No one-size-fits all approach: learn some of the ways our member DCJ supports their employees mental health

Thu 19 August 2021

Cartoon desk and chairs with cut outs of 6 people (DCJ employees) photoshopped onto the chairs.


At AND, our powerful member network means we have members implementing a range of insights, ideas, programs and resources. This provides us the opportunity to share these ideas, to encourage our members to make changes within their own workplace, or be inspired by exposure to new ideas.

As part of our series – how organisations are supporting employees mental health – AND is sharing the way organisations are rising to the challenge. In this newsletter, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) explore their robust mental health support system and why it’s so crucial.

Staff at DCJ work in challenging environments, with some of the most vulnerable communities – making mental health very important.

Mental health is a significant issue in the community and for our staff at DCJ,” says Norma Kaddour, Manager Workers Compensation & Injury Management. “The impact of COVID-19, bushfires, drought and flooding in NSW in recent years have also contributed to mental health issues in the community.”

DCJ offers a variety of ways to support mental health, including mental health first aid training.

Mental health first aid training

Mental health first aid training was first brought in following an organisation wide survey that demonstrated there was a gap in awareness of mental health signs and symptoms. DCJ recognised there was an opportunity to encourage early detection and action.

Because of the breadth of the organisation, mental health first aid training is offered in various ways and by different providers, each tailored to the different needs of staff and teams. 

Mental health first aid training enables people to feel comfortable talking about mental health with others, and increases confidence in providing appropriate referral to support services,” says Norma. 

Staff who are trained in mental health first aid are trained to suggest support services to their colleagues. 

Support like this is critical for staff at DCJ to minimise psychological injury, absenteeism and staff turnover.

Localised mental health support  

But mental health first aid training isn’t the only kind of support available at DCJ. Because of the scope of the work within the department, divisions in DCJ also offer their own localised mental health support, including:

  • Welfare officers, drug and alcohol counselling for Corrective Services Staff
  • Development of programs and services by business areas
  • Peer Support Programs
  • The Employee Assistance Program
  • Targeted campaigns for mental health support like the Push Up Challenge, R U OK Day and Mental Health Month.

To further the support available to staff across the department, the DCJ-wide Wellbeing Strategy is currently in a consultation phase.

This will provide a framework for the introduction of new mental health programs for staff.”

For organisations still in the midst of their journey for building employee mental health support systems, Norma offers a few tips.

  • Examine the data and see how mental health is impacting your workplace
  • Look at what’s available so you can build on foundational pieces
  • Use internal surveys to fill in any gaps in data
  • Look for opportunities to develop mew programs and services
  • Collect evidence based data to get leaders on board.

“The nature of the work [at DCJ] can be often stressful and traumatic,” says Norma. “So mental health programs and services are critically important.”

Connect in with the network

If you would like to connect in with our membership network to get more ideas on how you can support employees mental health in your organisation, become a member today.

Stay tuned for more stories on how our members are supporting their employees mental health. Read more about wellbeing in the workplace.

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