Recognising the importance of mental health, Downer formed our Group Health function in 2018 to initially focus on changing the conversation around mental health, reducing stigma and empowering our people with strategies and activities that support their mental health and wellbeing, and assist them to support their workmates.
Working across the entire business over the past 12 months, the team has developed Downer’s mental health strategy and introduced a process to identify levels of psychological impairment and the response needed to support those who might be struggling. The team delivered a high-quality accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training program to 763 employees* this year, taking the total number of employees who have been trained to over 2,000. Once trained, these Mental Health First Aiders are a confidential peer support contact who can provide initial informal support to other employees, complementing formal support services when required. Downer has achieved Gold Accreditation from Mental Health First Aid Australia as a Mental Health First Aid skilled workplace.
The expertise of the Group Health team was an important part of our COVID-19 response, providing valuable insight and advice and responding quickly to the evolving situation. During the COVID-19 outbreak, this team recognised that continuing MHFA training was important, as the uncertainties associated with the pandemic threatened to impact the mental health of some people. The team was able to develop and pilot an online delivery model for the accredited MHFA training program, which was an Australian first. After conducting a thorough review of our pilot delivery model, Mental Health First Aid Australia has granted approval for Downer to continue delivering the training online in the future where face-to-face training is not possible or practical.
Consistent with our focus on mental health, the support systems we developed for our people during the COVID-19 situation also included supporting their mental health.
*While the program itself is accredited, the employees who attend the course are not accredited unless they register directly with Mental Health First Aid Australia. This data is limited to Downer’s internal MHFA tracking tool.