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“Psychological Wellbeing: Applying a risk management approach and developing better prevention strategies”

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Tuesday, September 01, 2015.

Dr Chris Stevens gives keynote addresses for the international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills’ Safety Leadership Series events in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

With widespread recognition of the need to address workplace mental health there has been a proliferation of approaches, with quite variable effectiveness, adopted across corporate Australia. Not surprisingly, therefore, there were huge turnouts to hear Dr Chris Stevens put all this in perspective and give some practical, evidence-based guidelines.

The thrust of his talk was that organisations need to take a risk-management approach to actively promote workplace psychological health. Dr Stevens contrasted this with the current workplace emphasis on reactive community and not-for-profit based programs that are symptom and mental ill health oriented and which mostly take a tertiary, treatment and psychological injury approach.

Dr Stevens put the case very strongly that what is required is a commitment and capability to develop real early intervention capabilities, as well as adopting workplaces systems and processes that proactively address the psychosocial factors that influence psychological wellbeing in the workplace – not just ‘ticking the box’ with an EAP provision and a RUOK day. He made it clear that, the latter, while important, are insufficient as they tend to address symptoms not causes, and do not address psychosocial factors, culture, systems and practices that strongly influence wellbeing at work.

As reported in the Safety At Work blog, Dr Stevens addressed the need for organisations to develop a holistic approach when addressing psychosocial workplace hazards, and was critical of the common tokenistic approaches, which deliver little or no lasting benefit. (1) He also gave practical guidelines for actions and indications of what does work to minimise psychological risk, using case examples, including an emphasis on Safety and HR professionals working more closely together to address hazards that impact on psychological wellbeing.

In reality, a much more work-specific, strategic and evidence-based workplace approach is required – with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention and addressing the workplace systems and environment that influences psychological wellbeing.

If you would like guidance for your organisation in developing a more systematic approach to workplace mental health, get in touch with CommuniCorp on or 1300 855 140.

(1) SafetyAtWorkBlog:

Where can You hear from CommuniCorp experts?

CommuniCorp have been invited to join the program of many Australian conferences being hosted over the next few months. This is your chance to meet the team and learn from our experts on best practice in workplace mental health initiatives, developed both here in Australia and around the world. See a list of events on our calendar here.

If you plan on attending any of these upcoming events please let us know, we would be happy to arrange a one-on-one discussion to review your workplace mental health strategy. Email us at

Westpac recognised for leadership and commitment to improving Workplace Mental Health

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Monday, August 31, 2015.

CommuniCorp client Westpac was recently recognised as an ABA 100 Winner for Human Resource Management in The Australian Business Awards for their Aggressive Customer Training initiative, an initiative CommuniCorp was instrumental in executing

David Ninnes, Westpac Group Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing said, “Our vision is to be one of the world’s great service companies and programs like this focus on delivering great customer service through all types of customer interactions. Service leadership is about empowering our people to have great relationships with every customer and this program takes a new approach to responding to customer incidents."

Working directly with Westpac, CommuniCorp developed and delivered a unique face-to-face training program, and consulted in the development of online training tools and policy review that all worked seamlessly to create a holistic and preventative program.

After the program Westpac experienced a significant increase in the reporting of aggressive incidents - recognising that employees are adopting the "zero tolerance" approach promoted by the program - along with greater proactive action around minimising and preventing aggressive incidents in branches.

The reason for establishing the Aggressive Customer Training Program was primarily to protect employee wellbeing, assisting them in deescalating aggressive customers and to reduce the emotional cost to employees. All these factors effect employee’s ability to perform and therefore provide customers with a lesser service. The program has helped allow Westpac employees to understand the issues that relate to parts of society, which ultimately cause people to behave in such aggressive ways.

"Our employees are now able to resolve customer issues with confidence, building stronger, more positive relationships and taking ownership of the entire experience.” Ninnes says

Psychologically Safe & Healthy Workplaces Consulting Services

As experienced workplace psychologists, we at CommuniCorp recognise the importance of employing a strategic approach to psychological safety and health in the workplace, and understand what is practically required for programs and initiatives to have a genuine impact on an organisation’s psychological health. Our consulting services to corporate organisations provide exactly this advice. Through close consultation, guidance, and organisation-specific review and advice and utilising international best practice frameworks and strategy, CommuniCorp consulting services provide organisations with a clear action plan for building and enhancing the psychological safety and health for their workplace.

Review a full list of CommuniCorp Consulting Services on our website by clicking here. IF you would like to talk with one of the team to discuss your specific needs, please contact us on:

Phone: 1300 855 140


International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Friday, August 28, 2015.

CommuniCorp is proud to be attending the upcoming “International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership” (IIMHL) Leadership Exchange being held during September in Canada.

Representing CommuniCorp at the Leadership Exchange will be Director and Partner Dr Laura Kirby.

IIMHL is a unique “Government-to-Government” international initiative that focuses on improving mental health and addiction services. It is funded by the participating governments of each of the eight countries: Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, USA and Sweden.

The philosophy behind the IIMHL Leadership Exchange is that once key leaders are linked together, they have the opportunity to begin collaborating and building an international partnership. The aim is to build relationships and networks that are mutually helpful for leaders, organisations and countries.

National policies and directions have often been focused on clinical practices rather than recovery through mental health leadership. National perspectives such as those in Australia, Canada, England, the Republic of Ireland, NZ (New Zealand), Scotland, Sweden and the US (United States) realise that mental health leadership is just as vital to the success of community-based services as are effective clinical practices. IIMHL organises systems for international innovation sharing, networking and problem solving across countries and agencies. CommuniCorp is participating in the leadership match "Psychologically Safe Workplaces - the Psychological Safety Standard". Accompanied by other global leaders in this domain, the Exchange provides a valuable opportunity to learn how others are applying and implementing workplace strategies such as the Canadian Psychological Safety Standard.

Knowledge transfer among IIMHL countries includes not only the Leadership Exchange, but also promotion of workshops/training/education, research, support of learning collaboratives and information dissemination between Exchanges.

In a future newsletter Dr Kirby will share with the CommuniCorp community her observations and learning from the IIMHL Leadership Exchange.

For more information about the IIMHL Leadership Exchange please visit

Where can YOu hear from CommuniCorp experts?

CommuniCorp have been invited to join the program of many Australian conferences being hosted over the next few months. This is your chance to meet the team and learn from our experts on best practice in workplace mental health initiatives, developed both here in Australia and around the world. See a list of events on our calendar here.

If you plan on attending any of these upcoming events please let us know, we would be happy to arrange a one-on-one discussion to review your workplace mental health strategy. Email us at

New: Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services

Posted by Laura Kirby on Wednesday, July 15, 2015.

New: Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services

Let’s face it, sometimes managing workplace mental health related matters is tricky. At CommuniCorp, we recognise that organisations will not always have the internal capability to address inherently tricky, sometimes high-risk, people- management and psychological health related issues. It is quite common for senior HR/WHS personnel to feel ‘out of their depth’ or in need of a sounding board when it comes to managing complex workplace mental health related matters. To help remedy this, we are now offering organisations specialised workplace psychological health advisory services to extend internal HR/WHS capabilities.


Rather than EAP or Manager Assist type functions, these services provide ready access to CommuniCorp’s Principal Consultant Psychologists (telephone, or face to face) for:

  • Strategic advice on workplace psychological health and safety matters
  • Incident management
  • Program implementation support
  • Subject matter expertise on internal board/advisory panels


With CommuniCorp’s team on hand, organisations can significantly augment their existing strategic and operational workplace psychological health capabilities and can benefit from the decades of combined international experience in workplace mental ill-health prevention, early intervention and management. Our Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services are available on a retainer basis, from 4 hrs per month. With the ever increasing costs and complexity of psychological ill-health in the workplace, psychological injury claims and increasing frustration as to the effectiveness of many providers and activities in this domain, it makes sense to have access to the best independent, professional advice available.


For more information about our Workplace Psychological Health Advisory Services, please contact or call our Head Office on 1300 855 140.

Sharon Bent joins the CommuniCorp executive team

Posted by Jason Aitkens on Thursday, July 09, 2015.

CommuniCorp is excited to welcome on board Sharon Bent, joining our experienced team as a Principal Consultant Psychologist. Having consulted to CommuniCorp for several years, Sharon has now taken on an executive leadership position and will be heavily involved with national CommuniCorp operations and service delivery.
Sharon is a highly skilled organisational psychologist and coach with over 20 years experience facilitating groups and training programs in a wide variety of organisations including the NSW Parliament, Westpac, Herbert Smith Freehills, CSIRO, University of Sydney, National Measurement Institute, AstraZeneca, Telstra, Ageing Disability and Home Care, State Water, TransGrid, Australia Council for the Arts, National Prescribing Service, GE Finance, ING, University of Western Australia, Grand Pacific Health Pty Ltd, RailCorp, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, South Eastern and Southern NSW Area Health Services, and Sydney Airport Corporation to name a few. An expert coach and master coach trainer, Sharon draws on evidence-based tools from coaching and positive psychology to engage, motivate and inspire managers and leaders, to be and do their very best.

Sharon’s special interests involve developing a wide range of workplace and professional capabilities including high level motivating and influencing, organisational flourishing, resilience, management of complex people issues, psychological risk management, conflict savviness, high performance teams and maximising job-person fit. Her expertise in translating complex psychological principles into plain language practical strategies, coupled with her engaging and playful facilitation style, means that she is a highly sought after practitioner, particularly when the learning messages are challenging to receive and implement.

Sharon has a Masters of Applied Science (Organisational Psychology), Graduate Diploma in Applied Science (Coaching Psychology) and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Psychology Major. She is an Adjunct Supervisor (Placement) at Macquarie University and an active member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), College of Organisational Psychologists, Interest Group in Coaching Psychology and International Positive Psychology Association. She has also served on the Australian Psychological Society’s National Ethics Committee, contributing to the maintenance of high ethical and professional conduct amongst psychologists across Australia - a voluntary position for which she was nominated by her peers.


  • Graduate Diploma Applied Science (Coaching Psychology) University of Sydney 
  • Master of Applied Psychology (Organisational Psychology) University of New South Wales 
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Psychology major University of Wollongong


  • Registered Psychologist – Registration No. PSY0001138870  
  • Australian Psychological Society (APS): College of Organisational Psychologists 
  • APS Interest Group in Coaching Psychology International Positive Psychology Association 


  • Senior Consultant Psychologist, CommuniCorp
  • Consultant Psychologist, Master Coach Trainer, Hudson Talent Management 
  • Organisational Psychologist and Mediator, Davidson Trahaire 
  • Consultant Psychologist, Industrial Psychology Consultants 
  • Executive Director, Cumberland Health and Research Centre, University of Sydney
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