In the hot seat: A Q&A with our new Director of Risk

Jacob Toner stands smiling in a garden wearing a pink shirt and black suit jacket.

We had the opportunity to sit down with our new Director of Risk, Jacob Toner, to get a bit of insight into how we manage and mitigate risks at Monash Health, and to learn more about him as a person. 

Having started in the role at the end of August, Jacob has already been making a splash.  

Take a look at the interview below to find out how: 

For those who don’t know, what does a Director of Risk do?

The role helps the organisation consider uncertainty, both in what could go wrong and what needs to go right for us to achieve our strategic priorities. In practicality, that’s everything from helping the Board think of the big strategic risks facing our health service through to the safety risks our clinical staff confront and manage day to day. 

A little birdie told us you came across from New Zealand to take up this position. Why did you decide to apply for a role here in Australia?

I was working with the Auckland Health Service in New Zealand in a very similar role, and I’ve relocated to Melbourne with my husband and our dog. I love Melbourne, there’s so much to do here, and it’s such a vibrant city. There are things happening every weekend, and I was really attracted to the diversity on offer here. In terms of the role at Monash Health, the size and complexity of the health service really appealed to me, and I thought I’d find the role really rewarding. I’ve worked in healthcare for about seven years and find it to be really rewarding work where you can see the social consequences of what you’re doing firsthand. 

At Monash Health, how do we identify and monitor risks and what role can we play as individuals?

We have a risk management framework that sets up the approach to managing and identifying risks. Everyone has a role to play in managing risks because we all see different things in the course of our work. The key thing is if you think of or see something that concerns you, raise it in a team meeting so it goes straight to the right channels. If you’re not comfortable raising it with your own manager, you can raise it through a different avenue, like speaking to your health and safety representative or speaking to your professional leadership if it’s a clinical safety risk. The most important thing is if you see something, say something! The people on a ward are best placed to know what’s going on in their own ward. 

How does identifying and monitoring risks play into our strategic development and priorities?

Within our strategic plan, we have initiatives, and they align to the enterprise risks that we’ve identified. All of our strategic risks are regularly monitored by the executive team and the Board, so when we’re thinking of some of the big initiatives we take on we’re always considering the risks and opportunities for Monash Health. 

What are some of the biggest risks we manage at Monash Health?

The biggest one for us is patient safety, because that’s core to our work to ensure we provide high-quality and safe care. The second is workforce, so making sure we’ve got an adequate number of skilled staff to provide that care, and that the staff are well and supported. The last would be the finances needed to deliver that care. A lot of risks are really interconnected, so when we make a gain against one it lowers the risk across the board.  

Why were you drawn to work in the risk space?

My career has mostly been in the public sector, and I studied public policy at university. It’s a bit ‘motherhood and apple pie’ – I’m drawn to roles that have purpose and have also been genuinely really inspired to work alongside very talented colleagues. I wanted to contribute to the community and do work that makes a tangible difference to people’s lives. 

When you’re not on the clock, what do you like to get up to in your free time?

I actually have already joined the LGBTQI+ committee at Monash Health. I’m really enthusiastic about the ability for Monash Health to provide care to patients that’s really affirming, and for our sites to be a welcoming and safe place where people can come to work and be their authentic selves. I’m really dog obsessed, and dog training is a big passion of mine. We’re actually going to get a new puppy soon, so I’m very excited! I also have a big love of craft beer, and it’s been really fun getting around to some of the breweries in Melbourne.