NSW Government sector resource kit
With over 400,000 employees, the NSW Government is the largest employer in Australia. It also influences private sector businesses through work contracts and regulations. This provides both the opportunity and responsibility to promote best practice mental health at work strategies.
- You don’t need to be a mental health expert to support your team.
- As well as the common mental health factors that affect all workplaces, the NSW Government faces some additional, unique challenges. This can lead to a high prevalence of mental ill-health.
- Leaders can create a mentally healthy workplace by supporting flexible working, offering in mental health training, promoting support services, and fostering a positive and inclusive culture.
Tips for leaders
You don’t need to be a mental health expert to support your team and make a difference.
Here are some tips on what you can do to create a mentally healthy workplace as a NSW Government manager or leader.
Assess your workplace factors
Common workplace factors can have an impact on mental health.
Learn more about the factors and the steps you can take to create a mentally healthy workplace.
Support flexible working
By being flexible in the way work is delivered, you will support the needs of your team and create benefits including increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved morale.
Talk to your team to find out what works best for them. The NSW Public Service Commission offers flexible working resources for managers.
Get tips on how to support your team working from home or remotely.
Zero tolerance of bullying
The NSW Government’s Positive and Productive Workplace Guidelines support agencies, their leaders and employees in preventing, identifying and responding to workplace bullying.
SafeWork NSW has more information on workplace bullying support services and resources.
Mental health training
Educating yourself and your staff about mental health reduces stigma and makes people feel comfortable to speak openly about mental health and seek support.
Training helps managers understand the signs of mental ill-health and learn to start a conversation and offer the right support. NSW Government staff can access mental health training through Comcare. icare also offers mental health first aid training (PDF 70.77KB).
The icare Risk Education eXpress program offers NSW Government agencies resources and training to build skills to support others.
The RUOK? website has more advice on how to start a conversation.
Positive and inclusive culture
Everyone in the NSW Government has a role to play in creating a positive workplace culture where people feel valued, supported and safe to be themselves at work.
Leaders play a vital role in modelling inclusive behaviour and calling out poor behavior.
Small actions can make a big difference.
Learn how you can become an inclusive leader.
Tell your team that mental health support is available to them and how to access it if needed.
This could be your agency’s Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) service or another mental health support service.
Mental health in NSW Government
The NSW Government is committed to making positive work health and safety changes and creating mentally healthy workplaces that support the health and wellbeing of our staff through the NSW Government sector plan.
As well as the common mental health factors that affect all workplaces, the NSW Government faces some additional, unique challenges.
These factors can lead to a high prevalence of mental ill-health. Research shows that the NSW Government has a lower capability to create mentally healthy workplaces than other sectors.
Workforce size – largest in the southern hemisphere
As the largest employer in Australia and the southern hemisphere, the NSW Government has over 400,000 employees under its care, working in metro and regional areas and covering a variety of occupations and industries.
Managing a large workforce, dispersed over many locations, creates unique difficulties not seen by smaller employers.
Regular election cycles can lead to changes such as restructures, new leaders and role changes, and cause uncertainty for employees.
We sometimes have complex governance structures, administration and approval processes that can make it difficult to implement change.
Role descriptions are standardised which, while giving staff more mobility, can sometimes impact role clarity or not reflect what we do day-to-day.
Scope of work can change quickly
The NSW Government serves and supports over 8 million NSW citizens.
Priorities and workload of government sector staff can change quickly based on the needs of our citizens and in response to economic, legislative and environmental factors such as COVID-19, bushfires and natural disasters.
High-risk roles – frontline workers
Frontline workers such as police, emergency responders, teachers, nurses, train drivers and customer service staff are at greater risk of poor mental health due to high workplace stress and exposure to trauma, violence and harassment.
Workplace bullying – a persistent problem
A 2020 survey found that 13.9% of NSW Government staff had experienced bullying in the workplace, and 21.7% had witnessed people being bullied at work. This has been a consistent issue needing long-term solutions.
Em Hogan, Secretary of the Department of Customer Service, was appointed the NSW Government sector’s ambassador for mentally healthy workplaces in October 2020. She will work to raise awareness of mental health, influence and drive change in the sector.
Watch Em talk about the action being taken to improve mental health and wellbeing:
Our vision is for NSW employers, leaders and workers to take effective action to create mentally healthy workplaces. We have created NSW's first workplace mental health strategy.
Read the strategy.
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