Mental health charter for Victorian public servants

By David Donaldson

Friday October 28, 2016

The mental health of Victorian public servants is on the agenda as the state government launches a wellbeing plan for its employees.

The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter commits every Victorian government department to creating a mentally sound and safe workplace.

It aims to promote positive mental health through proactive programs and leadership, reduce work-related risk factors and address mental health issues by providing pathways to appropriate support, recovery and return to work provisions.

The principles outlined in the charter are based on the Canadian national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace — regarded as international best-practice.

The charter was developed over the past 10 months by a leadership group made up of the secretaries of every department, as well as senior representatives from Victoria Police, the Victorian Trades Hall Council, relevant public sector unions and WorkSafe — chaired by Finance Minister Robin Scott.

The charter leadership group has endorsed a program of strategies and processes that will get under way as soon as possible, including:

  • Improved data collection and benchmark reporting
  • Education and training for all staff to identify risks to mental health and to promote mental wellbeing
  • A work plan outlining opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration to prevent occupational violence.

Occupational health and safety in the public sector is a priority for the government, said Finance Minister Robin Scott.

“We’re getting on with making sure that every Victorian public sector employer leads by example in creating mentally healthy workplaces for all,” he stated.

Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley said the government is investing in mental health services and support “to create a healthier, fairer and more inclusive society.”

“The charter is another important part of our 10 Year Mental Health Plan. It recognises that the workplace is a key platform for the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental illness,” Foley added.

A review released earlier this year found Victoria Police highlighted a need for change in leadership styles and organisational culture to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness and help seeking.

The Mandarin has asked the government which body will have responsibility for independent monitoring of the plan.

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