Activities in the Workplace

What councils do

Councils undertake a variety of activities in pursuit of developing a healthy workplace.
Some councils develop a specific program for addressing health or mental health and wellbeing. Others achieve the same outcomes via a range of formal and informal activities across different plans and programs. 
Considering the causes of mental ill-health are diverse, then casting the action net widely is likely to deliver a valuable range of benefits. 
Some information is provided below about programs and activities adopted by councils in their pursuit of developing a healthy workplace. It does not include the councils’ Work Health and Safety (WHS) strategies and actions.

Byron Shire Council

Byron Shire Council has an active program and use a variety of activities to address health and wellbeing. This includes:
  • A series of partially customised workshops developed and delivered by Beyond Blue to managers and staff on the topic of Mental Health Awareness
  • A three-hour workshop delivered to all staff on Coping with Change
  • Managers/supervisors doing a one-day workshop on Change Management
  • Delivery of Verbal Judo workshops to a number of staff
  • On-line health and WHS alerts daily with the WHS alerts often focusing on mental health and resilience in the workplace
  • Promotion of Council’s Employee Assistance Program via posters and printed material in many Council areas and in Council’s staff newsletter
  • Induction program for new starters which includes WHS matters and information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Promotion of R U Ok Day and the work of Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute
  • Facilitation of staff organising morning teas or social events to raise funds for worthy causes
  • Provision of a variety of material and information brochures to staff on health and wellbeing matters.
Looking to the future, BSC will be emphasising its health and wellbeing program, including some specific activities around mental health. This will include looking at further extension of the EAP service.

Hilltops Council 

While including some of the activities undertaken by other councils, Hilltops Council has incorporated some other innovations. Its list of activities includes:
  • Conducting resilience workshops sponsored by StateCover
  • The use of Oz Help (a foundation which provides support services targeted at young men working in the construction industries) to do monthly health and mental health chats
  • A workshop on suicide prevention and recognition of warning signs 
  • Promotion of the EAP program 
  • Annual wellbeing days which include medical assessments by a team from ANU Medical school, presentations from the local hospital on drug and alcohol awareness and surveys on mental health awareness 
  • Conducting Healthy Breakfast events with local medical professionals who present information on topics such as mental health, manual handling, eye safety
  • Musculoskeletal Health Seminar and Risk Assessment
  • EAP group sessions on resilience and change in the workplace.
  • Debriefing sessions following all serious incidents attended by workers
  • A staff newsletter.

Kiama Municipal Council 

Kiama Municipal Council, while investing in leadership and management development and other staff training, also has several activities specifically aimed at mental health. These include:
  • Mental health first aid training 
  • Dementia awareness sessions at quarterly staff meetings
  • Critical incident debriefing as a follow-up to critical incidents 
  • R u ok day awareness.
These specific activities are complemented by:
  • An Employee Assistance Program 
  • Return to work plans for employees who have a mental illness
  • Flexible work arrangements to support employees who have a mental illness.

Narromine Shire Council 

Narromine Shire Council has combined some formal and informal activities which together help create a positive organisation culture of mental health and wellbeing in which people look out for each other.   Specifically, it has:
  • An annual beyond blue lunch for the whole organisation 
  • Speakers who share their story about mental health
  • Raffles using donated prizes with the proceeds going to beyond blue
  • The occasional morning tea with mental health as the topic
  • Acknowledgment of R U Ok Day and world mental health day
  • Acknowledgement of higher suicide rates amongst young men in rural areas by letting staff know they will be supported and can ask if they need any assistance with anything going on in their lives
  • An Employee Assistance Program
  • A proactive approach to dealing with work related stress including encouraging staff to use their leave
  • A positive workplace culture that helps with the prevention of psychological injuries and quick return to work if injuries have occurred.

Randwick City Council 

Randwick City Council regards a wide range of developmental activities as contributing to the health and wellbeing of staff. Looked at in this holistic way, the Council believes the following programs, training and activities contribute to an overall state of health and wellbeing in its workforce:
  • Flexible working hours
  • Fortnightly staff newsletter - including articles and events on mental and physical wellbeing topics
  • Bicycle pool - including 2 electric bicycles and accompanying safety equipment staff can use for travelling within the LGA for meetings between venues, and for recreational use during lunch breaks
  • Regular staff barbeques
  • Social club activities
  • Annual all staff training event – including workshops, stalls and activities promoting and encouraging safety, good mental and physical health
  • A Leadership Competency Framework for Executive, Manager and Coordinator levels focusing on Relationship Success, Leadership Impact, Management Skills, and Personal Effectiveness with core competencies around Safety Leadership & Advocacy, Emotional Intelligence, Leveraging Community and Staff Diversity, Facilitating Change and Fostering an Inclusive Environment
  • Performance management training and coaching
  • Immunisation programs (for at-risk employees)
  • Flu vaccination programs
  • Skin cancer checks
  • Pre-employment medical examinations
  • Monthly 'Lifestyle Lunches' - social lunches for all staff on topics nominated by staff (some of the topics from the 2016 program include Alcohol & Other Drugs Awareness, Health Food Fast - Nutritious Cooking Demonstration, Work Space Wellness & Ergonomics, Immune Boosters - Preparing to Fight the Winter Blues Nutritious Cooking Demonstration, Energy Boost - How To Get Healthy Sleeping Patterns & The Importance Of Getting A Good Night's Sleep)
  • Weekly 'Be Fit' program including: yoga, group boxing and cardio circuit fitness classes facilitated by accredited local fitness providers at various locations within the LGA 
  • Employee assistance program providing confidential counselling support for all employees and their family members dealing with personal or work-related issues
  • Customised R U Ok? organisation wide awareness program and social events including morning and afternoon teas
  • Training in Emotional Resilience (pilot course known as Bounce). The target audience is staff at risk of violence or verbal abuse from the public including beach lifeguards, parking patrol officers, health and building and regulatory services officers and events personnel.
  • Training in –
    • emotional Intelligence
    • mental health first aid
    • embracing change
    • driving change.

Wollondilly Shire Council 

Wollondilly Shire Council combines some physical wellbeing activities with some more focused workshops and training. This includes lunch break activities (some free, some at cost) such as:
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Walking
  • Personal training
  • Five-a-side soccer competition
  • Netball competition.
While not directly targeted at mental health, the activities are targeted at trying to encourage people to have a proper lunch break and a mental break away from thinking about work. These activities are complemented by:
  • Workshops - Introduction to Mental Health with managers and executives run by the Centre for Corporate Health 
  • Training - High Performance Leadership for team leaders and above where meditation and mindfulness is a key theme
  • Promotion of R U Ok day throughout the organisation
  • An EAP service that is actively promoted throughout the organisation.


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