Niki Ellis | Mental Health: how it will change WHS forever


Mental Health: how it will change WHS forever

28 Jul 2016, Posted by Professor Niki Ellis in WHS

The Safety Institute of Australia (SIA) in Tasmania held an event on Thursday 22 July at the slightly surreal hockey centre. The CEO of SIA, David Clarke, opened up outlining the action SIA is taking to enhance the professionalisation of the safety discipline. This includes defining the scope of knowledge, competencies, establishing accreditation and continuing professional development. He acknowledged the value of the extraordinary Body of Knowledge (BoK), built under the leadership of Pam Pryor a few years ago. However it is recognised this needs to be updated, possibly as a Wiki.  An idea mooted at the time of the BoK’s development, but, inexplicably to me, not taken up. 

I gave an update on mental health in the workplace.  The gist of what I said was that an integrated approach is emerging as the dominant model. By that I mean a model that combines health promotion (workplace health promotion) with health protection (OHS) to take a holistic approach to the issue. Think the Canadian Standard as opposed to the Health and Safety Executive’s Stress Management Standards.  Professor Tony La Montagne, now at Deakin, has proposed such a model.  You can view my presentation here.

Talking to some of the participants who work in government afterwards, it is clear there is an appetite to apply some of these ideas, working in innovative partnerships, taking a broad worker health approach. Tasmania has already had some success with establishing employer networks. It may be easier to foster the cross-government collaboration needed for this work, especially between industry and health, in Tasmania. Watch this state!