Public submissions for Victoria’s Royal Commission into Mental Health close on July 5 2019. If you believe that work-related mental health is important, tell the Royal Commission through its, very easy, online submission process. Below is the text of the submission I made earlier this week.
The website asks you questions, many more than I answered, so you just have to think a little bit, and comment. If you don’t have time for a detailed submission, there is a Brief Comments option.
What is already working well and what can be done better
to prevent mental illness and to support people to get early treatment and
Employers have had legislative obligations to provide safe
and healthy work environments for many decades, but the inclusion of
psychological health has been largely overlooked in preference to those hazards
that have a direct relationship to traumatic injury and death. It is only since 2000, and the various
campaigns since to prevent and reduce stress and bullying, that psychological
risks have been on the workplace agenda.
Barry Naismith, through his OHSIntros organisation, has released his latest independent report into the performance of WorkSafe Victoria and occupational health and safety (OHS) more generally. Naismith’s contribution is a fresh context on Victoria’s safety and health regulator, and it is an excellent reminder of the prominent issues in the previous 12 months.
The Safety Institute of Australia, commendably, approached the major political parties running in Australia’s current federal election campaign. Only the Australian Labor Party (ALP) responded to the SIA, but the policy documents of the Australian Greens and Liberal and National Parties are available online and their relevance to occupational health and safety (OHS) deserves attention.
The ALP information should be familiar to SafetyAtWorkBlog readers:
• “Show national leadership and meet with work, health and safety ministers from across Australia in the second half of this year to decide on the best course of action of the recommendations to come out of the Boland review.
• Work with state and territory governments to implement a harmonised industrial manslaughter offence.
• Establish a national advisory committee made up of representatives from each state and territory who have been personally impacted by a serious workplace injury or death to develop recommendations for federal, state and territory governments to act upon.”
Some media reports on the recent suicide of another Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer indicate a change away from the dominant perspective of addressing the individual worker rather than institutional factors.
This article is not denying that suicide is a personal decision. It is an act that most of us do not understand and struggle to do so; this is partly because, unless a note is left or the person spoke to another about their intentions, we can never be sure why someone takes their own life. As a colleague explained to me, we try to rationalise an irrational act, or at least an act that seemed rational to the person at the time.
The Australian Federal Police has had several
Earlier this week former chair of the Australian Government’s National Mental Health Commission, Allan Fels (pictured right) addressed a lunch hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. The topicality of his presentation stemmed from two major inquiries into mental health – one by the Federal Government and undertaken by the Productivity Commission (PC), the other is a Royal Commission from the Victorian Government. The breadth of the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the PC inquiry has generated a very broad level of interest across the social spectrum. The Royal Commission ToR are yet to be released.
Fels acknowledged the role that workplaces have in addressing mental health