Below you will find resources available from our program of speakers. This page will continue to be updated.

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Day 1 - Tuesday 7 June 2022

Click on each session to view available resources
10:30am - 11:00am
10:30am - 11:00amKeynote 2: Celebrating Diversity in Contemporary Australian Society

Join Dion Devow, 2018 ACT Australian of the Year and Managing Director of Yerra, as he shares his passion for celebrating diversity in a contemporary Australian society and how he works as a conduit between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to bring people of all nationalities together.

11:00am - 12:00pm
11:00am - 12:00pmKeynote 3: Panel session: Crisis management and the impacts on resilience and mental health

From floods and bushfires to the COVID-19 global pandemic, our lives, communities and the way we work have been transformed over the last two years.

Join our panel who will discuss:

  • The impacts of the past two years on our resilience as a country, a community and as individuals.
  • The importance of understanding and managing mental health in a pre and post COVID world.
  • Emerging issues in crisis management for today’s leaders and businesses.
  • The role of the employer in managing mental health issues in the workplace.
Concurrency indicatorTimeActivityCategory
  Concurrent Session A
 1:00pm - 1:45pm
1:00pm - 1:45pmA1: Championing an early intervention approach to workplace mental health

Comcare and Department of Defence

Resources are available from John Love (PDF, 278.6 KB) and Dayna Fawkes (PDF, 3.0 MB).

Comcare will provide an overview of the Better Practice Principles for EAP, including their design and evaluation. Defence will then provide an overview of how they applied these Principles to develop a whole of government procurement process for a new Commonwealth EAP Standing Offer Panel as well highlighting similar initiatives that are currently underway.

 1:00pm - 1:45pm
1:00pm - 1:45pm A2: People at Work: Reflections a year into a national multi-jurisdictional game changer

Tanya Orszulak, Office of Industrial Relations QLD

People at Work digital platform is not just an Australian validated and evidence based psychosocial risk assessment survey tool with benchmarking.  It supports a five-step process to identify, assess and control risks to psychological health at work and includes interactive learning modules and automated custom reports.  For regulators, this national database of leading indicators for psychosocial hazards and outcome measures (psychological health, sprain and strain and worker intentions), provides valuable insights to accompany lag indicators for a more fulsome view of the rapidly emerging domain of psychological health at work.  In this session I will describe the journey up until now from the inception of the research project to our first year of data insights, what that might tell us and how it might guide our regulatory activities for improving psychological health at work.

 1:00pm - 1:45pm
1:00pm - 1:45pm A3: How artificial intelligence and behavioural insights are improving claim outcomes

Chris Rymer, QBE Insurance Australia

Our vision “To be the best at helping people get their lives back together after an injury by being good people supported by science and analytics” underpins everything we do in people risk at QBE. Over the past 3 years QBE has been innovating in our people risk business. To do this we compared ourselves to local and international peers, met with international insurance experts and medical and rehabilitation industry experts. This approach set us on a path of innovation in which we invested $20M in technology, new approaches and innovation to meet our vision.

We will share our innovative approach and initiatives which have been tested in our business so you can learn from our successes and failures including;

  • How our inhouse Behavioural Insights Teams are conducting experiments improving response from GPs and Physiotherapists as well as improving communication with injured people and stakeholders,
  • Our exclusive partnership with CLARA analytics Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning platform to predict claims risk at claim inception, predict the likelihood of solicitor involvement, normalise workload and understand the impact of providers on claims,
  • Medication management programs to improve the overuse of opioid medications to help improve recovery for injured people,
  • How, with our partners, we set up exclusive Active Recovery Clinics to offer an alternate treatment option for GPs and injured people utilising advanced wearable biomechanical sensors and a tablet for exercises,
  • Navigator intervention program to proactively manage psychosocial issues to through early intervention,
  • MyRecovery program using personalised interactive video to help QBE understand the issues facing the injured person, auto stream and preapprove treatment and collect structure psychosocial data.

We will share the results of our initiatives demonstrating how these programs are delivering an improved injured person and customer experience and improved claim cost outcomes.

 1:00pm - 1:45pm
1:00pm - 1:45pm A4: Short presentations

When is medicinal cannabis likely to be reasonable medical treatment?
Rosemary Waldron-Hartfield, Moray & Agnew Lawyers

Resources (PDF, 860.3 KB) are available from this session.

Claims managers are being asked in some cases to pay compensation for medicinal cannabis (“MC”). However, this treatment is expensive and the scientific basis for using it is incomplete. The Commonwealth Department of Health convened a working party to examine the evidence regarding its efficacy in treating chronic pain and noted a generally very modest effect on pain intensity. Only one person in 22-26 treated got significant pain relief. Significantly, there was also no difference in overall physical functioning. There is some evidence that MC may have a role in reducing the use of opioids, however, further research is required. The adverse effects of long-term MC use are still poorly understood . It is accepted that if MC is used, it should be trialled usually for a month and its efficacy then assessed.

When considering claims for MC, questions for the prescribing doctor include:

  • Why aren’t more conventional treatments being recommended?
  • What specific cannabis product is proposed to be prescribed and for what period of time?
  • What is the cost of the medication per week/month?
  • What is its anticipated effect on pain intensity, physical functioning, emotional functioning and quality of life; and how will these be measured?
  • Is it anticipated that it would eliminate or reduce the use of opioids and if so, over what period of time (and to what extent)?
  • Are there any potential adverse events?
Questions from the case law include:
  • Is the anticipated therapeutic effect sufficient to justify the expense?
  • Can it be concluded that a significant minority of the medical profession would advocate for this treatment in the particular circumstances?

The use of MC may be supported when it is for a limited period of time, using a product for which there is evidence of a moderate reduction in pain, and it is considered likely to eliminate or significantly reduce the use of opioids. It is likely that there will only be a very small number of cases, in which the evidence will support a conclusion that the therapeutic effect is sufficient to justify the cost.

A Softer Landing, Supporting injured Australian’s transition from income support

Geniere Aplin and Laura Youl, EML

Resources (PDF, 355.7 KB) are available from this session.

There is increased scrutiny and responsibility for workers compensation schemes in how the process of seeking compensation impacts claimants’ health and well-being. The Collaborative Partnership to improve work participation was publicly launched in 2017 to deliver better outcomes for Australians living with temporary or permanent physical or mental health conditions. Research identified that the transition from one income support system to another is difficult to navigate, individuals dependent on long-term income support often experience financial hardship when their entitlement period ends. Where these individuals end up is not well understood, identified as a gap in the research conducted to date.As such, EML developed the ‘Transition Specialist Program’, a new service to support income support recipients with their transition out of income replacement schemes; with the goal of improving health and wellbeing leading to work participation and a reduced dependence on financial support. The Transition Specialist is  responsible for identifying relevant support services to help maintain the individual’s basic needs whilst building their confidence to drive self-management and work readiness. The Collaborative Partnership approved EML’s proposal providing funding for approximately 50 Victorian workers compensation participants in a 12 month pilot. The program launched on 31 August 2020, with the objectives of facilitating a “softer landing” for program participants as they exit the Victorian Workers Compensation system; providing a transition service by a qualified Social Worker, connecting them to support services with the goal of achieving financial independence through work participation. The pilot project also aims to fill the gap in research by understanding people’s movements between systems through comparison of challenges and outcomes with/without transition support.  Funded by the Collaborative Partnership and WorkSafe Victoria the action research program is being independently evaluated by Monash University to assess the program impact in key dimensions of work readiness, health and wellbeing. Delegates will gain an understanding of the impact this industry-first Transition Specialist program is having on participants’ work readiness and wellbeing. It’s a unique insight into the experience of people exiting income replacement schemes, and how by connecting them to services, networks and support can improve health and wellbeing.

  Concurrent Session B
 1:55pm - 2:40pm
1:55pm - 2:40pmB1: Mental and physical health impacts of working at home

Dr Jodi Oakman, La Trobe University

Resources (PDF, 5.0 MB) are available from this session.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in changes to the working arrangements of millions of employees who are now based at home and may continue to work at home, in some capacity, for the foreseeable future. Decisions on how to promote employees’ health whilst working at home (WAH) need to be based on the best available evidence to optimise worker outcomes. This session will present the results from a body of work undertaken to identify the physical and mental health benefits of working at home and how to optimise well-being.

The first presentation will draw from the results of a rapid review of the evidence undertaken to review the impact of WAH on individual workers’ mental and physical health, and determine any gender difference, to develop recommendations for employers and employees to optimise workers’ health. This review identified several health outcomes affected by WAH. The health/work relationship is complex and requires consideration of broader system factors to optimise the effects of WAH on workers’ health. It is likely mandated WAH will continue to some degree for the foreseeable future; organisations will need to implement formalised WAH policies that consider work-home boundary setting, role clarity, workload, performance indicators, technical support, facilitation of co-worker networking, and training for managers.

Presentations two and three will draw on data from a mixed methods study undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic to inform the development of guidelines for employers and employees on working at home. Survey measures included Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire, Technology characteristics, demographics data, work–family conflict and interference measures, pain and discomfort measures. Focus groups were held with survey respondents to gain further insights into the benefits and challenges of working at home.

 1:55pm - 2:40pm
1:55pm - 2:40pmB2: How behavioural insights can improve work health and safety

Dr Vera Newman and Saul Wodak, Behavioural Insights Team

Resources (PDF, 2.7 MB) are available from this session.

Work health and safety interventions are often designed to push people toward reasoned and deliberative thinking, such as getting workers to follow complex operational guidelines. But many of the decisions we make, particularly those made under stress, are habitual and automatic. As a result, many injuries and near-misses on the job are driven by the daily frustrations of time pressure, workarounds, and competing priorities.

Behavioural insights is an evidence-based approach to tackling these difficult behavioural challenges. Drawing on the latest research from psychology, cognitive science, and systems thinking, behavioural insights help us understand how and why we behave the way we do and the extent to which our behaviour is affected by seemingly irrelevant things, such as how information is presented or what others are doing.

With an increasing focus on understanding people’s behaviour in the workplace as a way to reduce both physical and psychosocial harms, behavioural insights is particularly relevant to WHS. In this presentation, we will examine the EAST framework of behaviour change — four simple rules of thumb to encourage a behaviour by making it Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely — in the context of WHS. We will explore real-world case studies with practical tips for putting WHS improvements into action, including exploring the workplace experiences of Aboriginal workers, improving traffic safety among food delivery workers in the gig economy and reducing burnout in emergency services dispatchers.

 1:55pm - 2:40pm
1:55pm - 2:40pm B3: Early exercise intervention in primary psychological claims

Hailey Buchhorn and Riley Bartholomew, Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation

Resources (PDF, 1.6 MB) are available from this session.

The WHO have identified Mental disorders being among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. In Australia Mental health related claims accounts for 6% of serious workers’ compensation claims. In addition, those claims involving mental health conditions are usually associated with an above average time off work and higher than average claim costs. Over the five years between 2010-11 and 2014-15 the typical compensation payment per psychological claim was $24,500 compared to $9,000 for physical claims, and typical time off work was 15.3 weeks compared to 5.5 weeks respectively.

There is a large interest and growing body of research into the role of lifestyle psychiatry to complement traditional pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy treatment for those impacted by mental illness. To date, the majority of research has focused on reduction of physical health comorbidities, psychosocial benefits and physiological adaptations associated with physical activity. However, there is minimal evidence investigating the impact of physical activity for those affected by mental illness within the personal injury sphere.

Noting this lack in research, Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation and UNSW have commenced an ongoing research project monitoring the impact of early exercise intervention for NSW Ambulance operational paramedics on a psychological workers compensation claim. Upon submission of a Psychological claim to Ambulance NSW, Paramedics are offered the opportunity to participate in the early exercise intervention programme to complement other treatment modalities. The exercise component consists of an eight session, twelve-week programme and is delivered by an AEP in an environment which is suitable for the patient.  Education regarding the benefits of exercise is provided and an individualised exercise programme is developed which they are encouraged to complete independently between supervised session. The DASS-21, PSQI and current physical status are measured on commencement and finalisation of the programme.

The preliminary findings suggest that providing operational Paramedics with an early intervention exercise programme seems to be associated with reductions in mental health symptoms, improved sleep quality and an increase in working hours.

 1:55pm - 2:40pm
1:55pm - 2:40pm B4: Short presentations

Creative COVID-19 safety communication
Sue Yates, SBS - Special Broadcasting Service

Resources (PDF, 446.9 KB) are available from this session.

How do you effectively deliver Safety information in a period of high stress, and information fatigue?

SBS confronted this problem when managing the delivery of COVID safe information to its diverse audience of journalists, reporters, creative teams, technology, sales, marketing and administration staff across multiple workplaces.

SBS established a COVID Steer Co comprising leaders from across the business, and chaired by our PO&C Director. This Steer Co meets fortnightly to ensure that our people, practices and communications are supported effectively throughout the pandemic.

The approach taken by SBS in delivering a bespoke and entertaining COVID Training program was informed by the following:

  • Information fatigue - Our highly educated workforce were immersed in daily news gathering, and information delivery on COVID 19 and its impacts.
  • A "rules" adverse culture - The SBS culture is unique, with a creative and diverse workforce, where innovation is embraced
  • A Social Workplace - Physical distancing in a collaborative workplace is a challenge.

To respond to the unique challenges of the SBS workplaces, we needed to consider a WHS training delivery method that:

Made clear the SBS COVID protocols and reporting requirements.

  • Engaged and entertained, to ensure high uptake of training
  • Was meaningful to our audiences, by reflecting the environment and context we work in.
  • Would not further embed the negativity of the bad news bombarding staff in their daily work.
  • The Solution:

    1.Mandatory Training " COVID Safe at SBS" that comprised three short online training modules utilising the comedic skills of our "The Feed" team in videos to deliver the key messages on:

    • Physical Distancing
    • Case Protocols
    • Roadmap

    2.Brand imagery to promote awareness - "Stay one "Kylie" apart" - became an Instagram photo opportunity!

    3. SBS COVID Information Resource Hub on our intranet.


    First SBS online training modules delivered by SBS to be given 5-star ratings, overwhelming positive feedback and engagement .

    Staff adoption of the SBS COVID "language" to  prompt compliance.

    Zero workplace transmission, high level of compliance with case protocols and COVID measures.

    Regulator Readiness
    Dr Lee Huuskes, Centre for Work Health and Safety

    The world of work is going through dramatic and widespread change. New technologies and unusual working arrangements are changing the way that work is organised and distributed across communities. At the same time, expectations around work are changing as a result of shifting understandings in how work is defined and structured.

    This project has explored the future work environment from the perspective of the WHS regulator to better understand and plan for effective regulation of workplaces in the future. This included identifying options for effectively regulating the future state and developing capability, technology, and process to enable a regulator that is ready and flexible enough to support a continuously changing work environment.

    The Collaborative Partnership to improve work participation
    Kim Thrift, Comcare

    Resources (PDF, 2.1 MB) are available from this session.

    There is compelling international evidence that work is generally good for health and wellbeing. While Australia has low unemployment, ill health and disability is preventing many Australians from reaping the benefits of work. Employment of people with disabilities is relatively low in Australia, with 53% of people with disability in paid work compared to 83% of those without disability, and rates for return to work after work-related injury or illness have been stagnant for decades. Australia’s work disability systems are fragmented and operate in siloes - workers’ compensation, motor accident compensation, life insurance, veterans’ compensation, disability support and superannuation.

    Each of them separately seeks to engage with common stakeholders: workers, families, employers, healthcare and vocational rehabilitation providers. Driving improvements in – and minimising pressures on – the sectors and systems that support people who have difficulty attaining, returning to or remaining at work is crucial. Gains in work participation are expected to lead to better health and economic benefits for individuals, families, communities and businesses.

    This presentation will report on the development of a ground-breaking national Collaborative Partnership to improve work participation, launched in 2017, that brings together public, private and not-for-profit sector organisations. Underpinned by the Stanford Model of Collective Impact, this innovative Partnership focuses on breaking down the siloes the systems operate in and improving service delivery; helping employees understand the importance of work to their health and wellbeing; helping businesses dismantle employment barriers; and giving General Practitioners the tools to prescribe work as an integral part of recovery.

    This presentation will provide an overview of the strategy 2020-2022 and the priority pillars of cross sector work including results achieved to date and insights and learnings from across the multiple income benefit systems throughout Australia.

  Concurrent Session C
 3:15pm - 4:00pm
3:15pm - 4:00pmC2: Wellbeing response and resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic

Mark Belanti, Carfi

Resources (PDF, 2.8 MB) are available from this session.

How did organisations maximise psychological safety as people responded to and recovered from the evolving COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a significant shift in the way organisations operated to continue to deliver outcomes and critical services to the Australian public.

As a stakeholder in workplace mental health, Carfi partnered with private and public sector organisations nationally and internationally to implement initiatives in responding to the impacts of the pandemic on staff mental health and wellbeing. With client organisations Carfi developed initiatives to maximise the psychological safety of employees during the acute response phase, and as the pandemic evolved and presented new challenges to the mental health and wellbeing of staff.

Carfi will share important learnings and their approach in creating safer workplaces through the pandemic by developing and delivering the wellbeing initiatives, including the coalface wellbeing support, the ‘Reach Out’ program, the Australian Public Service COVID-19 HR and Executive Hotline, facilitated team wellbeing programs, and wellbeing leadership programs.

Carfi will also share the key themes that emerged from the wellbeing initiatives and the interventions that supported client organisations to enable employees to keep momentum and flexibility as they adjusted to disrupted routines, adapted to new technology, worked from home in challenging circumstances, and lived through lockdown and isolation.

Carfi’s work has informed the wider context and the way organisations can be well placed to respond to the various new challenges to support the wellbeing of the workforce in transitioning from prolonged disruption to the next normal.

Carfi is an industry leader in workplace mental health. Carfi has extensive experience providing professional assessment of problematic workplace dynamics and scenarios, and developing and delivering tailored solutions to bring about resolution of the issues.

 3:15pm - 4:00pm
3:15pm - 4:00pm C3: Beyond Cancer: supporting return to health, wellness, and work

Georgina Lamb and Dr Dianne Sheppard, IPAR

Resources (PDF, 2.9 MB) are available from this session

Over 130 000 Australians are diagnosed with cancer each year.  More people are surviving cancer than ever before, with the 5-year survival rate at 68%.  40% of cancer survivors are of working age, and we know from international research that most cancer survivors want to return to work.  The research also indicates that remaining at, or returning to work supports recovery from cancer, and is consistent with the evidence confirming the health benefits of good work. However, the nature of cancer – its various symptoms, the side-effects of treatment, daily fluctuations in function, and the psychological and emotional impacts often make working difficult for cancer survivors.

Beyond Cancer is IPAR’s cancer-specific approach to rehabilitation and the return to health, wellness and work. It is an evidence based, holistic rehabilitation program, offered to people who are living with cancer. It aims to reduce the impact of symptoms, enhance wellness and help survivors to successfully remain or resume working.

The holistic program emerged from a partnership between academic researchers from Monash and Curtin Universities and IPAR, along with support from the life insurance sector including Swiss Re UK and Australia, and collaborations with the Cancer Council NSW and Queensland. Monash and Curtin Universities are working together to formally evaluate the Beyond Cancer program for those with breast cancer, as funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

In this presentation we will discuss our research findings to date, our experience in delivering the program and key information for managers in supporting team members with a cancer diagnosis.

 3:15pm - 4:00pm
3:15pm - 4:00pm C5: Driving transformation of practice and capability uplift in mental health and suicide prevention, a case study from the Australian Public Service

Sam Junor, Australian Public Service Commission

Resources (PDF, 1.2 MB) are available from this session.

To support APS agencies to align their practice to the APS Mental Health Capability Framework, the APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit has developed a comprehensive, six-phase implementation approach. This includes supporting agencies to undertake a Maturity Scale Assessment, enabling them to visually articulate their own mental health and wellbeing system, demonstrating how sections of their system interface and evaluate their system’s maturity against the systems-based and evidence-informed approach to building workforce capability, represented by the framework. This session will provide an overview of the implementation approach being taken and demonstrate how this is driving transformation of practice and capability uplift in the APS, as well as share learnings from the experience implementing the approach with a range of APS agencies.

Day 2 - Wednesday 8 June 2022

Click on each session to find out more
10:30am - 11:15am
10:30 am - 11:15 am Keynote 6: Human-technology interaction: The impacts of technology on human cognition and communication

Dr Fiona Kerr

The neurophysiology of how humans shape each other during face-to-face interaction is altered by the use of technology in various ways, both good and bad. Understanding this allows us to use technology as a true enabler and choose when it is not the best solution.

Concurrency indicatorTimeActivityCategory
  Concurrent Session D
 11:25am - 12:10pm
11:25am - 12:10pmD1: Comcare Claims Management - An update on trends and improvements in Claims Management

Aaron Hughes, Comcare

Resources (PDF, 1.5 MB) are available from this session.

Aaron is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Comcare. Aaron’s substantive role is leading Comcare’s claims management functions as the General Manager, Claims Management Group and Deputy CEO.

 11:25am - 12:10pm
11:25am - 12:10pm D2: The ultimate cost of mental ill-health in the workplace

Allianz Logo

Resources (PDF, 788.9 KB) are available from this session.

Is it fair to say that well-being is the most essential ingredient for a productive society? After all, it does play a crucial role in the sustainability, social and economic well-being of our nation.

It's impossible to ignore the soaring personal, social and economic costs of mental ill-health. Whether directly or indirectly, all Australians are affected. It is a now, more than ever, a national imperative.  The future of individuals, businesses, and communities is now inherently tied to their ability to effectively support the well-being of their people.

The workplace has a broadly positive influence on well-being, it can be a vehicle for hope and change. The workplace can be a vehicle that turns discourse about well-being and mental ill-health into action. It can be a vehicle for:

  • Increased social and economic participation that has many benefits for individuals and the community.
  • Tackling social isolation or loneliness, especially where systemic or geographical isolation already exists.

However, this presentation occurs in the increasingly pressing context of the significant rise of mental health conditions as a proportion of overall injuries in the workplace. It is a context that means it has never been more important to move from discourse to action.

So, how can we keep people in good work? How can we find the long-term job detached viable employment? And what is Allianz doing to support sustainable recovery so that individuals, businesses and communities can benefit?

Mark Pittman is the General Manager Government Services.  He leads the strategy and operations for claims and injury management services to federal, state and territory government personal injury schemes. He is a collaborative leader who values innovation and is passionate about finding people-centred solutions that improve the quality of life for workers and provide strong financial results for employers and governments.

Mark has worked across a number of areas in personal injury, from underwriting and distribution, claims and injury management, strategic program development and senior corporate and operational roles.

 11:25am - 12:10pm
11:25am - 12:10pm D3: Working towards a safer culture for nurses and midwives

Louise Botha and Patrice Murray, ACT Health

Resources (PDF, 4.0 MB) are available from this session.

The Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture (NM TASC) project team within ACT Health addressed 22 priority actions that have targeted areas of safety concern in the public health system. The true magnitude of workplace violence for Nurses and Midwives is not fully known, however they are considered at high risk internationally. Broadly, the NM TASC project team across 2018-2021 developed multiple evidence-based initiatives that addressed key insights and risks present in ACT Public Health Services. Initiatives included a community awareness campaign based on market research, high-level governance documents for managing challenging behaviour, leadership support, an evidence-based model that focuses on staff and patient modifiers of behaviour and a clearer view on safe workplace design. All priority actions were further inter-linked with other projects focused on culture change and managing occupational violence. Through the principles of stewardship, consultation, and collaboration the NM TASC project has been able to highlight important measures for keeping Nurses and Midwives safer.

This presentation will focus on key learnings from the NM TASC project planning and implementation of evidence-based strategies at a system-wide level. Working towards a safer culture across multiple public health services requires considerable planning. There is little precedent for this whole of system approach for Nurses and Midwives that addresses a number of priority actions. There were several measures of evaluation that needed to be found, together with key stakeholders, measures were identified such as reduced reporting of physical assaults and increased reporting of verbal assaults to account for changes in reporting as staff became aware of strategies. Further measures were collected to assess education attendance for evidence-based initiatives and incidence of Code Grey and Code Black in the public health services.

Strategies to address priority actions targeted each level of the health system and the broader community as part of a wider culture shift. A community awareness campaign has been developed utilising market research that delivers the message of ‘Be Kind and Respectful to our Nurses and Midwives’. The initial campaign has 35,000+ online interactions since being launched in September 2020, with further videos to be released in November 2020.

 11:25am - 12:10pm
11:25am - 12:10pm D4: Short presentations

Advanced Ordnance Technologies
Shane Dew, Defence Science and Technology Group

Resources (PDF, 1.8 MB) are available from this session.

The Defence Science and Technology Group will be presenting an update on the Advanced Ordnance Technologies project since winning the Prevention Award in the 2021 Comcare National Work Health and Safety Awards.

Digital Health Transformation: Using technology to enhance employee wellbeing
Michelle Barratt, Arriba Group

Resources (PDF, 1.8 MB) are available from this session.

Working in the healthcare industry introduces a range of work health and safety hazards for staff such as burnout associated with working with people with complex needs. Rehab Management has over 200 health professional employees and to provide for our team we have commenced a digital revolution. We aim to support not only our most valued asset, our people, but also to apply our learnings and initiatives to deliver outcomes for clients and customers. Rehab Management has invested in a range of digital tools to improve staff wellbeing and safety, these include:

  • Staff CheckIn – our twice weekly email survey ‘checking in’ on our people by asking them three questions around their health, how they are coping and whether they feel they are getting the support they need. Over 4,00 checkins have been sent with a 75% response rate. Any concerning survey feedback triggers a rapid response from the People and Culture team and the individual’s manager in view of identifying and addressing wellbeing issues early.
  • CheckInToday – our employer focused support program is a mental wellbeing screening and coaching program which is aimed at early identification, and provision of the right services at the right time for employees with emerging wellbeing issues. The program has been delivered to 100’s of emergency service workers and over 80 workers in the WorkSafe Victoria segment. Thus far the intervention has shown a 30% improvement in mental wellbeing scores.
  • Digital Suicide and Self Harm Risk Assessment forms – these are ‘smart’ suicide risk guidance tools that enable the clinician to easily follow clinical guidelines using a digital questionnaire, the form provides a suggested risk level and outlines key actions and timeframes. Where a risk is identified the form will also alert key internal senior psychologists and the relevant team manager to ensure prompt and effective support for the staff member who is managing the crisis. Looking to the future, we see the integration of digital innovation wellbeing tools as a critical step in ushering the work, health and safety industry to the next level.

Death in the transport industry: the life insurance data view
Dr Ross Iles, Monash University

Resources (PDF, 704.1 KB) are available from this session.

This project had the following aims:

  • To explore the feasibility of using life insurance claim data to understand non work-related death claims.
  • To describe the major cause of death claims by Australian transport workers.
  • To determine the number and rate of Australian transport worker death claims by age and cause of death (COD).


Death benefit claims from male transport workers with a date of death between 1st January 2004 and 31st December 2017 were included. The COD descriptions transcribed from the death certificate  were unified and examined to identify the underlying COD, intermediate COD and the immediate COD. Descriptive analysis was performed to summarise the counts  of death benefit claims by COD and age. Death benefit claim rates were calculated using the TWUSUPER annual membership estimates.


Of the 3,386 death benefit claims during the period of 2004 to 2017, more than half were due to cardiovascular disease (26.7%) and cancers (23.6%). External cause of injury (16.7%) and suicide (11.3%) recorded the third and fourth leading COD benefit claims. The top three leading COD benefit claims varied by age  , with external cause of injury and suicide the two leading COD in workers under 40. Suicide was the second leading COD in workers less than 40 years old.


Life insurance claim data has the potential to investigate non work-related health issues for a working population. Cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention should be priority occupational health activities for the transport industry, while mental health and suicide interventions are particularly important for younger workers.

  Concurrent Session E
 1:10pm - 1:55pm
11:25am - 12:10pmE1: COVID-19 lessons learned panel

Across the world, businesses in both government and private industry, have had to pivot to a ‘new-normal’ as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic including adapting to remote and flexible working arrangements. This has placed a greater responsibility on workers and employers with a higher focus on managing mental health.

Join our panel of Chief Operating Officers who will discuss:

  • The impacts of the past two years on their business and the effects on productivity
  • Pivoting to remote and flexible working arrangements, the lessons learned and how they’ve adapted to new ways of working
  • How to ensure the work health and safety of a remote workforce
  • The role of the employer in continuing to manage the mental health of their workers.
 1:10pm - 1:55pm
11:25am - 12:10pmE2: Joining the dots - practical system solutions for strongly siloed organisations

HSIDonesafe logo

Joel Fuller, HSI-Donesafe

Resources (PDF, 2.8 MB) are available from this session.

Despite their best intentions, many organisations still operate in strongly defined silos. Given the resulting separate structures and systems, it means that their differing priorities may not align – reducing the opportunity for optimal injury management.

One of the biggest challenges is measurement. The diversity of priorities and systems creates multiple sources of ‘truth’. This is not just inconvenient or inefficient; it’s a serious barrier to senior managers having an accurate helicopter view of the organisation’s entire Health Safety Environment and Quality world. Without it, they can’t easily see the patterns and trends needed to make the evidence-led funding and resourcing decisions that, ultimately, change people’s lives for the better.

The session considers the above both generally, and, increasingly commonly, in the light of growing mental health claims. What upstream actions can and should occur to help process mental health claims? How should they be measured? How can they be mapped into systems that have traditionally only covered physical injuries? For example, how should we define a mental health ‘near miss’?

Using our collective experience as a muti-national Health Safety Environment and Quality systems and training provider, this session looks at the problems caused by these all-to-common situations, offers some practical solutions (plus common implementation mistakes and how to avoid them).

 1:10pm - 1:55pm
1:10pm - 1:55pmE3: SHIELD – protecting the AFP’s health and wellbeing

Megan Duffy, Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) recognises the unique stressors and inherent risks associated with policing. Through a new evidence-based program known as SHIELD, Australia’s national policing agency is building a clinical workforce to deliver health and wellbeing services to support all AFP employees. As SHIELD approaches its first anniversary, Megan will discuss the impetus and strategy behind the program, how members have responded to the new services on offer, and plans to advance the SHIELD model into the future.

 1:10pm - 1:55pm
1:10pm - 1:55pm E4: Viropsychosocial approach: The ability to earn and learn post-COVID

Emily Baggett, Moray & Agnew Lawyers

Mark Findlay, Back2Work Solutions

What are the implications of the post-COVID workplace and labour market for the effective returning of employees to work? This presentation looks at the challenges and opportunities offered by the social and economic events of 2020-2021 with a focus on suitable duties, retraining through rehabilitation programs, and the ability to earn provisions under the SRC Act.

COVID-19 emphasised the critical importance of a resilient and responsive public service capable of ensuring the continuity of effective public service delivery. The social and economic consequences of COVID-19 have made the successful return of injured employees to work more important than ever. This presentation will look at the challenges and opportunities offered by COVID-19’s disruptive effects on the workplace, particularly on suitable duties, retraining through rehabilitation programs, and the ability to earn provisions under the SRC Act.

Our panel includes the CEO of a leading rehabilitation provider and a senior lawyer in the Comcare scheme, who will provide expert insights in relation to issues for employers, rehabilitation authorities, injury managers and claims managers.

 1:10pm - 1:55pm
1:10pm - 1:55pm E5: Short presentations

Dr John McMahon, Navigator Group

Resources (PDF, 1.4 MB) are available from this session.

Following a compensable injury, the success of an Injured Person’s recovery is closely linked to the way that a person responds psychologically to their injuries. Challenges navigating the claims process can also contribute to this response leading to adverse impacts on return to health.

During this time of heightened emotion, independent and specialised support required to be able to deal with these psychosocial issues has not been historically available in personal injury schemes. People can be left to their own devices to manage these issues with a broad spectrum of results being seen.

To assist our Injured People to get their lives back together following their injuries and support people to manage some of these issues, QBE has engaged the Navigator Program.

Navigator is an independent support program that utilises phone-based contact to speak with Injured People about their recovery. The Navigators are trained counsellors who assist with identification of psychosocial factors and interventions that impact injury recovery.

The program uses the principle of early intervention and is designed to reduce periods of incapacity, decrease the number and severity of secondary psych issues and improve Injured Person satisfaction with the claim and recovery process. The Navigator will also assess situations where more formal psychological treatment would be of benefit to promote recovery.

Independently verified results have shown an up to 6% faster return to work and health when compared to a control group with significant Injured Person satisfaction measures also being recorded across a large segment of claims, showing a significant impact on the target cohort. Further to this, we have seen lower than expected rates of referral for formal psychological treatment showing that the informal support being accessible in the earliest stage of a claims process as possible is proving effective in preventing adverse psychological responses to injury.

The program has been offered to over 3000 Injured Worker’s across our Worker’s Compensation businesses with benefit being shown in both recovery and customer satisfaction measures.

Predicting farmers’ mental health status from text-based counselling transcripts
Dr Dominique Estival, Western Sydney University

Resources (PDF, 1.5 MB) are available from this session.

Australian farmers living in rural and remote areas face a unique combination of stressors, placing them at elevated risk of mental health problems. They also have poorer access to mental health services than those living in Australian cities. Compounding the problem of fewer available services are barriers to help-seeking, such as stigma and entrenched stoicism. E-mental health services have the potential to circumvent the barriers faced by clients in rural and remote communities using technology. Text-based services are particularly well suited to addressing the needs of Australians in rural and remote communities because they offer a level of anonymity not possible in traditional face-to-face, video-, or audio-based delivery methods, making them appealing to clients concerned with stigma, self-presentation and privacy.

Moreover, they allow the client to reflect on the therapy session after it has ended as the transcript is stored on their phone (or another device). The text transcript also offers researchers an opportunity to analyse language use patterns and explore how these relate to mental health status. In this collaborative project between the NSW Government’s Centre for Work Health and Safety and Western Sydney University, we investigated whether computational linguistic techniques can be applied to text-based communications with the goal of identifying a client’s mental health status.

The results confirmed that word use patterns could be used to differentiate whether a client had one of the top three presenting problems (depression, anxiety, or stress), as well as predict their self-rated mental health after counselling had concluded. These findings suggest that language use patterns are useful both for researchers and for clinicians trying to identify individuals at risk of mental health problems. Potential applications of this approach include screening and targeted interventions, and these may be adapted for different work contexts and populations of interest.

  Concurrent Session F
 2:05pm - 2:50pm
2:05pm - 2:50pmF1: Comcare’s Regulatory Update: New risks, new approaches

Justin Napier and Bev Smith, Comcare

Resources (PDF, 2.6 MB) are available from this session.

Comcare will provide an update on the regulator’s key priorities and discuss emerging WHS risks and Comcare's regulatory approach.

 2:05pm - 2:50pm
1:10pm - 1:55pmF2: The Driving Health Survey – Health and Wellbeing of Australian Truck Drivers

Dr Caryn Van Vreden, Monash University

Resources (PDF, 1.9 MB) are available from this session.

The occupational burden of truck driving on the health and wellbeing of professional drivers is well established. Truck drivers have significantly elevated risk of workplace injuries like fractures and work-related fatalities, relative to other male dominated industries. However, transport accidents only account for 17% of the disability burden of work-related injury/illness, highlighting the knowledge gap of factors contributing to poor health in drivers.

The Driving Health study conducted the largest national survey investigating the personal, health and work factors that significantly impact the health and wellbeing of Australian professional truck drivers. The cross-sectional online survey incorporated validated measures such as the Kessler 6 psychological distress questionnaire, the Work Ability Index and Euroqol-5D measure of health-related quality-of-life to clearly describe factors contributing to poor health and driving outcomes.

The survey was completed by 1390 drivers, 97% male, representing drivers from broad age groups and professional experience. Both owner (13%) and employee (87%) drivers participated, including short- (61%) and long- (39%) haul drivers.  Obesity was identified in 54%, higher than the national average for men (33%). Over a third reported back problems (35%) and 26% high blood-pressure. Thirty percent reported having three or more specific diagnosed health conditions, which significantly increased poorer outcomes across all health and driving outcome measured. Mental health conditions (depression and anxiety) were diagnosed in 19% of drivers. Additionally, the proportion of younger drivers (<35yrs) (22%) suffering from severe psychological distress was nearly double that of the average Australian male (12%), with the odds of a younger driver having severe psychological distress 4.28 times (CI 3.13-5.87, p<0.001) that of older drivers (>60yrs). Nearly a third of drivers rated themselves as being in poor general health (30%), compared to the 16% average of Australian men. Over two thirds reported experiencing some level of chronic pain, which had persisted for more than a year.

These results provide a health profile of Australian professional drivers, and clearly identify the elevated health risks that drivers are facing. This data will aid in the development and evaluation of evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to improve the overall wellbeing of the Australian truck driver.

 2:05pm - 2:50pm
2:05pm - 2:50pmF3: Mindarma: a proactive approach to workplace mental health

Dr Sadhbh Joyce, Mindarma

Mindarma is an award-winning holistic program teaching practice skills and strategies to help bolster psychological resilience and wellbeing. Mindarma has since been adopted as a core workplace mental health initiative by numerous organisations including Ambulance Victoria, New South Wales Ambulance, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Health, UNICEF, Reuters, Department of Communities and Justice NSW, WorkSafe ACT, TAFE Queensland, Business Victoria, Mercy Health Services, Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA, UNSW- LAW, Queensland Fire and Rescue, Queensland SES, Queensland RFS, NSW Health Pathology and the NSW Ministry of Health. Dr Joyce will provide an overview of the program and an update on how the evidence-based program is progressing within workplaces.

 2:05pm - 2:50pm
2:05pm - 2:50pm F4: Short presentations

Early Intervention - positive outcomes in the public sector
Megan Buick, Comcare

Resources (PDF, 1.8 MB) are available from this session.

Strong evidence suggests that offering immediate support and treatment (‘early intervention’) to an employee who experiences an injury, illness or symptom that impacts on their ability to work can support the employee to recover and return to work in a timely manner. It also has other positive impacts such as improving safety culture and providing secondary prevention opportunities.

Comcare designed a trial to test the effectiveness of a structured early intervention service in partnership with three government departments, over a six-month period and measure its impact. Through a nurse triage service, underpinned by a clinical framework, employees were provided with clinical advice to manage their injury or illness. If advised, employees could access up to four appointments each with a general practitioner, physiotherapist or psychologist at no cost to support their treatment and recovery. Participation in the pilot did not preclude an employee’s right to lodge a worker’s compensation claim at any time.

This presentation will report on the outcomes of this pilot, which measured the impact on:

  • the duration of actual, or emerging symptoms of, injury or illness that affected an employee’s ability to work,
  • the likelihood of development of a chronic and/or secondary condition,
  • recovery at and return to work,
  • a positive and responsive safety culture,
  • opportunities to identify, report and address health issues affecting employees,
  • actuarial and cost benefit analysis.

The presentation will describe lessons learned during implementation of the pilot, and showcase tools and resources for employers developed from the knowledge translation plan.

Innovation to sustain RTW & recovery outcomes following psychological injury
Amelia Flores, Resilia

Resilia is the product of 20 years of research into workplace psychological injury by Australia’s leader in the field of workplace mental health, the Centre for Corporate Health. Having assessed over 10,000 psychological injury claims, Resilia has an evidence-based background to inform all psychological consulting services. Resilia is a national workplace rehabilitation provider specialising in psychological injury.

To achieve strong recovery outcomes in both compensable and non-compensable schemes, Resilia developed The Resilience Box®. A one-on-one comprehensive psychological wellbeing program, specifically designed to strengthen personal resilience for employees experiencing poor mental health or psychological injury. The program has been developed from the latest worldwide evidence-based research in positive psychology, neuropsychology, cognitive and strengths-based psychology to achieve meaningful and lasting self-directed behaviour change. This educational/coaching program targets personal underlying contributing factors that lead to psychological injury and assists participants in recovering from existing psychological injury, and mitigating future relapses.

A statistical analysis of our outcome data on measures of emotional resilience, wellbeing and psychological symptomology conducted in 2019- 2020 showed significant improvement across all areas tested for all program participants through pre and post program inventories. The domains tested include:

Wechsler Emotional Resilience Scale

The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale Depression, Anxiety and Stress scale

Results demonstrate statistically significant improvement in positive behaviour change for participants. When used within a compensation population, it ultimately results in improved RTW and health recovery outcomes thereby achieving significant cost savings and improved quality of life for participants. Post-program data demonstrates evidence of improved wellbeing which has been translated to improved work capacity. Specifically, post-program scores for the DASS show a 60% improvement in self-reported symptoms, and a 65% improvement in the WEMWBS. Furthermore, 100% of participants either obtained a medical upgrade during their participation in the program or maintained full working hours.

Resilia welcomes the opportunity to co-present a case study of The Resilience Box® methodology used within an emergency services population of psychological injury claims to showcase the content and methodology, including its centralised digital wellbeing support platform, and how The Resilience Box has been used to support frontline workers with recovery and wellbeing outcomes.

COVID-19 and the changing landscape of rehabilitation services
Drew Schultz, IPAR

Resources (PDF, 644.4 KB) are available from this session.

The impact of Covid-19 on people and workplaces across Australia and the world was sudden and allowed little time for preparation. Within hours, the Prime Minister was advising a vast number of Australians to work from home. The most immediate implication for workplace rehabilitation providers was that the workplace was now the employee’s home. This meant that meeting face-to-face became a limited option (if available at all), as well as the ability to conduct a face-to-face review of the workplace and duties.

Even though many employees were setting up their new workplaces, referrals for workplace ergonomic reviews fell dramatically within the initial months of working from home. In time, as employers realised that this new way of working was going to continue for the foreseeable future, referrals for virtual ergonomic assessments of the home/work environment became the norm.  Workplace rehabilitation providers quickly adapted to using videoconferencing platforms, but this raised a number of issues around security, privacy and contractual requirements.

As we progress to a ‘Covid normal’ time, arrangements for the utilisation of workplace rehabilitation providers and how they can be best utilised to support employee health, recovery and a safe and sustainable return to work must be established. It is acknowledged that there are many unknown factors at play, which may have significant impacts on people, workplaces and the Comcare scheme in the longer term if not well managed. This includes issues around social isolation, inconsistent access to and capability of technology, limited management oversight, presenteeism, productivity and more.

Learnings from the perspective of a workplace rehabilitation provider delivering services during the initial phases of covid-related restrictions will be shared and discussed, along with how these experiences are informing and being adapted for future service delivery.

Major Sponsors

Comcare acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and acknowledges their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.