News

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

NSW must catch up to other states with public service mental health plan


MEDIA RELEASE

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2018

The Public Service Association has today called on the NSW Government to introduce a mental health plan for all public sector workers to address soaring rates of mental illness.

Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland all have mental health plans for their public services.

“More people develop mental illness working for the New South Wales Government than at any other employer in the country, yet there’s no mental health plan,” said PSA General Secretary Stewart Little.

“We are often talking about people working in some of the toughest sectors – child protection, emergency services, prisons.

“Every day these workers put their bodies and minds on the line, but there is no formal recognition of the trauma they’re exposed to. There is no plan to help them manage their mental health – it’s time to deliver a comprehensive plan to help them.

“New South Wales is spending $92 million a year on mental illness compensation, but the true cost is much higher and most of it is being carried by workers experiencing anxiety, depression, and burnout.”

According to the latest WorkSafe NSW numbers, the cost of workplace mental health was $92 million in 2015/16, with an average payout of $48,906. Total time lost was 37,889 weeks or an average time off at 21 weeks. The number of incidences rose 6 per cent from the previous year.

“Unions see the effects of work-related mental ill health every day. We are calling on Gladys Berejiklian, Dom Perrottet, and Tanya Davies to meet with us and develop a plan to tackle the issue.”

The PSA will today commence its inaugural Mental Health Conference, with Carmel Tebbutt, CEO of the NSW Mental Health Co-ordinating Council, providing the keynote.

The PSA/CPSU NSW Mental Health Conference begins at 10am October 9, 2018 at Public Service Association House, 160 Clarence Street, Sydney.

Media inquiries: Suze Metherell 0412 867 084

BACKGROUND:

Costs of poor mental health to Australian workplaces each year:

• $480 million a year in workers’ compensation, of this NSW spends roughly $92 million

• 14.8 weeks off work, compared to the average 5.3 weeks for all claims – NSW figures are significantly higher at an average of 21 weeks off for mental health

• typical compensation payment per claim was $23,600 compared to $8,700 for all claims. NSW average was significantly higher at an average payout of $48,906

(Figures from SafeWork Australia and SafeWork NSW)