Well … if you don’t live very long, obviously trachoma is more of a problem than cancer”. Another Minister offered a virtually identical explanation: “Cancer was not seen to be such a particular issue for the very simple reason of life expectancy. It becomes a more acute issue the longer you live.”

Meanwhile a former Director-General of a State Health Department expressed surprise when told that cancer was one of the leading causes of Indigenous death, saying “I wouldn’t have put it as a high cause”, and a third Minister omitted it from his list of “biggest killers” of Indigenous people, instead citing cardiac disease, renal disease, diabetes, smoking and accidental or violent death.

I urge you to read the complete article “Cancer and Indigenous health: the pitfalls of assumption-based policy

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