“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… MASS HYSTERIA!”

Victorian businesses and occupational health and safety (OHS) people are hungry for advice about managing psychosocial hazards at work if the scenes at today’s Work Health and Safety show were any indication. The sad part of the popularity of the topic is that some of the advice being given is wrong or outdated.

Two sessions in this free trade show that I visited were packed to overflowing as the images on this page illustrate. But some people who are far more qualified in psychosocial hazards than I told me that information offered on Job Design in one session, for instance, stated that the concept was new. Job Design has been a known contributor to poor mental health at work for many years, although it may be newly discovered by the current salesperson.

But the numbers themselves should put pressure on Victoria’s government and Minister for WorkSafe, Danny Pearson, in particular to sniff the political wind and release the psychosocial amendments to the OHS Act which are almost 18 months overdue! WorkSafe is ready to implement and enforce the new duties. These laws are in place in other jurisdictions with national and local guidance and Codes of Practice! Awareness of mental health at work risks has never been higher! Mental Health First Aid courses are booming (sadly)! Psychosocial podcasts are making careers! “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… MASS HYSTERIA!” as Dr Peter Venkman said in Ghostbusters.

Recently the Victorian government reduced access to workers compensation resources for those with work-related mental health claims justified by a “broken” Workcover scheme that could not cope with the large number of mental health claims. It was a controversial move but one of many in a State that is struggling with debt and has limited avenues for revenue.

What this government seems to ignore is that prevention strategies reduce harm AND cost. It is this type of strategy that is needed during a time of cost-of-living and cost-of-government crisis, and the government has one ready to go – psychosocial regulations.

Why does the Minister appear so gutless on this issue? Are psychosocial hazards that scary? Who benefits from the delay?

Kevin Jones

Categories Burnout, government, health, law, Leadership, mental-health, OHS, Pearson, politics, psychosocial, risk, safety, Uncategorized, WorkSafe

3 thoughts on ““Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… MASS HYSTERIA!””

  1. Kevin, apart from informing the readers of your blog, do you (on a personal level) proactively challenge the Minister about the various issues that you identify? I am not suggesting that you should, just asking if you go to that level of detail. I often put in complaints and comments to my (local) state and federal members, and generally I get some pretty good responses, and not the political spin that you see on commercial media. As our elected officials are generally not subject experts for the ministries that they have been appointed too, their office staff do a lot to ensure the member asking the questions of the minister and getting back to you. By way of example, Bill Shorten is not a subject expert in disability, or the way individuals with a disability function within our society. However, every question that I have put to my local federal member regarding issues with the NDIS and my experiences working within the disability sector have been acted upon. I put that down to the work of the individuals who are employed to run those departments, not the minister.

    1. Elected officials are not experts in their appointed ministries. Whilst their may be a political angle to how Mr Pearson responds, or doesn’t respond to funding of mental health workers compensation, the people that advise the Minister, that being the Directors/Secretaries of the government department’s charged with administrating both the “safety” legislation and workers compensation, are the ones that should be made accountable. When that happens, as it did at the federal level around the “robodebt” saga, change happens.

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