Keeping staff connected 700km apart

Mrs Helen Burton1

1Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program, Parkville, Australia


The Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) delivers state-wide newborn hearing screening to all eligible infants born or residing in Victoria both in public and private sectors.

This is a complex organisational undertaking.  There are 153 Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) staff in the VIHSP team, 116 of whom are dedicated hearing screeners conducting hearing screens on newborns in over 70 birth hospitals state-wide, supervised by 22 locally based area managers. Staff are required to work within teams both locally and remotely with many providing newborn hearing screening services to multiple hospitals.

Despite multiple challenges associated with geographic distance, VIHSP strives to promote cohesion and sense of belonging among team members who can be located up to 700km apart. VIHSP have developed a range of innovative ways to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of communication between staff members to promote staff cohesion and connectedness which include online training packages, online staff surveys, VIHSP staff newsletters, webinars, video conference meetings, online resources and VIHSP professional development days.

This paper aims to explore the challenges and benefits of implementing these strategies.

Staff retention rates, internal feedback and participation at professional development activities have been improved through such strategies, and will be described as measures of staff well-being and engagement


Helen Burton has been part of the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program for over 10 years.  Helen has a background in Commerce/Corporate Governance and has worked in the financial, health research and public sectors and has a strong interest in organisational culture and effective communication.