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Many bosses think they are doing enough to create mentally healthy workplaces, but employees beg to differ, according to new research.

The findings are part of a TNS and beyondblue mental health report released this week, State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia.

While 71 per cent of leaders say they are committed to promoting the mental health of staff, only 37 per cent of staff agree.

A similar gulf exists for implementing processes and policies to support those who disclose a mental health condition. Seventy per cent of leaders say such processes and policies are in place, but only 44 per cent of staff agree.

In addition, only 52 per cent of employees believe their workplace is mentally healthy, compared to 76 per cent who believe their workplace is physically safe.

The report also notes that only 56 per cent of employees believe their most senior leader values mental health.

For more details, visit the report.

Published on 19 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

16 Jun 2014

Death toll driven higher

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Nineteen more people have died at work this year, with vehicle incidents continuing to claim many of these lives, according to the latest official figures.

These latest fatalities bring the death toll to 30, says the Notifiable Fatalities Monthly Report for February 2014, which was released last week.

Of the 19 people killed, 10 were in vehicle crashes on public roads, one was hit by an unattended moving vehicle not on a public road and one pedestrian was hit by vehicle on a public road.

Three other workers were crushed to death, two were hit by falling objects, one was burnt and another was affected by a chemical or substance.

In the January report, seven of the 11 deaths were vehicle related.

The preliminary estimate for the number of people killed at work as at 27 May stands at 72, says Safe Work Australia.

For more details, visit the notified fatalities report and the preliminary statistics.

Published on 5 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

If the federal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb was 40 again he wouldn’t tell too many people he lived with a mental illness, because he couldn’t take the risk.

Robb was sharing his own experiences with depression at a gathering of workplace mental health stakeholders to launch a new Black Dog Institute workplace initiative last Friday.

He described how he had lived with mental illness for most of his life.

He said stigma was still an issue for the community to deal with, noting there were a lot of put-downs when people got half the chance.

Also, when his illness was diagnosed and he was trialling medications, he found he couldn’t handle the side effects and do his job at the same time, and some people assumed he would retire.

But now that the medication issues have been resolved, Robb says he has never felt better.

He said his boss, the Prime Minster Tony Abbott, treated him like everybody else and delegated work, but pulled him up when he had made mistakes.

Dr Samuel Harvey, Senior Lecturer in Workplace Mental Health at the University of New South Wales and Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, also speaking at the launch, said preventative not just reactive mental health measures were necessary at all workplaces.

Harvey said there were no simple answers, and evidence-based solutions that addressed mental health problems at organisation, team and individual levels were necessary.

Importantly, good leadership was key to the success of any mental health initiative, he said.

For more details visit the Black Dog Institute.

Published on 5 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

11 Jun 2014

Mind Set

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By Helen Borger

If we’re serious about addressing mental health risks at work, we must aim to remove harm at the source and intervene early, not just paint over or massage the symptoms, writes Helen Borger.

A quick online search reveals a plethora of advice and information about choosing the right mood-altering paint colours for office walls and selecting the best beanbags for worksite chill-out spaces. Not to mention the availability of on-site massages to ease employee tension and anxiety.

National Safety Magazine Continue reading or download the full story of Mind Set (PDF, 264kB) here.

Published in National Safety magazine, May-June 2014.



The Asbestos Eradication Agency may be in this year’s federal budget but there’s no telling for how long it will stay.

As reported in an earlier e-bulletin, the agency looked like it had escaped the cull recommended in the Commission of Audit when it turned up as a line item in the budget.

However, a report authored by the federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has surfaced referring to the agency as “window dressing”, and saying that when it was created in 2013 its function was already “being carried out as a separately-branded office within the then Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations”.

In parliament last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott disputed Opposition claims that he was allowing the agency to be axed. “It has not been axed: it is as simple as that—it has not been axed,” Abbott said.

However, as the Refugee Council of Australia discovered last week, being a line item in the budget doesn’t mean that funding will flow as expected.

For more details, visit the report.

Published on 5 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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