The Emergency Services Foundation (ESF) has been funded for two years by WorkSafe WorkWell to Chair a Learning Network for Victoria’s emergency management sector. The ESF member agencies identified that within agencies, training for managers and leaders is crucial for cultural change and must be a priority focus for training programs. The Learning Network determined a new way of helping line managers lead for better mental health was required.

The Leading for Better Mental Health Program was co-designed via nine months of conversations and targeted evidence gathering activities to understand the gaps between leadership for mental health best practice and current agency activities. It was felt that no matter what agency they serve, team managers had common experiences so could learn from working together. The program aims to meet the needs of people who are responsible for leading frontline teams.

A pilot program was undertaken involving 52 people from 12 agencies. The anticipated delivery was face-to-face, but due to COVID-19 a hybrid model was offered. Delivery of the program commenced in March 2021 and was completed in November 2021. The pilot evaluation has been undertaken by the Charles Sturt University Workforce Wellness Research Unit (WWRU). This report outlines the evaluation process, findings, and recommendations.

The evaluation process received Charles Sturt’s ethics approval for human research. The process adopted a mixed method approach, gathering qualitative and quantative evidence from a range of stakeholders including pre, during and post-delivery.

Overall, the findings reveal the Leading for Better Mental Health Program was highly valued by participants, Executive, and Agency Sponsors alike. The analysis has shown high satisfaction ratings with all aspects of the program, and an increase in self-efficacy scores for mental health literacy, and in learning outcomes.

Most Agency Sponsors identified the program either fills a gap of mental health training and education, or complements existing in-house training programs. Participants acknowledge the unique nature of the program provided some great benefits such as,
• offering the opportunity for inter-agency collaboration,
• the involvement of the Executive,
• the level of expertise of the presenters which would not necessarily be accessible to all agencies.

All participants identified that it is valuable to have an option for an inter-agency program that builds connections between these emergency management organisations (EMOs). Some participants identified the program as having a profound positive impact on them personally and their confidence in identifying individuals who may need help or in advocating for areas of improvement within their circle of influence.

Training and development programs often focus on the individual. The Leading for Better Mental Health Program departed from this more traditional approach by providing opportunities for agencies to address organisation-specific issues relating to workplace culture and attitudes to mental health and wellbeing, while also identifying organisational barriers to improved mental health education and training. The program offered the opportunity to learn from each other and build networks that will benefit their individual and collective responses in future emergency events.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWagga Wagga, NSW
PublisherCharles Sturt University
Commissioning bodyEmergency Services Foundation
Number of pages61
ISBN (Electronic)9781864674194
ISBN (Print)9781864674187
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022

Grant Number

  • 103307


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