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OzHelp supports cattle station workers’ health and wellbeing

Workers across 15 of Australia’s most remote cattle stations are receiving targeted mental health and wellbeing support and services through a unique public-private partnership model.

This partnership, between national mental health organisation, the OzHelp Foundation, the Northern Territory Government and Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC), showcases the use of government seed funding for investment by employers in the health and wellbeing of their hard-to-reach and at-risk workforces.

The OzHelp Foundation works to reduce the risk of mental illness and suicide by supporting individuals in workplaces to be more resilient and proactive about their own health and wellbeing.

The Consolidated Pastoral Company operates across 15 properties covering more than 4.7 million hectares in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and carrying 400,000 head of cattle.

Based on OzHelp’s proactive and holistic approach, and with a framework built upon recommendations from the World Health Organization and Comcare, the CPC mental health and wellbeing program includes face-to-face wellbeing support, mental health awareness and suicide prevention training, along with a roll-out of OzHelp’s online Workplace Tune Up (WTU). It is purposefully flexible and appropriate for remote workplaces.

A pilot program was conducted in two  phases six months apart. This, enabled de-identified data to be collected at two points over time to determine changes that may be attributable to OzHelp’s interventions. This data, collected through Workplace Tune Up, also provided valuable information about service and resource gaps specific to the target population, therefore informing targeted interventions for the planned roll-out of the program across the entire CPC workforce.

Focused on reaching the full CPC workforce, the program aims to reduce the occurrence of specific risk factors including poor sleep and fatigue, unsafe alcohol consumption, domestic safety, coping with stress, bullying and discrimination and low levels of wellbeing.

Participants will also grow individual capability to seek help when it’s needed, and most importantly they’ll know where to find it. This also extends to supporting others, such as mates or family members, who may be exhibiting signs of physical or mental distress.

The CPC program is an example of how employers can be provided with information that they wouldn’t otherwise have, allowing decisions to be informed by an evidence base rather than what seems to be a good idea. Furthermore, the data collection is valuable for employees as they engage with the digital platform, it’s recommendations and associated person-to-person supports.

OzHelp’s Northern Territory Regional Manager Cristene French reported that participants were genuinely interested in their results from the WTU, and were keen to know more about support services should they, or someone they know, need help in the future.

The program connects strongly with the core of OzHelp’s purpose, which is to support Australia’s most hard to reach workers in industries with the highest risks of mental illness and suicide.

The full roll-out of the OzHelp CPC program will begin in May 2019.

For more information about this program or OzHelp’s suite of services, visit OzHelp.org.au.

Need to talk to someone? If you need immediate assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information contact Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636,  or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 mensline.org.au, or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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