Topic: Mental health in the workplace: a proactive approach to supporting a thriving aged care workforce

Day: Wednesday 14 October 2020

Time: 1:50pm – 2:10pm AEDT


Burnout and stress are the new workplace injuries. According to a five-year review by SafeWork Australia, 91% of workers’ compensation claims involving a mental health condition were linked to work-related stress. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of workplace stress in aged care settings has been amplified. This presentation explores mental health hazards in the workplace and offers a proactive approach to preventing psychological injury, promoting a mentally healthy workplace culture, and supporting a thriving and effective aged care workforce.

Workplace stress is now recognised as a major workplace health and safety risk factor. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that the workplace does not cause psychological or physical injury or worsen an existing condition.

Aged care workers are also currently facing unprecedented circumstances and pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can take a toll on mental health.

  • Leaders in aged care can support their workforce and mitigate mental health hazards by:
  •  Following recommendations for prevention and intervention by SafeWork Australia, as outlined in the 2019 national guidance material “Work-related psychological health and safety: A systematic approach to meeting your duties.”
  • Following recommendations for seeking mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic, as outlined in the Australian Government’s BE COVIDSAFE resources.
  • Implementing a workplace mental health policy.
  • Promoting a healthy workplace culture.

In aged care settings, a workplace mental health policy is most effective when it supports regular, transparent communication between managers and staff. Other important factors include staff health checks, the provision of an independent Employee Assistance Program, reviewing the working arrangements, and reviewing the workplace culture.

This presentation aims to support aged care leaders to meet their employer obligations, and inspire positive actions and attitudes towards mental health in the workplace.

Learning outcomes include:

  •  An understanding of psychological safety under workplace health and safety laws.
  • Best practice and research-based tips to help staff manage their professional lives and stave off burnout.


Anna Pannuzzo is the Director of WorkPlacePLUS and a valued Affiliate Member of Leading Age Services Australia. Anna has 25+ years of senior HR management experience in the health, disability, aged care and not-for-profit sectors. She is degree qualified and a certified professional member of several highly-regarded industry associations, including the Australian Human Resources Institute and the Australasian Association of Workplace Investigators. She is also a regular guest on ABC Radio National’s “This Working Life” and “Best Practice”. Anna’s nursing background provides a unique insight into the HR challenges facing many employers.