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Workplace Mental Health Now Squarely On The Agenda!

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

Echoing the expertise and commitment CommuniCorp Group has shown over the past ten years to build psychologically safe and healthy workplaces, beyondblue has launched their Heads Up campaign, in conjunction with the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Alliance, to encourage Australia’s business leaders to take action on mental health.

“Funded by the Department of Health, it has been launched as a growing body of evidence points to the urgent need for Australian businesses to start treating the mental health of their employees as seriously as they treat physical health and safety” beyondblue said in their media release on 20th May 2014

CommuniCorp Groups groundbreaking work over the past ten years has encouraged a move beyond simple awareness raising of the issues surrounding workplace mental health, toward a more proactive approach of early intervention and prevention of mental health issues and developing individual, team and organisational psychological health.

In a recent interview with Human Capital Online CommuniCorp Group’s Managing Director & Principal Psychologist David Burroughs commented” Most People can recognise when others are experiencing some degree of psychological distress, people can see when others are emotionally suffering, but are often reluctant to intervene and have a conversation. By giving general staff the confidence and capability to recognise distress in an individual, initiate a conversation and know where to refer to internally for additional support – that’s a big thing all on its own. It’s one of what we call a psychological safety foundation skill, something that we think all organisations should have."

With the rising rate and cost of workplace psychological injury, the importance has never been greater to not only identify and address psychosocial hazards in the workplace, but more importantly build individual and organisational capability to develop early intervention and prevention systems, strategies and people capabilities. With Mental Health related issues at work emerging as a critical safety and financial risk for Australian business, costing over $14.8 billion a year, Australian businesses need to ensure they have strategies in place to develop psychologically safe and health workplaces.

 "The time for raising awareness is over, it is now time for organisations to proactively and sustainably address workplace psychological health and safety." Burroughs says.

To learn more about CommuniCorp Group, and our programs, contact us on:

Email | Phone 1300 855 140 | Web

†To view the full interview on Human Capital Online, follow the link here.

†To learn more about Heads Up, visit


Posted by Chris Stevens on Monday, July 07, 2014.

Professional Resilience Program: Psychological Health & High Performance

The workplace and life in a broader sense is becoming increasingly complex and challenging. A recent Lifeline Stress Poll reported startling figures - 93% of Australians are stressed while 48% reported extreme stress. The Poll went further to identify work paired with poor emotional resilience as a leading stressor. In addition, stress-related claims have doubled in recent years – costing the Australian economy over $10.11 billion annually.

With stress and psychological injury in the workplace firmly established as a critical issue facing Australian business, there is now a solid business case indicating that the effectiveness of individual responses to constant challenges and flux is a predictor of individual and organisational performance and success.

The key challenge, however, is not so much stress reduction, but rather, how to develop key resilience skills to respond to these challenges with a health-enhancing and sustainable high performance.  

Professional Resilience is a strategic self-management capability necessitated by the demands of modern life and work. In the workplace it is a strong predictor of performance, with resilient individuals shown to have heightened skills in strategic thinking, problem solving capability, emotional intelligence, improved work engagement, higher morale and a healthy competitiveness in the face of obstacles.

It is realistic to expect we will experience times of mental distress, in the same way we experience periods of physical ill health. However, resilient individuals respond well to stress and maintain a highly productive and healthy state during these periods. Professional Resilience is not a skill that is developed by accident, but requires dedicated effort and knowledge to build capability and - much like a muscle, the capability is strengthened through use. Resilience is the product of a skilled response to stress.

All workplaces sit somewhere on the Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces Continuum. (Refer Graphic 1). The Professional Resilience program has been developed specifically for those teams and organisations who have developed the foundational capabilities to protect the psychological safety of their people (Refer Graphic 2 for a summary of CommuniCorp's Necessary and Sufficient Knowledge and Capabilities guide) and now want to take their people and their organisations toward the flourishing end of the continuum.

The case for building Professional Resilience

Research has shown clearly that there is a link between organisational psychological health and organisational performance. 

Those organisations which have a focus on improving the emotional well-being of their employees typically return a stronger financial performance; 2.2 times the average.  This improvement is demonstrated in increased performance, productivity, organisational cohesiveness and organisational and individual responsiveness to challenge and change. Those organisations that invest in the mental health and welling of their employees consistently show increases in performance scores and productivity.

Building on our nationally respected  Workplace Mental Health Essentials and Practical Resilience programs, we have developed a new program dealing with the specific opportunities available to organisations for enhancing psychological health.

What do participants get as part of the program?

Professional resilience is structured as a program because we recognise that building resilience is not something that simply results from attendance at a training session; it is something that you build over time with practice and discipline. Before the full day training we provide resilience resources – including a knowledge, skills and confidence assessment (which will enable the facilitator to modify the delivery of the workshop to meet the specific needs of attendees) and which ‘primes’ the attendee to start considering personally-relevant aspects of resilience to bring to the workshop.

The workshop itself provides participants with a contextual understanding of the considerations surrounding workplace mental health and resilience before providing practical exercises in developing the resilience resources needed to sustain high performance. The program also enables people to proactively identify compromised resilience and/or mental health in self or others and, where required, instigate “helping conversations”.

Participants finish the workshop with an action plan to embed and reinforce what they have learned and ensure post-workshop ‘traction’.

At the conclusion of the workshop participants also complete the same knowledge and skills audit to give an objective measure of learning. We also provide follow-up resources – including the Personal Resiliency Builder (PRB) a confidential online self-assessment on the resilience factors taught in the program. This provides further practical insights into their own resilience and action guidelines for developing professional resilience.

Professional Resilience is a workshop suitable for all levels of experience and for anyone wanting to respond to the demands of modern work with sustainable high performance

For further details on Professional Resilience, contact CommuniCorp Group on or 1300 855 140

Graphic 1: CommuniCorp Group Psychological Safe and Healthy Workplaces Continuum

© CommuniCorp Group 2014 - Psychologically Safe and Healthy Workplaces Continuum

Graphic 2: Necessary & Sufficient Knowledge/Capabilities for a Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplace

© CommuniCorp Group 2014 - Necessary & Sufficient Knowledge/Capabilities for a Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplace

Happy Birthday CommuniCorp - 10 years of helping develop psychologically safe & healthy workplaces

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Wednesday, July 02, 2014.

A message from David Burroughs, Managing Director & Principal Psychologist, CommuniCorp Group - celebrating 10 years of achievement in leading Australia to build psychologically safe & healthy workplaces.

With unprecedented awareness and media around mentally healthy workplaces and workplace mental health, it is very rewarding to be involved in a company that, for over a decade, has been turning awareness into action and helping organisations develop and implement initiatives that increase individual, team and organisational psychological health. 

To have a team of over 70 senior psychologists across Australia, workplace advisors that include some of the world’s foremost thought leaders in workplace psychological health and safety, and so many national clients with a genuine focus on workplace psychological health and early intervention and prevention of workplace mental health issues is a great achievement. It is exciting (although a little frustrating at times) to see the workplace mental health message finally receiving the attention it deserves and so many of CommuniCorp’s ideas, messages, models, frameworks and approaches being picked up, adapted, replicated and utilised by different organisations and groups across Australia. 

As the attention around workplace mental health continues to increase, I take pride in being part of a business that helped build the momentum for this area, that maintains its independence in an increasingly crowded and complex marketplace, and continues to innovate and deliver exceptional outcomes exclusively through its dedicated team of senior psychologists. 

I am looking forward to the next 10 years with CommuniCorp, turning awareness into action, tackling the tough issues, and focusing on practical, sustainable business-specific initiatives that positively influence so many individuals and organisations.

These are exciting times: happy birthday to the CommuniCorp team! 

David Burroughs

Managing Director & Principal Psychologist


Work Oriented Treatment

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Best practice, work-focussed treatment for workplace psychological injury

CommuniCorp Group, in collaboration with Dr Peter Cotton, has developed a practical, evidence based ‘Work Oriented Treatment’ (WOT) program to improve treatment and management of workplace psychological injuries in order to provide better return to work outcomes and to help mitigate the increasing costs and complications associated with the treatment of workplace psychological injury.  Delivered exclusively through CommuniCorp Group, WOT represents a best-practice to work-focussed treatment and makes Dr Cotton’s landmark work in this area available nationally. 

Across Australia there have been dramatic increases in costs and workplace disruptions related to psychological injuries in the workplace as well as secondary psychological injuries associated with persistent pain.  These are often complex matters that are difficult to manage for treating health professionals, workplace professionals and other related stakeholders.

The longer individuals stay off work, the less successful they are likely to ever be in returning to work in the future, and hence their long term health outcomes will be much worse (i.e., long-term unemployment is associated with up to four times poorer mental and physical health status compared with individuals participating in employment).  

WOT recognises that to expedite the return to pre-injury levels of workplace functioning, there needs to be active collaboration and mutual understanding between treating and workplace-related professionals.  Often there is a significant gap in the knowledge and ability of stakeholders in managing the rehabilitation of psychological injuries when compared to physical injuries.  Adding to this complexity is the frequent co-morbidity of psychological and physical injuries.  On the treatment side, there is generally an under-appreciation of the importance of incorporating a focus on return to work as part of the treatment rather than something that occurs subsequently. WOT has been developed to specifically address these issues to achieve better treatment outcomes for all stakeholders.   

WOT provides a practical, evidence-based and integrated approach for improving return to work outcomes following psychological injury through targeted  knowledge and skills development to augment treatment interventions.  WOT covers both compensable and non-compensable psychological injury, including cases where physical injury has been complicated by psychological concerns.   WOT recognises that the most effective outcomes for all parties are achieved when there is a consistent, integrated, work-focussed approach to case management adhered to by all stakeholders.

WOT has been specifically developed to support the Health Benefits of Work Agenda, the Australian National Clinical Framework and emerging issues such as the ‘Fit Certificate’.  WOT incorporates contemporary international research and recognises the critical role that work itself plays in achieving positive treatment and return to work outcomes.  Integrating psychological and work-related factors, and focusing on overcoming barriers to recovery of occupational function, WOT principles can be integrated into existing treatment and case management approaches to enhance their effectiveness. 

The WOT program provides options for different stakeholders, including a senior stakeholder seminar and two specialised workshops for professionals dealing with workplace psychological injury.

For more information about Work Oriented Treatment, or other CommuniCorp Group programs, please contact us on

Email  |   Phone   1300 855 140  |  Web

CommuniCorp proudly supporting Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association Conference

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Monday, April 14, 2014.

CommuniCorp is proud to be a supporting sponsor of the upcoming Australian Rehabilitation Providers Conference being held next month in Sydney.

Through our sponsorship of ARPA 2014, CommuniCorp is supporting the Workplace Rehabilitation industry across Australia. A featured session included on the CommuniCorp "Inspiring Business" stream is "Work Focussed Treatment - Operationalising the Health Benefits of Work in the Treatment of Injured Workers" delivered by Dr Peter Cotton.

Dr Peter Cotton  | Clinical & Organisational Psychologist

Peter is a Clinical & Organisational Psychologist specialising in occupational mental health and how work environments influence staff wellbeing and performance-related outcomes. He has published a number of book chapters and peer reviewed research papers in these areas. Peter works as an advisor to government and the corporate sector. He is currently a Senior Consultant with Medibank Specialist Services Unit and also conducts a private practice.

He presently holds professional appointments with: Advisory Group, Comcare Centre for Excellence in Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work; Beyond Blue Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health at Work; and SuperFriend (a not for profit mental health and wellbeing foundation funded by the industry superannuation funds with 580,000 employer members and 6.6 million employee members). 

Peter has a long involvement with the 'health benefits of work' agenda in Australia, and in early 2011, was appointed by the Australian Government to attend the Global Roundtable on Employment and Mental Health chaired by Professor Dame Carol Back in London. Recently, Peter has also worked as an Advisor to the Australian Psychological Society, assisting with the development of their Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program initiative that was launched in July 2013.

Peter has worked extensively with a wide range of Commonwealth agencies over the past decade. He is currently working with CSIRO (on a major organisational development and national psychosocial risk mitigation program), CDPP (end to end prevention program for lawyers working with child exploitation material), Comcare (leadership development), Human Services (safety leadership) and the ATO (leadership briefing sessions on workplace psychosocial risk issues). 

Peter has also just completed a project sponsored by the Australian Public Service Commission and Comcare, as the lead consultant, developing new guidelines and support materials for APS managers - Working Together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work released in Canberra on 24 July.

To learn more about ARPA 2014, click here.

To learn more about CommuniCorp Group and our work in this area, please call 1300 855 140 or email

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