Sunday 16 June 2024

Contact 1800 772 679

Contact 1800 772 679

The magazine of the Public Service Association of NSW and the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW Branch)

Unions Brush Up On Mental Health

Unions Brush Up On Mental Health

An ACTU conference hears about hazards at work.

On 7 and 8 September, a PSA/CPSU NSWdelegation attended the Mental Health Workplace Safety Organising Conference run by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The event was held at the Victorian Trades Hall in Melbourne.

The delegation included Bernadette McMahon, a Delegate from the Department of Housing and Central Councillor; Patricia O’Brien, Welfare Officer PSA/CPSU NSW; and Daniel Ainsworth, a Rural Fire Service Delegate from Casino.

The Conference highlighted the work being done around psychosocial hazards in the workplace, including research from academics working in this sphere.

“It was an opportunity to hear from unions around the country on what they were doing for their members in this area,” said Ms O’Brien. “Speakers at the event included Sally McManus, Secretary of the ACTU, who highlighted the work being done by members and Delegates across the union movement and how much has been achieved by them during the pandemic.”

Another speaker was Marie Boland, Workplace Relations and WHS Consultant Inaugural Thinker in Residence at University of South Australia. In November 2017, Ms Boland was appointed by Safe Work Australia to conduct the first independent review of the model Work Health and Safety laws.

Research from another speaker, Professor Sam Harvey from the Black Dog Institute, focused on workplace mental health, models of care for depression, and the overlap between physical and mental health.

“Professor Harvey’s research is internationally recognised, with agencies such as the World Health Organisation looking to him for advice on how to create more mentally healthy workplaces,” said Ms O’Brien. “Most recently, he led the development, delivery and evaluation

of mental health services for Emergency Service workers who responded to the 2019/2020 Black Summer Bush Fires.

Also presenting was Professor Carlo Caponecchia, who researches human factors and safety applied across several domains. He provided expert witness testimony, particularly regarding safe systems of work, and provides consultancy advice to several industries on safety-related projects.

The Conference ran workshops on New Model Laws on Psychological Health, the fundamentals of building power through health and safety, applying the hierarchy of control to mental health and workers who are exposed to vicarious trauma and what can be done to protect them.

“The PSA/CPSU NSW Delegation enjoyed the conference and got to meet and network with union members from all over the country and even got a guided tour of the Trades Hall,” said Ms O’Brien.

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