We are a big business and we work in complex and ever-changing environments.

Rhys Barker, Executive General Manager for Social Infrastructure

Austin Health has been a valued Ventia client since 2011. Our strong working relationship has seen us deliver service excellence in facilities and asset maintenance services for their hospital facilities and equipment in Melbourne, Victoria. 

Four members of Austin Health’s leadership team were keen to better understand Ventia’s complex service offering, outside what they experienced on their contract with us, to expand their knowledge and bring lessons learned back to Austin Health. 


Why visit Ventia sites across Australia and New Zealand?

Director Support Services Jason Walker and Director Procurement and Supply Matt Smith kicked off site tours, later joined by Director Capital Works Sue Barcley and GM Food Services Sam Ponniah at the Queensland sites.

“People that work in health have often worked in health for a long time and they become very health centric without bringing new ideas and learnings from other sectors,” Jason says. “Although Matt and I didn’t originally come from Health, we’ve been with Austin for around seven years now, so getting a fresh perspective on the challenges large services businesses face was an amazing opportunity to be offered.” 

Sites visited included:

  • Anglo American Villages in Mooranbah and Middlemount (in Central Queensland)
  • Rigs and Well Services sites in Toowoomba
  • The Northern Beaches and Royal North Shore hospitals in Sydney 
  • Puckapunyal and HMAS Cerberus Defence bases and the EastLink transport facility in Victoria; and
  • Auckland Council and Palmerston North Hospital in New Zealand. 


This gave the group insights into local government, Defence, transport, health and the resource sector, encompassing a wide variety of activities and contract requirements. 

What did the site visits involve?

Matt, Jason, Sue and Sam met with a range of employees, subcontractors and client representatives from the CEO, to senior project leaders to frontline trades and subcontractors. They viewed systems used to manage large infrastructure contracts, as well as participating in site meetings and safety briefings.

Both Jason and Matt were full of praise for the time taken by the teams on the ground to host the visitors, and to share their passion for what they do at Ventia.

“We appreciate that the people we met at sites around Australia and New Zealand all have a day job to do,” Matt says. “But they were generous with their time, showing us around, introducing us to the team. It was clear they were very proud of the work they do for their client.”

Jason says their pride in what they do shone through.


What are some of the takeaways?

“I didn’t realise the breadth of the role Ventia played in Defence,” Jason says. “For example, range management and firefighting. Both are critical roles with huge safety responsibilities that Ventia does really well.”

“I appreciated the chance to learn a different way of doing things, and what I observed about Ventia is that you’re very adaptive,” Jason says. “You’re focused on customer service and on meeting the needs of each of your clients."

There are some commonalities of course, with common themes based on your values and strategy, but you adapt to each site or contract

The commonalities Jason observed across the contracts within Ventia also applied to the challenges faced, both within Ventia and between Ventia and Austin Health. 



Keeping people and communities safe

“When we were out at the Rig and Wells sites in Queensland, we learned a lot about Ventia’s approach to safety,” Jason says.

“From the flame-retardant clothing they wear, to the inductions they do on and off site, everything is about ensuring that crew go home safely at the end of the day.”

“These are crews that work 12-hour shifts, often on 40-degree days. Then they go ‘home’ at night to a donga in the middle of nowhere. It’s not a comfortable life, but they clearly love what they do and respect the importance of the process.”

Jason also noted it wasn’t just about physical safety, but in creating mentally healthy workplaces. When they visited the aviation team, who fly crews to and from the various camp sites, he learned that when something unexpected occurs, the care and safety of the team is paramount.

“If an employee gets sick, or someone’s wife back home goes into labour early, the flight crew hustle to get that person home as quickly as possible, no question.”

I love that compassion and wellbeing is front of mind

In return, Matt and Jason were able to offer their own observations and learnings when it came to movement of clinical waste in a hospital environment, delivering an improvement opportunity for our team in Palmerston North in New Zealand. 


Data and asset management 

As a numbers guy, Matt was excited by the way Ventia contracts collate, manage and analyse data for better decision making, presenting it through PowerBI dashboards.

The project on a page concept provides consistency across the business and is clearly helping Ventia’s leaders see how they’re performing and where effort needs to be directed to improve

He was keen to see the asset management system and processes utilised at Ventia’s Royal North Shore and Northern Beaches Hospital contracts replicated at Austin Health.

“I was also impressed with the predictive tool for lift conditions at the Northern Beaches Hospital, although retrofitting that on existing infrastructure will be our challenge.”

Other innovations the visitors liked included the use of robots for transporting linen at the Royal North Shore Hospital contract, reducing the risk of manual handling, and the sensors on garbage bins across Auckland, which provide usage data and have improved route planning and timing for rubbish collection.

“I like how Ventia work with their clients to solve issues,” Jason says. “Even something as simple as client and contractor performing regular joint walkarounds to inspect assets. It’s collaborative.”

Austin Health’s Chief Information and Services Officer Ray Van Kuyk whose Business Unit oversees Jason, Sam and Sue’ areas commended Ventia on this fantastic initiative.

This was not only an opportunity for Austin staff to spend time with one of our key partners but to also enhance our collaborative relationship and bring back ideas on how to improve our business

Kyle Koziol and the Rig and Wells team on a site visit


Participant feedback 

General Manager Rigs & Well Services Kyle Koziol was proud to host the visitors at Rig 30 near Miles and at sites in Toowoomba, both in Queensland.

Some of the highlights he and the team shared included the importance of safety in all that we do, especially pre-task planning on rig sites, and the process and logistics around moving such large pieces of equipment from site to site. 

“This was a great opportunity for us to share knowledge across industries,” Kyle says. “Sometimes the things you have in common are not immediately apparent, but we quickly learned that there were significant similarities, such as safety in high-risk environments.”

Kyle noted that this site tour played into Ventia’s strength as a diverse operation.

I think it raises the further opportunity for employees and clients to connect with other industries around specific challenges and learn from each other

Kyle says one of his takeaways about the operations within Austin Health was in relation to the catering.

“I learned a lot about food safety, and the sheer logistics involved in preparing and safely delivering over 3,000 meals a day.”

Executive General Manager for Social Infrastructure Rhys Barker, in whose business unit the Austin Health contract sits, says opening up our business for clients to visit offered key opportunity for the business to see itself through external eyes.

“We are a big business, and we work in complex and ever-changing environments,” Rhys says. “The Austin team saw a lot of different parts of the business, and you really don’t know what could pop up on any given day.”

“Our teams did us proud on this tour, showcasing what Ventia is all about. We did of course also have the opportunity for Jason and Matt to provide us with some feedback which our teams are taking as opportunities to be even better.”