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Government urged to focus on mental health in workplace

31-08-2010
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Government urged to focus on mental health in workplace

The University of Sydney’s high profile Happiness, Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference, which opens in Sydney today is expected to call on the Abbott Government to give priority to mental health in the workplace.

The annual Conference organised by the University of Sydney Business School’s Workplace Research Centre (WRC), is also expected to highlight some of the causes of mental illness amongst workers including vicarious trauma suffered by those who work with trauma victims.

A long time campaigner for action on workplace bullying, Josh Bornstein of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, will be a key conference participant, highlighting the importance of managing vicarious trauma in the workplace

“During the election campaign, the Coalition promised a review of our mental health system and we believe that there needs to be a focus on mental illness in the workplace which impacts on the lives of individuals and on productivity,” said WRC Director, Professor John Buchanan.

The Department of Defence will be participating in this year’s conference for the first time as will Hunter Valley aluminium manufacturer, Tomago Aluminium, which recently won a national workplace health award for an obesity related project.

“While mental health will be a feature of the Conference, the physical wellbeing of workers is also essential and the Conference will look at the role of the workplace when it comes to healthy lifestyles,” said Professor Buchanan.

“Importantly, this Conference will bring together academics who are expert in this field as well as people with practical industry knowledge and experience,” he added.

The Abbott Government has promised a review into Australia's mental health system.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also promised there will be no cuts to mental health funding.

The National Mental Health Commission will be charged with evaluating all existing mental health programs.

The goal of the review will be to ensure services are being properly targeted at patients, that services are not being duplicated and that programs are not unnecessarily burdened with red tape, Mr Abbott said.

Mr Abbott said 75 per cent of all mental illness manifested itself in people under 25 and one in three young people experienced moderate to high levels of psychological distress at some point.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24.

The Happiness, Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference opens at the Wesley Conference Centre in Sydney today and will be held from 9am-5pm.

www.happyworkplaces.com.au

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