Health Benefits of Good Work eNewsletter December 2015

We are excited to launch the first edition of the new six-monthly eNewsletter specifically dedicated to the Health Benefits of Good Work. 

The Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) is an initiative from the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM). AFOEM is a Faculty of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

The HBGW initiative has gained significant momentum over the past year or so with a number of important steps made to advance this agenda across the industry and health sectors and the community. The major activities are listed below. Further information on each of these activities is provided in this eNewsletter.

  • Emphasis on the importance of “good” work: the Health Benefits of Work (HBOW) initiative has been rebranded Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW).
  • Establishment of the HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group.
  • Establishment of the Australian HBGW Signatory Steering Group (AUSSG).
  • Decision to form a HBGW Health Steering Group (HSG).
  • Health Benefits of Good Work Developments in New Zealand: 
    o New Zealand Health Benefits of Good Work Conference in April 2015 with Dame Carol Black
    o Initial steps in  establishing the New Zealand HBGW Signatory Steering Group (NZSSG).
  • Session devoted to  HBGW at the RACP Annual Congress in May 2015.
  • Development of the HBGW Charter of Principles for signatories.
  • Updating the evidence base underpinning the  HBGW philosophy. 
  • A survey of all Consensus Statement signatories has been conducted. 

Emphasis on the importance of “good” work in HBOW

Recent evidence on the Health Benefits of Work (HBOW) has shown that poor quality work can be as negative as unemployment in terms of health outcomes, a renewed emphasis on the importance of ‘good’ quality is therefore essential. 

AFOEM is in the process of rebranding HBOW to HBGW: Health Benefits of
Good Work.

The HBOW Stakeholder Executive Group

AFOEM established the HBGW Executive Group in September 2014 to determine the strategic direction for the implementation of the health benefits of good work into the industry and health sectors to advance AFOEM’s policy in this area.

This Executive Group comprises six members:

  • three AFOEM Fellows: Dr David Beaumont, President of AFOEM; Dr Robin Chase, Chair of AFOEM’s Policy & Advocacy Committee,  and Dr Warren Harrex, appointed as Chair of the Executive Group
  • two RACP policy staff: Lisa Dive and Claire Celia
  • one stakeholder representative from industry: Suzanne Jones, NSW Advisory State Manager at Xchanging.

The Stakeholder Executive Group recommended the establishment of two steering groups to develop and implement coordinated initiatives into both industry and health sectors: the HBGW Signatory Steering Group and the HBGW Health Steering Group. Further information on these steering groups is included below.

The Australian Health Benefits of Good Work Signatory Steering Group 

In January 2015, a Signatory Steering Group (SSG) was established in Australia. The SSG comprises 15 members from a range of stakeholders including statutory authorities, healthcare organisations, re/insurers and national employers. Members were selected following a competitive Expression of Interest process open to Australian signatories to the Consensus Statement.

The purpose of the SSG is to further champion the integration of the HBGW policy agenda in the industry sector. It has developed into a forum to share information and collaborate on initiatives that will enable organisations to implement HBOW programs as well as champion improvements throughout industry.

All member organisations have agreed to contribute to:

  • implementing strategies developed by the HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group
  • progressing the integration of the health benefits of good work policy agenda – as set out in the Consensus and Position Statements – across stakeholder groups with a focus on industry sectors and government authorities 
  • facilitating growth of the Consensus Statement signatory base
  • contributing to the HBGW evidence base
  • supporting advocacy for continuous improvement in public policy around work and health through ongoing structured and formalised dialogue
  • identifying exemplar organisations, sharing information and collaborating on initiatives that enable organisations to implement HBGW programs
  • championing policy improvements within industry
  • working collectively and in partnership to safeguard the integrity of the HBGW initiative.

​Message from the Australian HBGW SSG Chair 

The Australian HBGW SSG comprises individuals committed to promoting the message that good work is good for health and important for everyone. Our group is unanimous in the belief that change will not occur without support.  There is much to do and much to change to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable paradigm shift in thinking, behaviour and employment practice that will maximise people's access to the health benefits of good work. 

2015 SSG initiatives

Here is a summary of the work underway which we believe will serve as a catalyst for ongoing and structured dialogue that will drive positive change in a very practical and sustained way. 

Initiative 1, led by Rebecca Parton aims to develop HBGW resources for a range of stakeholders. Work has commenced with the evaluation of current resources in combination with identified needs. No doubt input from the HBGW Signatory Survey will inform this process. A gap analysis will then be undertaken and a project plan developed to address the findings. 

Initiative 2 will look to establish alliances and partnerships with community based agencies and the human services and education sectors. Megan Buick will lead this work which will take the HBGW message into these influential sectors. Historically these groups have not been actively engaged in the HBGW agenda or become signatories to the Consensus Statement. 

Under the guidance of Dawn Piebenga, initiative 3 seeks to incorporate a HBGW focus into existing industry recognition and awards programs by partnering with organisations already committed to recognising high achievers in other spheres. This initiative will recognise exemplar organisations working in the HBGW space or those who embed these principles into their organisations. 

Sue Richardson will oversee initiative 4, developing a pro-forma business case to underpin signatory application and associated organisational change. This will incorporate the summarised evidence, from a financial perspective, supportive of health and wellbeing.
Initiative 5 is well underway with a mission to build the HBGW brand and profile. Christianna Johnson is leading this work with efforts to engage Consensus Statement organisations through the HBGW Signatory Survey and activities planned to facilitate ongoing collaboration. 

Morag Fitzsimons and Carly VanDenAkker are working to identify common challenges facing insurers and employers which inhibit the seamless message of return to good work across compensable jurisdictions. This work was launched earlier this year by Dame Carol Black in Sydney through a cross-jurisdictional industry forum jointly supported by AMP, SwissRe and the Financial Services Council.      

The final initiative tackles a critical step in paradigm shift - to translate the HBGW philosophy into sustainable behavioural change. Nikki Brouwers has carriage for this work which is underpinned by a behavioural economics approach 

What is achievable as an individual is magnified through consensus.
Collectively, and within our own sphere of influence, we hope to make a difference - leading by example, incorporating HBGW messaging into our daily communication and working to amend outdated practices.  

Together we can drive greater change and achieve widespread acceptance of the premise that access to good work is an effective means of reducing poverty, social exclusion and all its associated and sometimes tragic ill-effects.

Please, come join us! 
Suzanne Jones

If you are interested to find out more about the Australian HBGW SSG, please contact Ms Suzanne Jones on

Health Benefits of Good Work Health Steering Group (HSG)

The mission of the HSG is for all healthcare professionals to implement the health benefits of good work into their practice. To this end, a number of medical and allied health organisations have been invited to become members of this group. This group will develop initiatives that are likely to result in both attitudinal and effective behaviour change in health professionals with respect to HBGW. Further information on HSG initiatives will feature in future editions of this eNewsletter.

Health Benefits of Good Work Developments in New Zealand

New Zealand event: Implications of the Health Benefits of Work for New Zealand

On 1 April 2015, AFOEM hosted a successful forum in Wellington, New Zealand. This event was held to discuss the implications of the Health Benefits of Good Work for New Zealand and to explore ways in which the Health Benefits of Good Work initiative could be advanced. 

The New Zealand Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Anne Tolley MP, officially opened the meeting. Professor Dame Carol Black, Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the United Kingdom Department of Health and Public Health gave the keynote address on the implications of the health benefits of good work for New Zealand. This was followed by an engaging panel discussion consisting of eight signatories representing employers, unions, government and insurers.

Videos of the presentations and discussions are available for viewing.

New Zealand Health Benefits of Good Work Signatory Steering Group (NZ SSG)

AFOEM recently launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) to all New Zealand signatories to the Consensus Statement. Applications close Friday, 18 December. They will be evaluated by members of the HBGW Stakeholder Executive Group and membership of the NZ SSG will be announced in the coming weeks. 

The establishment of the NZ SSG will present a unique opportunity for trans-Tasman collaboration to spread the Health Benefits of Good Work message across both countries.

Updates on initiatives and activities from the NZ SSG will be included in future editions of this eNewsletter.

RACP Congress 2015

The RACP annual Congress took place in May this year and included a session dedicated to the Health Benefits of Good Work with a presentation on the Future of the Health Benefits of Work by Dr Warren Harrex, Chair of the RACP’s Health Benefits of Good Work Stakeholder Executive Group followed by presentations on the Industry Perspective by Mr Mark Raberger, Ms Suzanne Jones (Chair of the Australian Signatory Steering Group), and Mr Than Tran.

Videos of the presentations are available to view online.

The Charter of Principles

AFOEM has developed a Charter of Principles which draws out the key principles outlined in the HBOW Consensus Statement and its two companion position statements (‘​What is Good Work’ and ‘Health and Productivity’) available from the RACP website.

The Charter of Principles document is intended for Signatories to display in their own facilities.

Reviewing the evidence base

AFOEM is committed to evidence-based policy. With the Consensus Statement dating back to 2011, the need to produce a contemporary policy statement was identified as essential to support ongoing advocacy in this area. 

This update will strengthen AFOEM’s efforts in advocating for the implementation of healthy workplace practices to ensure that all organisations support their people to flourish in good, healthy, as well as safe, work environments. 

Since publication of the Consensus Statement, emerging evidence has demonstrated the negative effect absence of quality work or ‘good’ work can have on mental health. The evidence base highlights the importance of recovery at work practices and need for better collaboration between healthcare providers and employers.    

Download Realising the health benefits of work – An evidence update (PDF 238KB).

Survey of signatories

AFOEM has undertaken a survey of all signatories to provide collective insight into the range of HBOW activities being undertaken by signatories; what type of information these organisations are interested in receiving from, and providing to, AFOEM and other signatories. 

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey, your input is invaluable as we will use the information gathered in the survey to better engage with your organisations and other relevant stakeholders.

Further information on the survey including headline findings will be included in the next edition of this eNewsletter.

Keep up the good work and spread the word!

If you would like to share your organisation’s experience with the Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) initiative in future editions of this eNewsletter, please contact AFOEM on We look forward to hearing from you.

We are committed to growing the Consensus Statement signatory base so please pass on this eNewsletter to any organisations who are not a signatory so they can sign up! New signatories should go the HBGW signatory application page to sign up.

Keep an eye out for our next update in six months’ time!
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