Health and

Sustaining mental health in the workplace

In 2018, Downer sought to change the conversation and reduce the stigma attached to mental health, and to empower our people with strategies to support their wellbeing and that of their workmates.

To do this, we formed a Group Health function within Group Zero Harm to promote the importance of good mental health and to provide strategies and activities to support good mental health. The team supports the whole of the Downer Group, working with our people in Australia and New Zealand.

There is no doubt there has been increased recognition of the importance of mental health in recent years, and this has become even clearer as our people have endured the consequences of extended COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

The team has continued to provide Downer’s Gold Standard Accredited* Mental Health First Aid training across the business. In FY21, 318 people were trained in Mental Health First Aid across the company. Mental Health First Aiders are available to assist their colleagues during challenges to their mental health and to identify persons who may need support. They are also able to direct people needing support to the appropriate services.

Last year, the Group Health team developed an online delivery model for the training program after recognising the importance of continuing mental health training despite COVID-19 restrictions preventing face-to-face delivery at times. Mental Health First Aid Australia thoroughly reviewed this online training module and granted approval for Downer to train in this manner when COVID-19 restrictions necessitate it.

The Group Health team provides training on Mental Health Foundations, and shares information on resilience and staying mentally well. Consistent with our focus on mental health, Downer is now a Major Partner of Beyond Blue and we look forward to seeing the benefits this partnership will provide for our people and for those who live in the communities we work in across Australia.

We also deliver our Mental Health First Aid training to joint venture partners and subcontractors, to not only extend the reach of this vital training but also strengthen alliances with our delivery partners.

The Downer FKG joint venture is delivering the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) Remediation Project, approximately 80 kilometres north of Rockhampton in Central Queensland. SWBTA is the Australian Defence Force’s primary training area for the conduct of large-scale, joint-force military training exercises. Considering the project’s duration and remote location, the mental health of our people, partners and subcontracted workforce was identified as an important focus area. We rolled out Downer’s accredited MHFA course and Foundations of Mental Health course to all JV employees. These initial training sessions were followed by a course delivered by Downer’s Group Health team focusing on ‘Intergenerational communication’, which aimed to support a stronger connection across the team. A second Foundations of Mental Health course was also rolled out to support our long-term subcontractors onsite.

* 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.