Collaborative Researchers Forum

University of Newcastle Centre for Resources Health and Safety and Minerals Council of Australia

Collaborative Researchers Forum 2015

Wednesday November 25, 2015, Holiday Inn Sydney Airport


Marty Wilson

Marty Wilson has spent his entire professional life studying resilience, partly because he was a fulltime Stand Up Comic for 8 years in the UK (nobody knows how to deal with setbacks like an Aussie Comic performing to the Brits!), but also because he is a relentless entrepreneur who has leapt from one successful career to another – he's a Pharmacist turned Award-Winning Advertising Copywriter turned Stand Up Comic turned Bestselling Author and Speaker. He has spoken to over 350,000 people since he first appeared on stage in 1997. In his first 12 months Marty won Australian Comic of the Year, appeared on the Footy Show, and was invited to the UK to become a full time Stand Up. He returned home in 2009 and now helps people and businesses conquer their fear of change. Marty structures his programs on the results of over 1,000 interviews he has done with inspirational and successful people for his 11 and counting books in his bestselling What I Wish I Knew series. From footy coach Wayne Bennett to a Buddhist Nun who works with prisoners on death row in L.A., from Comic Anh Do to a mother of eleven children, from a 911 survivor to chef Maggie Beer. This makes his programs incredibly human and instantly relatable to a wide variety of audiences.


Session 1: Industry Session

Kirsten Livermore, Minerals Council of Australia

Scale, size and worth of the Industry

Kirsten Livermore is a Senior Adviser at the Minerals Council of Australia. Her responsibilities include membership of the steering committee for Mates in Mining, the industry's response to the findings of the University of Newcastle's research into the mental health of mining industry employees.  Kirsten served as a member of the Australian Parliament representing the coal mining communities of Queensland's Bowen Basin from 1998-2013.

Kirsten's Presentation

John Shephard, Aspen Medical

Current trends and challenges of planning and evaluation of industry health services

Dr John Shephard is a graduate of the University of Newcastle and has an ongoing clinical career spanning more than 25 years, predominantly in primary and population health. He has post graduate qualifications in General Practice, Tropical Medicine and Public Health. For three years, he was a Research Fellow with RACGP/UNSW conducting health services and integrated care research, including innovative e-health approaches to workplace mental health promotion. In his role as Group Medical Director at Aspen Medical he is responsible for assuring clinical quality and safety across all of the company's global projects.

Aspen Medical is an Australian-owned global provider of guaranteed, innovative and tailored healthcare solutions to a diverse range of clients in the Oil & Gas, Mining, Defence, Government and Humanitarian sectors. The company came to prominence recently through its work in West Africa fighting the Ebola epidemic, working on behalf of the Australian, US and UK Governments. In the Resource sector its clients include Chevron, Origin Energy, Shell, Roy Hill and Bechtel.

John's presentation highlighted:

  • challenges and opportunities
  • consumer-centred health care
  • mining population and employee value

Jaelea Skehan, Hunter Institute of Mental Health

Building capacity of sectors to integrate best practice

Jaelea Skehanis an internationally respected leader in the prevention of mental illness and the prevention of suicide. Born and raised in Newcastle, Jaelea has worked at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health since 2001, which she now leads as their Director. Jaelea is passionate about translating evidence into practice and building the capacity of individuals, families, organisations and communities to be involved in mental health and suicide prevention. She is an advocate for finding better connections between research and practice and for ensuring a national focus on the promotion of mental health and wellbeing, and the prevention of mental ill-health to complement treatment and recovery approaches. She is a registered psychologist and holds a conjoint appointment with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle and in 2014 she was announced as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence.

Jaelea's presentation highlighted:

  • research versus practice
  • characteristic's of the end-users environment
  • Mindframe capacity building model
  • building capacity of sectors to integrate best practice
  • partnership building across sectors

Nick Arvanitis, Beyondblue

Planning, developing and review of workplace resources

Nick Arvanitis is currently Head of Workplace Research & Resources in the Workplace & Workforce Program at beyondblue. He is responsible for the planning, development and review of beyondblue's workplace resources, including the Heads Up website and the beyondblue National Workplace Program. Nick worked as the project manager for the National Mental Health Commission to establish the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. Prior to his current role, Nick managed a team in the Victorian Department of Health focusing on the development of Victoria's specialist mental health workforce. His educational qualifications are in Science and Law.

Nick's presentation highlighted:

  • mentally healthy workplaces
  • giving individuals and businesses free tools and resources to take actions
  • industry tailored approach to mental health
  • explaining the concepts of mental health and mental illness

Naomi Armitage, Gryphon Psychology

Mental health review and employee assistance programs

Naomi Armitage has been working in the Mining Industry as a Psychologist and Human Resources Practitioner for over 15 years. She is the Director of Gryphon Psychology who specialise in delivering Employee Assistance Programs and Critical Incident Services to the Resources Sector in Australia, with a strong focus in the Bowen Basin. Gryphon Psychology is part of the larger Boylan Simpson & Simpson (BSS) Group which includes BSS Corporate Psychology Services (WA based), BSS New Zealand and BSS Africa who are leading experts in fitness for work programs. Over the last fifteen years, the BSS Group has had extensive experience in developing and implementing workplace programs to manage "fitness for work" issues especially in the areas of alcohol and drug use, fatigue and recently mental health. This includes many major mining, petrochemical and utility companies in Australia, Asia and in the last few years, Africa.

Naomi's presentation highlighted:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) vary among providers
  • EAPs provide access to face-to-face assistance
  • barriers to access services need to be low
  • levels of distress generally increasing - higher level complication and job insecurity high stressors

Session 2: Current Research

Brian Kelly, University of Newcastle, Centre for Resources Health and Safety

Mining and mental health

Professor Brian Kelly is Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the Discipline of Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle. He is the Aspen Medical Chair of the Centre for Resources Health and Safety within the University of Newcastle's Institute for Energy and Resources and is currently researching a workplace-based mental health intervention in the coal mining industry. He is also working with the Minerals Council of Australia, building knowledge about mental health needs and solutions for the industry. Professor Kelly's clinical experience includes over 20 years' experience in mental health services in the general health sector in large metropolitan centres, rural based centres and currently within a large tertiary referral general hospital. He has completed research in a range of fields including longitudinal community and clinical studies in mental health, clinical intervention and health services research in the general health sector. Professor Kelly has been a senior collaborator in competitively funded research, capacity building initiatives and is a member of the Australian Government Health Minister's Suicide Prevention Advisory Council.

Brian's presentation highlighted:

  • diverse areas add to complexity of delivering health services
  • importance of leadership support and whole-industry approach
  • communications strategy highly important
  • sustainability of resources/programs is important

Rafael Calvo, University of Sydney


Rafael Calvo is Professor at the University of Sydney, and ARC Future Fellow. He has taught at several Universities, high schools and professional training institutions. He worked at the Language Technology Institute in Carnegie Mellon University, Universidad Nacional de Rosario (Argentina) and on sabbaticals at the University of Cambridge and the University of Memphis. Rafael also has worked as an Internet consultant for projects in the US, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. He is the recipient of 5 teaching awards for his work on learning technologies, and the author of two books and many publications in the fields of learning technologies, affective computing and computational intelligence. Rafael is Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, the IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing and the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR-HF). Rafael is Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Affective Computing and co-author of "Positive Computing" (MIT Press) with Dorian Peters.

Rafael's presentation highlighted:

  • assigning technologists to help with workplace mental health
  • e-health programs
  • mobile phone applications - what engages people

Alan Hayes, University of Newcastle, Family Action Centre

Evaluating community interventions

Professor Alan Hayes, AM, took up the Inaugural Distinguished Chair of Family Studies, and Director of the Family Action Centre in July 2015, within the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle. Prior to that he held the Australian Government statutory office of Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. His research and policy interests are in the pathways children and their families take through life and the role of families in supporting and sustaining development across life. Much of his work has focused on disadvantage, with a longstanding interest in prevention and early intervention. His current research and evaluation priorities are focused on innovative approaches to community supports for families. Consistent with the Family Action Centre's focus, his work also highlights the prime value of mobilising the strengths of families to promote the development, health and wellbeing of their members. His work emphasises the cross-disciplinary benefits of strengths-based approaches as one of the foundation of the discipline of family studies. Professor Hayes was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queens Birthday 2012 Honours List, for the service to the social sciences through the Australian Institute of Family Studies, as a contributor to policy research, and as an academic and author.

Alan's presentation highlighted:

  • Evaluating community interventions - what have we learned:
    - tighter focus on initiative that build mentally health communities
    - better knowledge of how we facilitate and evaluate tools
    - better research design
    - focus on outcomes - cost effectiveness and efficiency

Carmel Bofinger, University of Queensland, Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre

Research from the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre

Associate Professor Carmel Bofinger has worked at the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre Sustainable Minerals Institute (MISHC) for 6 years. Her role involves education and training, consultancies, project work and research in health and safety in the mining and minerals processing industry. Previously Carmel was the Group Risk Manager for Downer EDI Mining, Specialist OHS Risk Consultant for BHP Billiton/Mitsui Alliance and Manager of the Safety and Training Centre at the Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station. In these capacities she has provided expert assistance in the areas of health and safety to the mining industry for over twenty years.  She has particular expertise in risk management, health and safety management systems, fitness for work and occupational health and hygiene. Carmel also has extensive experience in providing training and education in OHS in mining in many countries including Ghana, Mongolia, Zambia, and Madagascar.

Carmel's presentation highlighted:

  • systems and people focused research
  • transfer of knowledge
  • increasing focus on how site interacts with community
  • link development of non-technical skills people with decision-makers

Robyn Considine, University of Newcastle

Mental health research outcomes and ACARP findings

Robyn Considine is Program Coordinator for the Mental Health and Mining Program based at the University of Newcastle. Robyn's involvement in this program of work stems back to the development of the initial report and blueprint for the NSW Minerals Council. Focusing on the implementation of the ACARP project, Robyn has overseen its conduct in 8 coal mines in NSW and Queensland. With a career in health promotion, health service planning and performance she has had a strong focus on research and practice partnerships which are key elements of the mental health and mining work. Many of these partnerships have addressed alcohol use in workplace and in the community, with previous experience of alcohol research in the coal mining industry in NSW.

Robyn's presentation highlighted:

  • mental health is an emerging area in mining - need for a more strategic approach
  • providing research-based solutions to industry problems
  • balanced and continuing partnership - ongoing engagement at all levels
  • shared understanding of objectives and differences
  • new knowledge is an important lever for the industry (research versus previous anecdotal evidence)
  • need for sustainable approaches and building the capacity to do this
  • how do we sustain collaboration across researchers and industry to build a strategic approach

John Schumann, Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health

Mental health program - 'Resources Minds'

John Schumann is a South Australian singer-songwriter, best known for his leadership of the legendary folk-rock band Redgum, and his Vietnam veterans' anthem, "I Was Only". Prior to going professional with Redgum, John Schumann taught English, Drama and Outdoor Education at Marion High School in South Australia. Among his many accolades, John Schumann is the recipient of the Order of Australia Medal and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Flinders University. His lyrics are on reading lists in schools, colleges and universities throughout Australia. John's passion for mental health arose, originally, from his association with Vietnam veterans - and later, with the Australian Defence Force (ADF). In 2009 he was asked by the Mental Health Directorate of the ADF to write and present a DVD on PTSD called "Dents in the Soul". Shortly after this, Dr Jennifer Bowers, Managing Director of the Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, invited John to work with the Centre. Since then, on behalf of the Centre, John has deployed his unique ability to "get through" to men on the subject of their mental health, particularly those who work in macho environments, such as the mining and resources sector. The Centre's mental health program, "Resource Minds" is now regarded as the most entertaining and effective evidence-based mental health program for people in the mining, resources and remote construction sectors.

John's presentation highlighted:

Session 3: Contributing Factors

Allison Milner, Deakin University

Determinants of mental health and suicidality

Allison Milner is the Deputy Director of the Work, Health and Wellbeing Unit at the School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University. Her current areas of research interest include the influence of employment characteristics, quality of work, job stress, and unemployment as determinants of mental health and suicidality. Allison's work ranges across a number of externally-funded etiologic and intervention projects and has successfully obtained funding from ARC and NMHRC for this work. She works with key policy stakeholders to promote research on the link between work and suicide, and is the co-chair for an international panel of researchers aiming to promote workplace suicide prevention.

Allison's presentation highlighted:

  • importance of promoting the link between work and suicide
  • suicide data across different industry groups
  • technical and trade suicides increasing

Louise Thornton, University of NSW, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

Reducing key health risk behaviours through mobile interventions

Dr Louise Thornton is an early career researcher based at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Louise is a recipient of a UNSW Vice-Chancellor Post-Doctoral Fellowship. She commenced her fellowship in February 2015 and is working with A/Prof Frances Kay-Lambkin to develop and evaluate a mobile application to reduce key health risk behaviours associated with cardio-vascular disease (i.e. smoking, alcohol use, poor diet, physical inactivity) among people with mental health problems. She is also a part of a team working with NSW Health to develop an online portal that will facilitate access to effective, evidence based, online tools for co-occurring mental health and substance use problems. Louise was awarded her PhD from the University of Newcastle in 2012, which examined the attitudes and perceptions of people with and without mental disorders regarding tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. Her research interests include: co-occurring mental health and substance use issues, multiple health behaviour change, qualitative research methods and the role of mobile and web 2.0 technologies in health promotion and interventions.

Louise's presentation highlighted:

  • health risk behaviour's eg. alcohol use
  • data indicates that one quarter of Australian's drink at a harmful rate
  • majority of people very late to seek help after drinking habits begin
  • barriers to access support - health literacy, attitudes, culture
  • online interventions cal help avoid stigma

Myles Young, University of Newcastle, Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition

Evidence based solutions in the workplace for weight loss in men

Dr Myles Young was awarded his PhD from the University of Newcastle in May 2015. He also completed a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons 1A) at the University of Newcastle in 2009. His PhD research examined the effectiveness of gender-tailored programs to help men lose weight sustainably and to maintain their weight loss long-term. A secondary outcome of his research was to examine the effect of weight loss and improved health behaviours on men's psychological wellbeing. Currently Myles is working as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle. He is currently working with Professor Philip Morgan on several health promotion initiatives for men including the Workplace POWER Weight Loss Program for male shift workers, the SHED-IT Weight Loss Program for men, and the Healthy Dads Healthy Kids program for fathers and their primary school-aged children. He was recently awarded the Hunter Medical Research Institute's Greaves Family Early Career Research Grant to help him conduct further research into the promising mental health findings observed among men who participated in his PhD study.

Myles presentation highlighted:

  • Over the last 30 years, the average male BMI of Australasian men is increasing faster than for men in almost all other high-income countries, such that there are now almost 70% overweight or obese
  • obesity has been estimated to cost Australian businesses $3.6 billion in loss of productivity
  • most weight loss programs are designed for and delivered by women, don't appeal specifically to men and have limited evidence of efficacy
  • the Workplace POWER (Preventing Obesity Without Eating like a Rabbit) program was developed to engage men in the workplace and teach them how to achieve realistic and sustainable weight loss
  • Workplace POWER was tested using a randomised controlled trial of male shift workers at Tomago Aluminium which indicated significant weight loss, increased worker productivity, reduced absenteeism and reduced employee fatigue and workplace injuries

Trent Watson, Ethos Health

Health and fatigue related interventions in the workplace

Dr Trent Watson is CEO of Ethos Health, a multidisciplinary health and safety business based in Newcastle and Hunter region. He also holds the position as Chairperson of the Hunter Primary Care (formerly Medicare Local) and Director of the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network. Trent combines these roles with a number of other appointments such as Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care - Patient Experience Primary Health Care Expert Roundtable, Exercise is Medicine (EIM) Australian National Taskforce, Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences University of Newcastle and media spokesperson with the Dietitians Association of Australia. Trent completed his undergraduate studies and PhD in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Newcastle and has continued his research interests in workplace health, with a special interest in fatigue. He has 17 years experience working on the impact of health- and fatigue-related interventions in the workplace which include fatigue management system review; policy and procedure development; research and consultancy; speaking and conference presentations; and education in the workplace.

Trent's Presentation

Session 4: High Risk Male Workforces

John Brady, MATES in Construction

MATES in Construction suicide prevention program

John Brady has been with MATES in Construction Queensland for the past seven years and helped develop the national award winning "Mates in Construction" program in suicide prevention. John also coordinates the Life Skills Tool Box program which is a resilience building program for apprentices in construction. John strongly believes that suicide is a preventable problem particularly if we can get Mates helping Mates. John's role is to coordinate the MIC staff in their delivery of the MIC program ensuring that it is consistent, engaging, safe and high quality. John is married to Linda and they have five children. John comes from a diverse work background having spent 20 years as a school principal; owns a wine company, a leadership and management consultancy and has spent many years coaching young men in sport. John also spends 4 - 6 weeks a year in central Africa conducting leadership programs and establishing micro economic projects in poor communities.

John's presentation highlighted:

  • MATES in Construction suicide prevention program
  • community-based approach
  • intervention is successful, but no clear indicator as to why - possibly independence and levels of trust in the program
  • challenge is to develop a sustainable model and make it a political priority

David Robert Dunt, University of Melbourne

Review of mental health care in the Australian Defence Force

Professor David Dunt is a medical graduate of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Clinical School at The University of Melbourne. He subsequently undertook a PhD thesis. He is a medically-trained public health specialist and epidemiologist with major interests in health services research and health program evaluation. He has a particular interest in the evaluation of complex government health care programs in which he can combine his epidemiological and social sciences expertise. The Centre he established and directed in 1991 for 17 years, the then NHMRC National Centre for Health Program Evaluation is now known as the Centre for Health Policy. It has a large staff establishment of health service researchers, program evaluators and health economists and has had a substantial policy impact on government. He has had a major impact on government policy. David's major achievement in this area was the conduct of two Commonwealth Ministerial reviews - Review of Mental Health Care in the Australian Defence Forces and Transition through Discharge and the Independent Study into Suicide in the Ex-Service Community. Almost all recommendations in both Reviews were accepted and have led to major reorganisation of services in both the ADF and the DVA. He has had a number of other impacts on government policy and programs.

David's presentation highlighted:

  • common mental health issues among ADF members (PTSD, anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use, reckless driving, adjustment disorders post-deployment)
  • rehabilitation includes occupational and clinical intervention
  • needs assessment
  • adequate and appropriate resources and services necessary
  • impact on family needs to be considered

Trevor Hazell, University of Newcastle, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health

Mental health and wellbeing of those living in regional, rural and remote areas

Trevor Hazell has over twenty years' experience in the design, implementation and evaluation of population-focussed health promotion programs. The particular focus of his work has been on the promotion of mental health and wellbeing, a field that was in its infancy when he commenced work in 1997 on national projects aimed at the prevention of suicide in young people and somewhat later on programs to influence school and classroom environments to better support positive mental health and to identify children and young people whose mental health might be at risk. Trevor's particular expertise is in program design in which he has learned to bring to bear the knowledge that comes from previous research and from well-accepted theoretical perspectives and that which is derived from collaborative and consultative partnerships with the target group and settings within which the program is intended to operate. While much of his previous work has focussed on promoting mental health through family, child-care and school settings, Trevor has also worked with a range of workplaces to design and implement interventions designed to improve mental health and to improve the capacity of the workplace setting to support those who experience mental problems and mental illness. In recent times, Trevor has refocussed his work on the mental health and wellbeing of those who live in regional, rural and remote areas, in which mining has always been a key industry alongside agriculture.

Trevor's presentation highlighted:

  • importance of linking farmers to the care they need
  • resilience

Alan Broadfoot, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources

Summary of key issues

Dr Alan Broadfoot is well known for his innovations in industry and is currently the Director of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) at the University of Newcastle, a position he has held since 2010. Charged with an ambitious agenda linking industry and academia for transformational research in energy and resources efficiency, productivity and sustainability, Alan's strategic direction and enterprising leadership has promoted a number of new and exciting initiatives at NIER, aligned to emerging challenges and national priorities associated with the sector. Alan holds a Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Engineering and Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (Honours) from the University of Newcastle and has forged a solid career in (engineering and business management) since graduating. An Electrical Engineer in various roles from 1985, Alan joined leading electrical design and manufacturing company, Ampcontrol in 1991 and held a number of senior management positions, including Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer from 2005 – 2010. Under Alan's stewardship, the company grew from $32million to in excess of $270million with the expansion of the group to twenty-six companies worldwide.

Alan's presentation highlighted:

  • workplace as a location for programs and change
  • researchers to better assist industry needs
  • impact on communities as a whole
  • culture change

Contributions by other Attendees:

Michael Player
Research Study Co-ordinator, The University of New South Wales

What might interrupt men's suicide? Results from an online survey of men.
What Interrupts Suicide Attempts in Men: A Qualitative Study.
Positive strategies men regularly use to prevent and manage depression: a national survey of Australian men.
Men's use of positive strategies for preventing and managing depression: A qualitative investigation.