Join us for an exciting program of speakers, panels and networking opportunities that will offer delegates professional development by challenging, inspiring and advancing knowledge in work health and safety.

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Day 1 - Tuesday 7 June 2022

Click on each session to find out more
7:30am - 6.30pm7:30am - 6.30pmRegistration open
8:30am - 5:30pm8:30am - 5:00pm Exhibition open
9:00am - 9:15am
9.00am - 9:15am Official Conference Opening

Join Master of Ceremonies, Ellen Fanning as she officially opens the 2022 Comcare National Conference. Ellen will be joined by the Comcare CEO to provide a welcome address, and an Acknowledgement of Country performance by Wiradjuri Echoes.

In her 20 years as an award-winning public affairs journalist, Ellen Fanning has interviewed every Australian Prime Minister from Sir John Grey Gorton to Malcolm Turnbull.

She has reported politics from Canberra to the White House while her broader career has taken her to locations as diverse as the North Pole, an airline refuelling fighter jets over Bosnia and a Collins Class submarine deep in the Indian Ocean.

She spent the first ten years of her career at the ABC where she presented both the AM and PM current affairs radio programs. She also served as the ABC’s Washington correspondent. She was later a reporter on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes and the last presenter of Nine’s Sunday program.

Ellen co-presents ABC TV’s “The Drum” and is regularly seen and heard on ABC TV’s 730 and on ABC Radio around Australia. We look forward to welcoming Ellen as our MC for the 2022 Comcare National Conference.

Ellen FanningEllen Fanning

Ellen Fanning

9:15am - 10:00am
9.15am - 10.00am Keynote 1: How to embrace intelligent optimism and adapt in a new era
Future Crunch

The world is becoming a better place. Poverty is disappearing, war deaths are falling, violence is less common, people are becoming more tolerant, suicide is decreasing, life expectancy is increasing, literacy is on the rise, child mortality is declining. Yet most people have no idea that this is happening.

This session allows delegates to imagine new futures and direct their energies towards creating a better world for everyone, and an economy that doesn’t cost the earth. It’s a story about people who are coming up with solutions to some of the big problems of our time. It's about opportunities, rather than threats. It's a story that's informed by intelligent, evidence-based optimism.

Learn how our cognitive biases distort our view of the world, making us feel unnecessarily pessimistic, and preventing us from achieving our true potential. Delegates will walk away with a renewed sense of hope, purpose, and commitment to problem solving, innovation and organisational change.

Tané is a cancer researcher, bio-informatician, and science communicator. He is a co-founder at Future Crunch. He has a Masters in Bioinformatics from the University of Melbourne, and has worked for the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital diagnosing rare genetic diseases. He is currently completing his PhD at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, using molecular biomarkers in DNA and analysing them with artificial intelligence to improve treatments for people suffering from cancer. He's also a former United States mountain biking champion and an avid sailor.

Rhea is an accredited exercise physiologist who has spent 15 years decoding human rehabilitation and recovery. Working throughout her career as a business owner, Rhea understands the challenge of balancing the ‘mission and margin’ of healthcare practice. Finding her passion in workers compensation, Rhea’s core focus has been on humanising healthcare and encouraging other professionals to bring their flare, personality, and humanity inside the treatment room. Alongside her mentoring and training work, Rhea is the host of The Intelligent Rebellion Podcast and author of “Compo - A Rehabilitation Consultant’s Journey.”

Tané HunterTané Hunter

Tané Hunter

Cancer Scientist

Rhea MercadoRhea Mercado

Rhea Mercado

Healthcare Humanist

10:00am - 10:30am Morning Tea
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.

Dion Devow is the Managing Director of Yerra, Owner of Darkies Designs and 2018 ACT Australian of the Year. Dion has worked in Indigenous affairs for over 20 years and has been honoured for his outstanding service to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business community. Dion has a passion for celebrating diversity in Australia and will share his personal experience of working as a conduit between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to bring people of all nationalities together.

Dion DevowDion Devow

Dion Devow

2018 ACT Australian of the Year, Managing Director of Yerra

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.

Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM was appointed as the inaugural Commissioner for Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management with the Department of Premier and Cabinet from 1 May 2020.

He is currently the chair of the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC), the State Recovery Committee (SRC), Board of Commissioners (BOC) and the National Emergency Medal Committee (NEMC). This appointment followed a distinguished career with the NSW Rural Fire Service of over 35 years, serving as both a volunteer and salaried member.

During the period of September 2007-April 2020 he was the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service and was the voice and face of reason for the state during the summer bushfires of 2019-2020.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons has been awarded the Rural Fire Service Long-Service Medal for more than 30 years, the National Medal in recognition of more than 35 years, and the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM). He has most recently been announced as the 2021 NSW Australian of the Year, and the Australian Father of the Year 2020 through The Shepherd Centre.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons will bring his extensive career experience to our panel session: Crisis management and the impacts on resilience and mental health.

Hugh van Cuylenburg, Founder of The Resilience Project has been working in education for over 15 years, teaching both primary and secondary in a range of educational settings. The highlight of his teaching career was the year he spent in the far north of India volunteering and living at an underprivileged school in the Himalayas. It was here that he discovered resilience in its purest form.

Inspired by this experience Hugh returned to Melbourne and commenced working on his own program for schools. ‘The Resilience Project’ was born. Having completed his post graduate studies, looking at resilience and well-being, Hugh has developed and facilitated programs for over 900 schools Australia wide.

In 2015, the National Rugby League asked Hugh to run workshops at every club in the competition. Since then, he has worked with the Australian Cricket Team, the Australian Netball Team, the Australian Women’s Soccer Team, The Jillaroos and 10 AFL teams.

Hugh is also a best-selling author and co-host of the popular podcast, The Imperfects and brings his wealth of experience to our panel session: Crisis management and the impacts on resilience and mental health.

Christine Morgan is the CEO of the National Mental Health Commission and National Suicide Prevention Adviser to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Christine is a passionate leader in mental health care reform, committed to listening and responding to the voice and needs of those with lived experience.

Prior to joining the Commission, Christine was CEO of the Butterfly Foundation for eating disorders and Director of the National Eating Disorders Collaboration. In the not-for-profit sector, Christine was General Manager at Wesley Mission, over the areas of Corporate Services and Community & Family Development. Prior to joining Wesley Mission, Christine was Executive General Manager responsible for managing the strategic direction and business unit effectiveness of the Wholesale, Broadband & Media Business Unit at Telstra.

Christine brings connection and passion to mental health reform, built on the networks she established in the corporate world, to our panel session: Crisis management and the impacts on resilience and mental health.

Shane FitzsimmonsShane Fitzsimmons

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM

Resilience NSW

Hugh Van CuylenburgHugh Van Cuylenburg

Hugh Van Cuylenburg

Founder, The Resilience Project

Christine MorganChristine Morgan

Christine Morgan

CEO, National Mental Health Commission

Concurrency indicatorTimeActivityCategory
12:00pm - 1:00pm12:00pm - 1:00pm Lunch  
  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

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.

As the Assistant Secretary Work Health and Safety, in the Department of Defence, John enables Defence capability through return to work service and timely work health and safety advice, guidance and support. John leads Defence’s approach to mental health and wellbeing for their APS, and shifting views to consider the lifetime wellbeing of current and former serving ADF members. John continues to champion an early intervention approach in coordination with his peers and across whole-of-government.

Dayna has over 15 years’ experience in strategic research and cultural change initiatives in both the public and private sectors. She has delivered complex programs both in Australia and internationally, including developing better practice policy and frameworks across multiple jurisdictions.

In addition, Dayna spent 7 years as Chair of a network for LGBT employees, which helped to frame her passion for improving workplace cultures and ensuring that everyone feels able to be their best self at work. In this role, she led an annual program of work which resulted in her organisation being named as one of the Top 100 employers for LGBT staff each year.

John Love John Love

John Love

Assistant Secretary Work Health and Safety Branch, Department of Defence

Dayna Fawkes  Dayna Fawkes

Dayna Fawkes

Assistant Director, Research & Engagement, Comcare

 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.

Tanya is a Principal Advisor in the Psychological Health Unit and is passionate about the importance of mental health, with a particular interest in the areas of suicide prevention, domestic and family violence and sexual harassment. Tanya has a science degree majoring in psychology and is currently studying a Master of Counselling. She has worked for the Workplace Health and Safety regulator for over 20 years with a wealth of experience as an Inspector, Investigator as well as various other roles within the organisation. Regulation of psychological health and safety at work is Tanya’s expertise and part of her current role involves developing tools and resources for internal and external stakeholders in this space. Tanya delivers workshops, presentations, training and is a subject matter expert in psychological health and safety.

Sam PoppleTanya Orszulak

Tanya Orszulak

Principal Advisor in the Psychological Health Unit, Office of Industrial Relations QLD

 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.

A qualified Exercise Physiologist by background, Chris is the Head of Healthcare for QBE People Risk Claims and has an interest in all thing’s injury management. With extensive experience across Worker's Compensation and CTP Claims businesses his passion is in development and implementation of claims programs centred around injured person recovery and high value care. Further to this Chris has a particular focus on the role that the Insurer takes in continuing to become more embedded in the treatment and recovery planning process rather than just being seen as a funder.

Chris Rymer Chris Rymer

Chris Rymer

Head of Healthcare, QBE Insurance Australia

 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

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.

Rosemary Waldron-HartfieldRosemary Waldron-Hartfield

Rosemary Waldron-Hartfield

Partner, Moray & Agnew Lawyers

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

Geniere Aplin and Laura Youl, EML

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.

Geniere AplinGeniere Aplin

Geniere Aplin


Laura YoulLaura Youl

Laura Youl

Manager Growth & Strategy, Partnership, EML

Rosemary Waldron-Hartfield is Partner in Moray & Agnew Lawyers and is very experienced in providing advice on the management of claims under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. This includes advising on claims for the provision of medicinal cannabis to treat chronic pain and to reduce the use of opioid medication in cases of opioid dependency. She considers that it is very likely that the number of claims for medicinal cannabis will steadily increase, and while it is currently generally difficult to justify the use of medicinal cannabis, the prospects of these claims being successful will also improve over time.

Geniere Aplin is the CEO of EML Solutions and is an experienced Non-Executive Director. Her executive experience spans a range of industries including Personal and Commercial Insurance, Banking, Law and Regulation in private, mutual, and public sectors.

She has over 20 years of executive experience leading high performing organisations with vision and purpose.

Her proven success in financial services includes profit and loss experience in building, growing, merging, acquiring, regulating, and divesting businesses.

Geniere has a proven track record of growing and building organisational capabilities to increase sustainable competitive advantage, customer satisfaction and employee engagement. She is a highly sought-after speaker and is recognised as a strong and trusted voice within the Australian business community and beyond.

Geniere graduated with an MBA (Executive) from the Australian Graduate School of Management for which she was awarded the Chairman’s Prize. She also holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology and is a Graduate of the AICD (GAICD).

Laura is a senior change leader with experience and success in innovation and strategy, cost containment, health and safety risk management and improving front line service delivery. With over 13 years industry experience, Laura’s Occupational Therapy background has assisted her to deliver solutions to clients across Australia. Laura’s career has focused on providing transformational change to employers and industry whilst keeping the individual front and center. Her experience as a co-founder of a health and safety business has added strength to her ability to guide organisations on workforce management strategies that aligns with operations, finance and human resources. Laura is passionate about personal injury insurance, health and safety regulations and organizational culture change.

  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

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.

Associate Professor Jodi Oakman leads the Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors at La Trobe University. She began her career as a physiotherapist before undertaking a Masters degree in Ergonomics. She worked in a range of industry settings as an Ergonomist before moving to Academia.

Associate Professor Oakman is the current holder of a MRFF TRIP Fellowship, which is focussed on translating research evidence into practice in the area of MSD prevention. During this fellowship she will be training occupational health practitioners in the use of the APHIRM (A Participative Hazard Identification and Risk Management) Toolkit. APHIRM was developed by a team at La Trobe University and is based on contemporary research evidence on MSDs. It supports workplaces to participatively develop a comprehensive set of risk controls for both physical and psychosocial hazards and reduce the risk of MSDs.

She is currently leading a range of projects on the influences of working at home on health and well-being, women, work and COVID-19 and barriers to implementing evidence informed approaches to MSD prevention.

>Dr Jodi Oakman>Dr Jodi Oakman

Dr Jodi Oakman

Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors, La Trobe University

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

Dr Vera Newman, Behavioural Insights Team

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.

Vera is a Research Advisor at BIT’s Sydney office. She completed a PhD at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, in 2019. Vera provides strategic research advice across various policy areas, including health, wellbeing and work health and safety. Vera was the research lead on a previous project investigating the work health and safety experiences of Aboriginal workers, generating actionable recommendations to improve the work health and safety practices of vulnerable workers. In addition, Vera has also provided research oversight on various research methodologies, including research incorporating qualitative and quantitative work via stakeholder interviews, textual analyses, and experiential research. For example, Vera has worked on a project aiming to improve COVID-safe behaviours among vulnerable populations.

Saul is an Associate Advisor at BIT’s Sydney office, and predominantly works in the areas of WHS, gender equality, education, climate change and the environment. He conducts primary research and works on various project phases, including initial literature reviews, qualitative research, facilitation of workshops, trial and solution design and implementation, and reporting of results and recommendations. Recently Saul worked with the Centre for Work Health and Safety focusing on work health and safety for food delivery workers in the gig economy. Saul conducted various qualitative research methods with food delivery workers to understand their perspective of health and safety risks on the job. This included conducting qualitative interviews, textual analysis of social media posts, field observations and a service safari by signing up as a food delivery worker to understand the “on-the-ground” perspective. Previously, Saul has Worked with VicHealth to promote bystander behaviour against sexism and sexual harassment in Victorian workplaces.

>Dr Vera Newman>Dr Vera Newman

Dr Vera Newman

Research Advisor, Behavioural Insights Team

>Saul Wodak>Saul Wodak

Saul Wodak

Associate Advisor, Behavioural Insight’s Team

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

Hailey Buchhorn and Riley Bartholomew, Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation

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.

Hailey Buchhorn Hailey Buchhorn

Hailey Buchhorn

Business Relationship Manager, Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation

Riley Bartholomew Riley Bartholomew

Riley Bartholomew

Area Manager Canberra & Tasmania, Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation

Over the past four years, Riley has worked with Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation in providing the Canberra region with community-based treatment across multiple personal injury schemes. With the overwhelming evidence base outlining the importance of exercise and healthy lifestyle as a tool for psychological injuries, Riley and his colleagues have pushed to include exercise and whole being health as a foundational fucus throughout the entire recovery process of work-related psychological injuries.

Hailey has been an Accredited Exercise Physiologist for over 8 years. In this time, Hailey has worked across roles in Community Health, Occupational Rehabilitation and most recently in the provision of quality exercise services for those under a personal injury claim at Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation. Hailey has been heavily involved in the introduction of exercise programs for those with a psychological injury, and is passionate about providing access to best practice treatments and returning individuals to a heightened level of wellness. Hailey is a firm believer in empowering individuals to be an active participant of their recovery, and building frameworks for recovery that will yield sustainable outcomes.

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

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

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.

    Sue YatesSue Yates

    Sue Yates

    Safety Manager, SBS - Special Broadcasting Service

    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.

    Dr Lee HuuskesDr Lee Huuskes

    Dr Lee Huuskes

    Senior Research Officer, Centre for Work Health and Safety

    The Collaborative Partnership to improve work participation
    Kim Thrift, Comcare

    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.

    Kim ThriftKim Thrift

    Kim Thrift

    Assistant Director Strategic Programs, Comcare

Sue Yates is Safety Manager at SBS - Special Broadcasting Service. She has worked across a broad range of organisations and industries in her career, and has a background in Risk Management, Applied Science, Training and Disability Management.

As an experienced WHS professional, her passions are WHS strategy development, system review, and the design of psychological wellbeing programs.

Lee has extensive experience in applied research and evaluation across a diverse range of subject matter, including environmental social science, energy and health, disaster recovery, and psychology. Lee has expertise in quantitative and qualitative methods, survey design, longitudinal research, and evaluation. Lee previously held research positions within the NSW Government and at the University of Technology Sydney, and has a PhD in social psychology from the University of Wollongong.

Kim is an Assistant Director in the Strategic Partnership and Engagement Group specialising in increasing work participation for people with a health condition or disability. Kim has worked for over 15 years building organisational capability and driving behavioural change across the public sector in the disability and health domains. With Kim’s deep understanding and extensive experience working collaboratively with industry leaders and executive level stakeholders, she has devoted her career to leading national cross-sector collaboration to drive system-wide change. Kim’s strategic ability to connect systemic level problems to practical solutions ultimately works towards ensuring that every Australian has the opportunity to participate in good work.

2:40pm - 3:15pm2:40pm - 3:15pm Afternoon tea  
  Concurrent Session C
 3:15pm - 4:00pm
3:15pm - 4:00pm C1: The New Now

eReports logo

Preparing for the trends that will dominate a post-COVID world. The coronavirus pandemic acted like a time machine bringing 2030 forward to 2020. As the turmoil subsides and a new era dawn, smart leaders are turning their attention to where opportunity now lies and how to gear up for the future.

In this fast-paced & compelling keynote presentation, audiences will discover:

    The COVID-inspired shifts in consumer habits and expectations that are here to stay
  • The key ways in which artificial intelligence, quantum computing and augmented reality have accelerated rapidly during the pandemic and how this offers exciting new possibilities for those that are prepared
  • The role that GEN Z are playing in redefining industry norms and how to win in a post-Millennial marketplace
  • How to foster engagement, collaboration and culture when leading remote and hybrid teams.

Audience members will leave this presentation with a clear and practical game plan for navigating the new now.

Michael McQueenMichael McQueen

Michael McQueen

Speaker, Author and Futurist

Michael McQueen is a multi-award winning speaker, trend forecaster and bestselling author of 9 books.

With clients including KPMG, Pepsi and Cisco, he has helped some of the world’s most successful brands navigate disruption and maintain momentum.

In addition to featuring regularly as a commentator on TV and radio, Michael is a familiar face on the international conference circuit having shared the stage with the likes of Bill Gates, Dr. John Maxwell and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Michael has spoken to over 500,000 people across 5 continents since 2004, and is known for his engaging, entertaining and practical conference presentations.

Having been formerly named Australia’s Keynote Speaker of the Year, Michael has been inducted into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame.

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

Mark Belanti, Carfi

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.

Mark Belanti is a Psychologist and Director of Carfi. Mark has over 17 years’ experience in managing psychological health issues at all levels of organisations in the private and public sector and across various workers compensation schemes. Mark has expertise in assisting organisations to provide strategic workplace health, rehabilitation and dispute resolution strategies and to support and coach leaders to deal with issues impacting on employee health, behaviour and performance. Mark provides psychological injury management, psychological treatment, workplace mental health consultancy, training, coaching, facilitation and mediation.

Mark BelantiMark Belanti

Mark Belanti

Psychologist and Director, Carfi

 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

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.

Georgina Lamb, National Account Manager at occupational rehabilitation provider IPAR, is a physiotherapist with 15 years’ experience in healthcare and insurance and a co-winner of the Health Benefits of Good Work Signatories’ Steering Group Chair Award for her contribution to the HBOGW Initiative. While leading IPAR’s life insurance service division, Georgina identified a gap in cancer survivorship care: a lack of services specifically designed to support cancer survivors’ return to work as part of their return to wellness. Georgina played a key role in the development of IPAR’s Beyond Cancer program, working as part of the project team with MedHealth’s Research & Innovation unit, academics from Monash and Curtin Universities, and the Cancer Council.

Dr Dianne Sheppard began her independent research career in 1999 as a post-doctoral research fellow working in cognition and neuropsychology at the University of Wales, Bangor. Following her return to Monash University in 2002, she worked for 10 years in the School of Psychology as a lecturer / senior lecturer where she developed her own research agenda. With now over 20 years research experience, Dr Sheppard is a Senior Research Fellow at MedHealth and the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) at the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC). Key areas of research expertise include risk screening for chronicity and facilitating returning to work for those with chronic conditions and work-related or MVA injury. Recent grants and publications have focused on work-related disability prevention, in particular, screening for psychosocial barriers that increase risk of delayed recovery and designing and implementing tailored interventions to improve work readiness and facilitate return to work. Of note, in 2019 Dianne was awarded an NBCF grant to develop, implement and evaluate an innovative, tailored ‘return to work support’ intervention for breast cancer survivors. Dr Sheppard has had considerable experience with research and evaluation project management, intervention design and implementation and leading research translation (report dissemination, conference presentations and journal publications).

Georgina Lamb Georgina Lamb

Georgina Lamb

Key Account Manager, IPAR

Dianne Shepphard Dianne Shepphard

Dr Dianne Shepphard

Senior Research Fellow, IPAR

 3:15pm - 4:00pm
3:15pm - 4:00pm C4: Influencing positive change - managing psychosocial hazards for mentally healthier NSW workplaces

Alexandra Rowe, SafeWork NSW

Alexandra will cover what SafeWork NSW have seen and learnt in NSW and our approach to helping workplaces. The presentation will include:
  • The regulatory framework
  • overview of psychosocial regulation and risk assessment
  • challenges of regulating and complying
  • tips for managing psychosocial hazards at your workplace (i.e. what not to do).

Alexandra Rowe advocates for a wholistic approach to managing work health and safety to create and maintain not only physical but also mentally healthy workplaces across NSW. Alex has been a safety inspector at SafeWork NSW for 14 years and is a passionate educator of workplaces and the SafeWork NSW inspectorate to understand how psychosocial hazards at work can be managed so that workers and business can be safe, healthy and productive.

Alex spent several years in the Psychological Health and Safety team at SafeWork NSW where she undertook complex investigations in psychosocial hazards including workplace bullying, violence and sexual harassment. This team developed the Code of Practice for Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work, the first such code in Australia. This year Alex has joined SafeWork NSW’s Operational Practice team as a State Inspector where she continues to influence contemporary regulation and a wholistic view of work health and safety.

Alexandra RowelAlexandra Rowe

Alexandra Rowe

State Inspector Operational Practice, SafeWork NSW

 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

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.

Sam is a highly experienced HR practitioner and is the Implementation Lead within the APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit (the Unit), Australian Public Service Commission. Sam supports agencies to operationalise the APS Mental Health Capability Framework and has authored a range of agency transformation tools including the framework’s Maturity Scale Assessment tool. Sam has over ten years’ experience as a HR specialist in the APS and prior to joining the Unit was the Assistant Manager of the former APS Mental Health Capability Taskforce at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Sam JunorSam Junor

Sam Junor

Framework Implementation Lead, APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit, Australian Public Service Commission

4:10pm - 4:55pm
4:10pm - 4:55pm Keynote 4: PTSD - A personal story
Belinda Neil

As a result of her career and understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Belinda will take delegates on a journey sharing her work experiences in some of the most dangerous and high-risk areas in policing and talks about the effect of this work, how she succumbed to PTSD and severe depression along with the personal toll on her ability to function.

In her session PTSD: A personal story, Belinda will explain how to recognise and cope with such events and how to minimise their impact while outlining her road to recovery. She will highlight the importance of communication and conflict resolution, how to deal with difficult people and effective negotiation within the workplace.

Belinda Neil had more extraordinary experiences before she was thirty-five than most people have in a lifetime – working as an undercover operative, saving lives as a hostage negotiator, heading up an elite counter-terrorist team during the Sydney Olympics, and catching some of the worst criminals in NSW.

As a result of her career and understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Belinda will take delegates on a journey sharing her work experiences in some of the most dangerous and high-risk areas in policing and talks about the effect of this work, how she succumbed to PTSD and severe depression along with the personal toll on her ability to function.

In her session PTSD: A personal story, Belinda will explain how to recognise and cope with such events and how to minimise their impact while outlining her road to recovery. She will highlight the importance of communication and conflict resolution, how to deal with difficult people and effective negotiation within the workplace.

Belinda NeilBelinda Neil

Belinda Neil

4:55pm - 5:00pmDay 1 Closing
6:30pm - 10:30pm
6:30pm - 10:30pm 2022 Comcare National Conference Dinner

EML - logo - Mutual since 1910

Join conference delegates, sponsors and exhibitors at the 2022 Comcare National Conference Dinner, sponsored by EML. The dinner, held in the National Ballroom, will include a celebration of the winners and finalists of the 2021 Comcare National Work Health and Safety Awards.

Our guest speaker Mitch Wallis, is the Founder and CEO of Heart On My Sleeve - a worldwide social movement that is one of the fastest growing mental wellbeing initiatives in Australia. He is also the Founder of REAL Mates, a mental health training and peer support organisation and he is devoted to helping solve the single biggest issue facing his generation - mental health. Mitch will be presenting his story of what it means to be human at the 2022 Comcare National Conference Dinner.

Mitch Wallis is one of the most recognisable faces in mental health. He is a leader in the wellbeing space with a lifelong mission to empower others to feel understood. After working for Microsoft in Australia and abroad for almost 7 years, he left his successful corporate career to devote himself full time to helping overcome suffering and re-imagine the healing potential of the mind through the power of storytelling, connection and living with authenticity. Mitch has delivered keynote presentations to tens of thousands of people, including some of the most recognised companies in the world. He is a serial well-being entrepreneur - most well known for being the founder of Heart On My Sleeve - a leading global mental health movement and services provider. He is the author of “Real Conversations” a mental health training curriculum that’s been distributed to hundreds of thousands of people, and he is the creator of “REAL Mates” an innovative peer support program of accredited mental health representatives in workplaces across Australia. He is a workplace wellbeing consultant - helping companies transform culture and create thriving organisations. He has been an expert advisor to the United Nations on the topic of youth mental health. Mitch has a Master of Psychology degree from Columbia University in New York and a Bachelor degree in Commerce from the University of Sydney. Most importantly, Mitch has over 20 years lived experience with mental ill health, facing life threatening breakdowns at times, and will talk about what it means to be human.

Mitch WallisMitch Wallis

Mitch Wallis

Founder and CEO, Heart On My Sleeve

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Day 2 - Wednesday 8 June 2022

Click on each session to find out more
7:30am - 3.30pm7:30am - 3.30pm Registration open
8:30am - 3:30pm8:30am - 3:30pm Exhibition open
9:00am - 9.15am
9.00am - 9:15am Day 2 conference open

Join MC Ellen Fanning as she opens Day 2 of the 2022 Comcare National Conference.

9:15am - 10:00am
9:15 am - 10:00 am Keynote 5: Safety Differently - what, why and how
Professor Sidney Dekker

Safety Differently is the name given to a movement that challenges leaders to view three key areas of their business differently – how safety is defined, the role of the people, and the focus of the business. Safety Differently flips traditional thinking on its head and encouraged organisations to grow safety from the bottom up, rather than impose it from the top down.

Sidney Dekker is Professor and Director of the Safety Science Innovation Lab at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and Professor at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University in the Netherlands.

Sidney has lived and worked in seven countries across four continents and won worldwide acclaim for his ground-breaking work in human factors and safety. He coined the term ‘Safety Differently’ in 2012, which has since turned into a global movement for change. It encourages organisations to declutter their bureaucracy and set people free to make things go well, and to offer compassion, restoration and learning when they don't.

Sidney is a bestselling author and documentary director. His work has over 12,200 citations and an h-index of 47. His presentation Safety Differently – what, why and how will demonstrate how safety is defined, the role of the people, and the focus of the business. Safety Differently flips traditional thinking on its head and encouraged organisations to grow safety from the bottom up, rather than impose it from the top down.

Sidney DekkerSidney Dekker

Professor Sydney Dekker

Griffith University

10:00am - 10:30am Morning Tea
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.

Dr Fiona Kerr is the Founder of The NeuroTech Institute (NTI), a multi-disciplinary body working at the intersection of neuroscience, emerging technology and ethical practice. NTI researches and consults internationally on a range of topics regarding the neuroscience of both human-human and human-technology interaction, neurogenesis and complex systems dynamics.

To investigate how humans shape each other, Fiona looks at the neurophysiology of face-to-face interaction, and how it enables neural synchronization and dynamic resonance, facilitates complex problem solving, long range thinking, system flourishment, healing and neurogenesis.

Fiona’s unique perspective on the power of human interaction and the transformative capacity of increasing technologization is shaped by qualifications in engineering, anthropology, psychology and cognitive neuroscience, and 35 years’ experience working in a variety of sectors, roles and levels both in Australia and overseas.

Fiona’s presentation Human-technology interaction: The impacts of technology on human cognition and communication will provide delegates with an understanding on the use of technology as a true enabler and how to choose when it is not the best solution.

Dr Fiona KerrDr Fiona Kerr

Dr Fiona Kerr

Founder, The NeuroTech Institute (NTI)

Concurrency indicatorTimeActivityCategory
  Concurrent Session D
 11:25am - 12:10pm 
 11:25am - 12:10pm
11:25am - 12:10pm D2: The ultimate cost of mental ill-health in the workplace

Allianz Logo

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.

Mark PittmanPatrice Murray

Mark Pittman

General Manager Government Services, Allianz

 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

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.

Louise has been a Nurse, Midwife and Educator for 27 years in both South Africa & Australia. Louise is an Improvement Advisor and has worked recently on projects relating to Quality and Safety in Healthcare.

Patrice is a Registered Nurse who has specialised in Mental Health Nursing for 10 years. Patrice's most recent experience are as a Nurse Educator and Project Manager.

Louisa BothaLouisa Botha

Louise Botha

ACT Health

Patrice MurrayPatrice Murray

Patrice Murray

ACT Health

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

Advanced Ordnance Technologies
Shane Dew, Defence Science and Technology Group

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.

Shane DewShane Dew

Shane Dew

Shane Dew, Leader Advanced Ordnance Technologies, Defence Science and Technology Group

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

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.
Michelle BarrattMichelle Barratt

Michelle Barratt

National Innovation and Customer Engagement Manager, Arriba Group

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

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.

Dr Ross IlesDr Ross Iles

Dr Ross Iles

Senior Research Fellow, Monash University

Shane Dew is Manager of Advanced Ordnance Technologies at Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), part of Australia’s Department of Defence. Shane’s wide ranging career includes service with the ADF and Defence APS being Range Safety Manager of Woomera (the largest test and evaluation range in the world), and roles across the Defence Science and Technology explosive domain.

Shane is an applied engineer in explosive ordnance, and leads one of Defence’s enabling capabilities that provides safety assurance; technical risk analysis; evaluation; governance of weapon systems and hazardous materiel; whilst developing engineering solutions that support Defence research. Shane’s specialist skills provide field operational test and evaluation in the assessment and analysis of explosive ordnance.

Shane has achieved various military acknowledgements and recognition including an Australia Day honours in 2008, and team win in the 2021 Comcare National Work Health and Safety Awards for development of the innovative Semi-automated Explosive Ordnance Inerting Capability that significantly reduced both the risk involved with, and time taken to, demilitarise items.

Shane sees his value in empowering staff to develop their understanding and acceptance of risk to achieve great results

Michelle is a registered psychologist with over ten years’ experience in the workplace rehabilitation and corporate health sector. She has experience in supporting recovery at work following psychological injury and illness and collaborating with stakeholders to achieve safe and durable outcomes for people experiencing mental ill-health. Michelle has a passion for evidence-based service delivery which is tailored towards positive and inclusive customer experience. In her current role as a National Innovation and Customer Engagement Manager for Arriba Group, Michelle is responsible for developing, implementing and measuring the impact of psychosocial programs designed to prevent or mitigate mental and physical health impacts in the community. Michelle also works closely with the Rehab Management Innovation Committee and wider Rehab Management leadership team in the development of digital tools and resources to create efficiencies and build the wellbeing and resilience of the internal multi-disciplinary health professional team.

Dr Ross Iles is a Senior Research Fellow in the Insurance Work and Health Group at Monash University. He has a Physiotherapy degree and PhD from La Trobe University, and a postgraduate diploma in Work Disability Prevention studies from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada. He is currently leading the Driving Health project, with the aim of improving the health of drivers in the transport industry. His approach to research focuses on developing a partnership to understand not only the problems to be solved, but also to identify solutions that fit best with the demands of all stakeholders.

12:10pm - 1:10pm12:10pm - 1:10pm Lunch  
  Concurrent Session E
 1:10pm - 1:55pm
11:25am - 12:10pmE1: COVID-19 lessons learned panel

Chaired by Katherine Jones PSM, Secretary, Attorney-General's Department

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.
Katherine JonesKatherine Jones

Katherine Jones PSM

Attorney General's Department

Brad ChapmanBrad Chapman

Brad Chapman

Deputy Commissioner ATO People, Australian Taxation Office

Laurie D’ApiceLaurie D’Apicen

Laurie D’Apice

President Human Resources, Linfox Logistics Australia

Justine GreigJustine Greig

Justine Greig

Deputy Secretary Defence People Group, Department of Defence

Katherine Jones PSM is Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department. Katherine commenced in this role in August 2021. Prior to her appointment as Secretary, Katherine was the Associate Secretary of the Department of Defence. She has a Bachelor of Arts from La Trobe University and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales. In 2017, Katherine received a Public Service Medal for her outstanding contribution in the field of national security.

Brad Chapman is currently Deputy Commissioner ATO People. He commenced in this role in April 2016 and has the responsibility to deliver an enterprise-wide human resource management service which supports ATO employees in providing a sustainable, open and accountable workplace that delivers on today’s priorities and shapes the ATO as a workplace of the future.

Brad has previously held positions in human resources, governance and finance in the public and private sector and has led large operational workforces covering a variety of functions.

Brad holds a Bachelor of Business from the QLD University of Technology and is a fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI).

Laurie has responsibility for Human Resources, Recruitment, Organisational and People Development, Industrial Relations, Workplace Safety, Workers Compensation and Compliance for the Logistics Group. He is also responsible for the Corporate Communications and the Sustainability functions.

Laurie has extensive experience in Human Resources, Operations and Employee Relations. His career spans more than 25 years and includes work at some of Australia’s leading blue chip enterprises including, Qantas, Hawker De Havilland, Mayne Nickless and Aussie Home Loans. Laurie has in – depth knowledge of employee and industrial relations and the development of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements. He has worked for Linfox for over ten years in various roles. Laurie holds a Graduate Diploma of Labour Relations and Law from Sydney University.

 1:10pm - 1:55pm
11:25am - 12:10pmE2: Joining the dots - practical system solutions for strongly siloed organisations

HSIDonesafe logo

Joel Fuller, HSI-Donesafe

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).

Joel FullerJoel Fuller

Joel Fuller

Solver, HSI-Donesafe

Joel our resident Solver works with some of Australia’s largest organisations designing health, safety, environment and quality platforms, from the ground up, specific to their requirements. This encompasses many considerations, from the ways in which employees will engage with the systems, through to usage of data analytics to highlight trends and enable decision-making to improve workplace health and safety.

Joel has over 10 years of cross-industry experience, underpinned by qualifications in personal injury management. In a newly-created role at Bupa, he established a program to ensure members maximised their use of health insurance benefits for post-surgery care. At David Jones, he ran the national Injury Management program, initiating the transformation that would put the worker first, and support them through their injury journey, regardless of whether the injury was claim-related or not. As a Senior Leader at WorkFocus Australia, he helped enterprise clients discover solutions and implement strategy to improve return-to-work results. Joel’s focus has always been on respecting the worker and placing them front and centre.

 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.

Megan DuffyMegan Duffy

Megan Duffy

Manager SHIELD Service Delivery, Australian Federal Police

Megan is currently Manager SHIELD Service Delivery at the Australian Federal Police. In this role Megan is responsible for implementation of the SHIELD program, working closely with the AFP’s Chief Medical Officer, Chief Psychologist, and the Manager SHIELD Strategy & Capability. Under SHIELD, AFP members, former members, and their families have access to primary health support services with a focus on early intervention and prevention.

A scientist by trade Megan holds a Bachelor of Science (Biological Science) and a Master of Science (Medicine) and has experience in medical research; water quality; and forensic science. Megan has over 22 years experience working in Commonwealth and State (Territory) Government. She has moved between health related roles and roles in law enforcement throughout her career working in both technical, advisory, and strategic roles at various points.

Within the AFP Megan has worked in forensics (biological criminalistics), domestic policy, national security policy, and human resources at the EL1 and EL2 levels. She was promoted to SES1 in 2015 initially managing the AFP Government & Communications Branch, before moving to the AFP’s Melbourne Office to enhance their corporate services and support cultural reform. Megan moved back to Canberra in mid-2019 to take on the then Manager Organisational Health role and is now enjoying the challenges associated with implementation of the SHIELD program.

Megan is a values-based leader with an optimistic outlook who is passionate about caring for people. She is the mother of a very active 2 year old daughter and a Blue Heeler with anxiety issues (the two things don’t always go well together) and enjoys being outside and spending time with family and friends.

 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.

Emily Baggett is a highly experienced lawyer whose principal areas of practice are statutory compensation, administrative and public law. Emily’s predominant practice area is Commonwealth Workers’, Veterans’ and Seafarers’ compensation and entitlements. Emily advises and acts for Commonwealth agencies, statutory corporations, self-insured licensees and insurance companies. Emily provides practical, strategic advice to clients on all aspects of a case, including as to broader issues. She considers early resolution and negotiates in her clients’ best interests to achieve excellent outcomes.

Mark Findlay is the CEO of Back2Work Solutions and is an Exercise Physiologist with 14 years’ experience working in the field of personal injury and sustainable return to work.  Mark has managed national teams of health professionals engaged in return-to-work support for participants supported by workers compensation, motor accident, public liability and Life/TPD schemes.  As a senior industry leader Mark has held prominent roles within injury management, workplace rehabilitation and direct claims management. Mark has extensive knowledge and practical experience facilitating sustained return to work for teams and participants engaged in state based and national workers compensation schemes.

Emily BaggettEmily Baggett

Emily Baggett

Partner, Moray & Agnew Lawyers

Mark Findlay Mark Findlay

Mark Findlay

CEO, Back2Work Solutions

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

Dr John McMahon, QBE Insurance Australia

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.

Dr John McMahon Dr John McMahon

Dr John McMahon

Chief Scientific Officer, QBE Insurance Australia

Developments in managing mental health and WHS laws
Kate Curtain, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

The focus on mental health at the workplace continues to grow.

During the review of the model WHS laws for Safe Work Australia in 2018, ‘persistent calls’ were acknowledged for regulation of, or a model code of practice to address, psychosocial risks and hazards in the workplace.  In 2019, the findings were released and a recommendation was made to amend the model WHS regulations to “deal with how to identify the psychosocial risks associated with psychological injury and the appropriate control measures to manage those risks”: Recommendation 2.  This recommendation has not yet been addressed.

Towards the end of 2019, the Productivity Commission released its Draft Inquiry Report into Mental Health.  The report recognised the prevalence of mental ill-health in the community and found that it was a significant contributor to workplace absenteeism and presenteeism.  The prevalence of workplace bullying, and the fact that victims are at risk of developing mental health problems, was also recognised.  Notably, the Productivity Commission also recommended amending the model WHS laws to ensure psychological health is given similar consideration as physical health.  The Final Inquiry Report is anticipated for release by the end of this year.

During this time, Safe Work Australia published its National Guidance Material – Work-related psychological health and safety and as of last month, SafeWork NSW published a draft Code of Practice – Managing the Risks to Psychological Health, which is the first of its kind.  Currently, the International Standard Organisation is developing ISO 45003 – Psychological health and safety at work: managing psychosocial risks — Guidelines which will also be the first of its kind.

Why should people be interested?

Mental health is relevant to all workplaces, particularly in light of the pandemic, and can often be a top risk for office-based environments.

The above developments will undoubtedly lead to changes for duty holders in the near future on how to manage mental health in the workplace.  This presentation will cover the developments as at the date of the presentation, including any decisions that have been made, and carefully consider where those developments (and decisions, if any) could lead.

Kate Curtain Kate Curtain

Kate Curtain

Senior Associate, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

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

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.

Dr Dominque EstivalDr Dominque Estival

Dr Dominque Estival

Researcher, Western Sydney University

Dr McMahon is a Clinical Psychologist, with over two decades of experience in the management of mental disorders and conditions. He has practised in both the private and public sectors, run numerous recovery and pain-management programs, and is responsible for the design and execution of Navigator Group’s mental health clinical programs.

Skilled in MAA and extensively involved in academia, Dr McMahon lectures students around the world and is actively developing multiple PhD studies with Navigator Group and The University of Sydney. Existing qualifications include a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), Dr of Psychology (Clinical) and certifications in CBT, Acceptance & Commitment, Schema and EDMR Therapy.

Kate practices in work health and safety law.  Her experience has been across a range of industries, particularly those with high risk, and predominantly in the harmonised jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth.  With nearly ten years’ experience, Kate is skilled at developing tailored solutions for clients and understanding the broader context in which clients work.  Kate is currently secretary for the Australian Institute of Health and Safety, New South Wales Branch.

Dr Dominique Estival is a researcher at the MARCS Institute, Western Sydney University (Australia). She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) and her career has always been at the frontier between academia and industry. As a linguist, her research spans the computational modelling of language change, machine translation, linguistic engineering, spoken dialogue systems and aviation communication. At MARCS, she has led, or been involved with, projects to collect and analyse language data.

  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

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

Justin Napier joined Comcare in June 2015. He has oversight of Comcare’s inspectorate function, regulatory policy, WHS system audits, WHS authorisations, regulatory intelligence and regulatory education and stakeholder engagement. Prior to joining Comcare, Justin was General Manager Corporate and Operations at the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and an Executive member of the Establishment Taskforce responsible for implementation of the Fair Work Act, including the establishment of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Bev Smith is the Senior Director, National Operations. She has qualifications in physiotherapy, law and WHS and extensive experience across the fields of work-based rehabilitation, WHS and regulation

Justin NapierJustin Napier

Justin Napier

General Manager Regulatory Operations Group, Comcare

Bev SmithBev Smith

Bev Smith

Senior Director National Operations, Comcare

 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

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.

Dr Caryn Van Vreden is the Project Coordinator with the Driving Health study within the Healthy Working Lives Research Group. She has a background in quantitative data analysis and oversaw the design, collection and analysis of data from 1,400 surveyed truck drivers. She has been involved in the production of several reports and peer reviewed manuscripts on the health and wellbeing of Australian truck drivers.

Dr Caryn Van Vreden Dr Caryn Van Vreden

Dr Caryn Van Vreden

Monash University

 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.

Dr Sadhbh Joyce is a Senior Psychologist at Mindarma and has experience across clinical, academic and industrial settings. She is an External Research Fellow with the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Medicine. Sadhbh has over 16 years’ experience working in Mental Health. She provides evidence-based therapy to those struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, bereavement and workplace injury.

Sadhbh has worked in inpatient and outpatient settings as well as occupational rehabilitation. Following her research with first-responders, Sadhbh co-founded Mindarma in 2016 with the aim of bringing evidence-based programs to the workplace. In 2021, Sadhbh was awarded the Australian Psychological Society DGPP Significant Contribution Award in recognition of her successful translational research.

Dr Sadhbh JoyceDr Sadhbh Joyce

Dr Sadhbh Joyce

Senior Psychologist, Mindarma

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

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

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.

Megan BuickMegan Buick

Megan Buick

General Manager, Strategic Partnerships & Engagement, Comcare

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.

Amelia FloresAmelia Flores

Amelia Flores

National Operations Manager/Consultant Psychologist, Resilia

COVID-19 and the changing landscape of rehabilitation services
Chris Skaroupka, IPAR

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.

Chris SkaroupkaChris Skaroupka

Chris Skaroupka

National Relationship Manager, IPAR

Megan is the General Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement at Comcare and has a combined 30 years’ experience in the health, aging and workers compensation sector. Prior to her current role Megan was the Director of Strategic Programs for nearly four years managing key strategic projects and programs of work including the Collaborative Partnership to Improve Work Participation. Prior to working at Comcare Megan has been involved in Victorian health services since commencing her working career: as a registered nurse in the acute and aged care sectors; in a research capacity; in an academic institution; and the primary care sector—where she was the Acting CEO of a Division of General Practice (now the Primary Health Networks). Megan is a passionate leader and manager, investing in and understanding the capabilities and strengths of colleagues to drive organisational outcomes and results.

Amelia has extensive experience working with clients in both therapeutic and assessment settings, within public and private sector organisations, having over 17 years’ experience as a psychologist.

Currently Amelia is the National Operations Manager and Senior Consultant Psychologist for Centre for Corporate Health, and oversees the management of The Resilience Box Program and Corporate Rehabilitation Services for Resilia. She continues to provide a range of psychological consulting services including counselling and coaching services to a range of clients and provides resilience training and mental health first aid across industries including banking and finance, law, consulting and media. For the past ten years, she has been involved in triaging trauma and managing complex mental health concerns across all industries, and providing therapeutic intervention and support.

Chris has qualifications in Psychology, Government, Risk Management and WHS. He has worked as a provider across multiple jurisdictions for over 10 years. Chris specialises in governance of Commonwealth contract delivery, innovation applying leading–edge business processes, building cross functional relationships, and successfully executing complex multi-channel customer interactions.

2:50pm - 3:20pm2:50pm - 3:20pm Afternoon tea  
3:20pm - 4:20pm
3:20pm - 4:20pm Keynote 7: Nurturing a culture within the workplace that is accepting, supportive and resilient
Kurt Fearnley AO

Kurt will leave delegates inspired and engaged with his closing keynote presentation.

Australian wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley OAM is one of Australia's most well-known and respected athletes.

Winner of some of the world’s most prestigious marathons, in London, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, Kurt won the Paralympic men's wheelchair marathon in Athens in 2004 and retained his title in Beijing in 2008. In Athens he also won gold over the 5000m on the track. He was recently able to finish a 20-year representative career with a dominant Gold Medal performance at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, whilst also receiving the honour of carrying the Australian Flag into the Closing Ceremony.

Off the racing circuit Kurt has been a winning crew member of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, taking line honours in 2011 on board the yacht Loyal. However, he is most well-known for his amazing feat of crawling the 96km Kokoda track.

In 2005, Kurt was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia or OAM after winning a gold medal at the Athens Paralympic Games. In 2018 Kurt received an Officer of the Order of Australia or AO, and in 2019 was awarded the NSW Australian of the Year.

Kurt will leave delegates inspired and engaged as he closes the conference with is presentation Nurturing a culture within the workplace that is accepting, supportive and resilient.

Kurt FearnleyKurt Fearnley

Kurt Fearnley AO

4:20pm - 4:30pmConference Close
Ellen Fanning, Conference MC

*Times and structure are subject to change without notice at Comcare's discretion.

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