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Focus on Change

Understanding the importance of mental health in managing change was the overall message at Comcare’s most recent Mental Health Community of Practice. The event was developed around the theme of organisational change and its impact on mental health and attracted 137 attendees from the jurisdiction; a record number for the event. An infographic summarising attendee feedback from the event can be viewed here.

Held in Canberra and streamed to Comcare’s offices nationally, the event was hosted by Comcare’s Strategic Research and Innovation group, facilitated by Dr Jill Charker, Deputy Secretary, Corporate at the Department of Jobs and Small Business, and brought together four diverse speakers to offer insights into organisational change.  Based in Canberra, the event was also streamed to Comcare’s offices around Australia.

Opening speaker Simon Waring shared his very personal story of caring for both his wife and young son through their journeys with terminal cancer. The devastating change that this brought to Simon’s life highlighted that we choose how we respond to change, and the importance of using the resources around us to support with both personal and organisational change.

Dr Kirsten Way from the Peter Faber Business School at the Australian Catholic University explored at some of the evidence for positive change management, including categories of change, key models of emergent change, the roles of leaders and line managers in supporting change and most importantly, remembering the wellbeing of the person in the organisational system.

Clare McLaughlin, General Manager of Science Policy Governance, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science presented the case study of the Australian Astronomical Observatory transition from operating within the Department to being part of a university consortium. Clare shared some of the activities and learnings from the transition, particularly in how they supported the staff through the change.

Closing speaker Kylie Watson provided a timely reminder that we have all lived through major change, many times. As a Partner in Risk Analysis at Deloitte, Kylie advises universities, governments and corporate organisations on analytics and technology trends that will shape the future. Kylie highlighted that there will always be a need for the human element in a digital world and that we need to work with technologies to enhance our capabilities.

The four speakers provided very different perspectives on managing organisational change, however for all of them, the most important aspect of managing change was about remaining connected with the people who are part of the change.

Several of the presentations from the event can be viewed here and a further link to change management resources can be viewed here.  The next Mental Health Community of Practice event will be held on Thursday 30 May 2019.  For more information please email


Page last updated: 14 Dec 2018