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Designing well-being models with strategic leadership

30 March - 1 April 2021 | Sydney

Intensified by the impacts of COVID-19, the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s population is highly vulnerable and in steep decline. Three in five workers in Australia experienced a mental health condition in 2020.  

Unsafe psychological health is estimated to cost Australian organisations $6 billion per annum in lost productivity. Poor mental health outcomes are not only expensive for organisations in terms of lost profit; they are a considerable compliance risk. Workplaces have a legal responsibility to manage risks to mental wellbeing, just like they do with any other health and safety risk.   

With the current workforce mental health crisis in mind, Akolade has invited Australia’s leading wellness and mental health champions from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to gather together in 2021 to share their strategic leadership models and stories of innovative wellness design for the workplace. 

Attend this forum and learn how to:

Develop strategic and empathetic 

Build greater organisational capability to prevent and manage poor mental health 

Design work for optimal wellness integrated with desirable business outcomes  

Create a culture of transparency around mental health issues to tackle stigma 

Drive engagement and connection with meaningful balanced work 

Build and implement an inclusive framework to attract and retain diverse talent 


James Kelly
Director Health and Safe Design
SafeWork NSW 

Lucinda Brogden AM
National Mental Health Commission 

Kim Grady
Head of Group Safety Wellbeing and Governance
Australia Post 

Ana Marinkovic
Executive General Manager, Business Direct and Small Business

Michael Schneider
Managing Director
Bunnings Group  

David Brewster
Chief Legal and Safety Officer
Coles Group

Felicity McDowell
Legal Director
Johnson & Johnson
Consumer Health
Australia and New Zealand

Danielle Odd
Group Head of Safety Strategy

Meg Tecson
National Manager, Workers Compensation and Injury Management

Louise Dubois
Director Safety and Recovery Unit
NSW Ambulance

Amanda Reid
National HSE Manager

Deborah Yates
National Managing Partner People and Corporate Affairs
KPMG Australia

Leyla Parbery
Head of Benefits, Wellbeing Specialist
Deutsche Bank

Amanda Watt
Partner, Employment
Law Practice Leader,
Board Member
Minter Ellison

Megan Kingham
Director Staff Health
NSW Ambulance 

Alexia Houston
Head of Insurance and Risk
Clayton Utz
Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia 

Kathryn Bellion
Head of People Experience
King and Wood Mallesons 

Ryan Ghisi
General Manager,
Global People Programs
Xero New Zealand

Kamal Sarma
Managing Director,

Louise Howard
Head of Health and Safety
Sydney Metro
AFR BOSS Young Executive 2020

Mitch Wallis
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Heart on my Sleeve
Expert Advisor
Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia 

Sean Hall
Productivity and Mental Wellbeing Consultant


9:00 AM -12:00 PM | Workshop A 

Providing high potential talent with mental health in the 4th industrial revolution

The future of work is upon us, requiring us to redefine high potential talent. Join Sean Hall CEO of human performance company Energx for an introduction to ‘The EX Factor’ – a new employee experience capability framework designed by assessing 8,000 professionals globally from organisations like Facebook, Unilever, Deloitte and Amazon.

Join this eye-opening workshop if you’d like to:

• Compare your current talent to high performance benchmarks designed for the 4IR

• Recruit, retain and develop talent to excel in times of change and uncertainty

• Connect strategic priorities of productivity, inclusion, innovation and mental wellbeing

• Be a force for positive change in your organisation

Facilitated by: Sean Hall, Productivity and Mental Wellbeing ConsultantEnergx 

12:00 PM | Networking lunch 

1:00-4:00 PM | Workshop B   

Strategies for building mental resilience within your workforce 

This three-hour “building resilience” training workshop session takes a closer look at what happens when our body is under stress and reviews how these body reactions influence our thinking and behaviour. Participants will review what it means to be resilient and learn to reframe the things that happen as challenges rather than threats or problems. The strategies learnt in this course provide participants with practical tools they can implement within their organisations.  

Learning objectives: 

  • Learn strategies to improve personal levels of resilience 
  • How to identify and mitigate early signs of stress 
  • Learn strategies to reframe negative events 
  • Increase levels of resilient thinking 
  • Learn relaxation techniques to mitigate stress response 
  • Enhance personal wellbeing 

8:00 AM | Registration opens 

9:00 AM | Opening remarks from the Chair 
Sean Hall, Productivity and Mental Wellbeing ConsultantEnergx 

9:10 AM | KEYNOTEIntegrating wellbeing into the design of work itself 

  • Strengthening the link between worker wellbeing and organisational performance 
  • Restructuring work in ways that help workers feel and perform at their best 
  • Driving organisational performance and productivity with healthy design 
  • Supporting wellbeing: not just for individuals but for teams and for the organisation 

James KellyDirector Health and Safe DesignSafeWork NSW 

9:50 AM | KEYNOTE: What does the future of work mean for our mental health? 

  • What are the mental health effects of a gig economy and a trend towards precarious contract-based employment? 
  • Pros and cons of remote and gig work on mental health outcomes 
  • What learnings can organisations take on from the gig economy? 
  • Weaving flexibility and autonomy into office life: empowering and engaging workers to be responsible for and confident in their decision making abilities 

Lucinda Brogden AMChair, National Mental Health Commission 

10:30 AM | CASE STUDY: Tackling the stigma around mental health issues 

  • What does current data reveal about prevalent attitudes? 
  • Increasing mental health literacy to elevate the conversation 
  • Benefits to the wider organisation from reducing shame and increasing transparency 
  • Effectively championing recovery, treatment and participation 

Alexia Houston, Head of Insurance and Risk, Clayton UtzFounding Member, Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia 

11:10 AM | Morning break 

11:40 AM | CASE STUDY: How we supported our people’s wellbeing during the pandemic  

  • How we mitigated the vastly different risks to psychological safety for our frontline essential workers and our corporate support staff working remotely 
  • What we discovered from implementing new strategies to mitigate uncertainty during a time of significant operational challenges 
  • Making the ROI connection: aligning customer and community expectations, financial outcomes, reputation and adaptability with wellness design   

Kim GradyHead of Group Safety Wellbeing and GovernanceAustralia Post 

12:20 PM | CASE STUDY: Mirvac’s strategy for building health and well-being

  • Launching Thrive: out ‘work Safe, Stay Safe’ program 
  • Providing employees with access to personalized health and well-being assessment tools
  • Creating a collaborative and accessible digital health, safety and well-being space   
  • Aiming fro a 20% baseline improvement on personalized health and well-being assessments 

Amanda Reid, National HSE Manager, Mirvac 

1:00 PM | Networking Lunch 

2:00 PM | CASE STUDY: Mental health and diversity in the workplace: Are corporate mental health programs fit for purpose for minority groups?

Coles is Australia’s largest private sector employer of indigenous Australians, with over 4,000 indigenous team members. A recent team member survey also indicated that almost 9% of Coles’ 120,000 team members identify as members of the LGBTI community.

  • What specific mental health needs can minority groups have?
  • How relevant are corporate mental health programs for the needs of minority groups? Are they culturally appropriate or inclusive?
  • What are the issues and areas of focus that need to be considered in safeguarding the mental health of indigenous and LGBTI team members?

David Brewster, Chief Legal and Safety Officer, Coles Group

2:40 PM | PANEL DISCUSSION: Who owns wellbeing? Designing for greater agency 

  • How do you establish the right level of responsibility for wellbeing ownership? 
  • Which organisational and HR data gives the greatest insights into the workforce’s wellbeing needs? How should the data be measured? 
  • How can processes be put in place to engage employees in work design deliberations? 
  • How can employees best be included the design process to ensure a valuable impact? 
  • What opportunities for HR are represented by ownership for work and wellbeing? 

Moderator: Mitch Wallis, Founder and Chief Executive OfficerHeart on my Sleeve, Expert Advisor, Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia 

Megan KinghamDirector Staff HealthNSW Ambulance 

Kim GradyHead of Group Safety Wellbeing and GovernanceAustralia Post 

Deborah Yates, National Managing Partner People and Corporate Affairs, KPMG Australia

Danielle Odd, Group Head of Safety Strategy, Nine

3:20 PM | Afternoon Refreshment 

3:50 PM | CASE STUDY: Embracing opportunities for growth and development of resilience 

  • Developing and implementing NAB’s business resilience wellbeing program in response to mental health challenges 
  • Unlocking resilience by building employee adaptability 
  • Realising how adaptability will prepare employees for greater success after this crisis 
  • Developing and implementing NAB’s business resilience wellbeing program in response to mental health challenges 

Ana MarinkovicExecutive General Manager, Business Direct and Small Business, NAB 

4:30 PM | Building leadership competence and confidence in mental health

  • Fostering positive mental wellbeing and psychological safety
  • Equipping leaders with the mental health toolkit to feel confident to ‘lean in’ to these human conversations
  • Self-care strategies to better equip leaders to role model ways of working
  • Our new reality and mental wellbeing: navigating a more complex mental health and wellbeing landscape

Deborah Yates, National Managing Partner People and Corporate Affairs, KPMG Australia

5:10 PM | Closing remarks from the chair and end of day one 

8:30 AM | Registration opens 

9:00 AM | Opening remarks from the Chair 
Sean Hall, Productivity and Mental Wellbeing ConsultantEnergx 

Building a culture of wellness

9:10 AM | CASE STUDY: Wellbeing innovation at Bunnings: Redesigning how we work

  • Supporting the mental health of our teams in Melbourne during 8 months of isolation
  • Structuring work so that performance does not depend on any single individual
  • Giving workers more control over when and where they work to increase productivity
  • Using technology to support and promote greater connectivity and collaboration
  • Improving access to additional human or material resources to avoid risk to organisational performance in times of mental stress

Michael SchneiderManaging DirectorBunnings Group
* Virtual

9:50 AM | Increasing organisational wellness capability with effective people management 

  • Four recent initiatives KWM’s have implemented to support metal health and wellbeing
  • Ensuring employees have ongoing dialogue about health and wellbeing with managers 
  • Empowering line managers, supervisors or organisational leaders with ongoing training 
  • Training and supporting line managers and supervisors in effective management practices 

Kathryn BellionHead of People ExperienceKing and Wood Mallesons 

10:30 AM | Morning Refreshments 

11:00 AM | CASE STUDY: Best practice for early intervention and prevention of poor mental health 

  • Building Metcash’s Mental Health First Aid network and determining its boundaries
  • Prioritising wellbeing conversations and connection with the workforce
  • Identifying employees struggling with their mental health
  • Conducting sensitive conversations with staff undergoing mental distress
  • Creating a safe environment for employees who are experiencing distress remotely
  • Equipping employees with mental health first aid skills to assist colleagues undergoing acute mental distress

Meg TecsonNational Manager, Workers Compensation and Injury Management, Metcash 

11:40 AM | PANEL DISCUSSION How can we leverage the disruption and negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to enable positive, sustainable change? 

This interactive peer-to-peer, moderator led informal discussion will look at how the pandemic has impacted employee mental health and wellbeing, and why it may benefit companies to navigate a more purposeful path in the future to encourage a culture of wellbeing in not only the lives of their employees and organisations, but in wider society too 

Moderator:  Kamal Sarma, Managing Director, Co-founder, Rezilium

Louis Howard, Head of Health and Safety, Sydney Metro, AFR BOSS Yound Executive 2020
Louise Dubois, Director safety and Recovery Unit, NSW Ambulance, Ambassador, RUOK?
Felicity McDowell, Legal director, Johnson & Johnson Heath Australia and New Zealand

12:20 PM | Networking Lunch 

1:20 PM | CASE STUDY: Designing a workforce experience that provides balance and meaning 

  • Integrating a comprehensive wellness strategy into the way we design work 
  • Developing integrated and evidence-informed approaches to wellness 
  • Designing a workforce experience that provides balance and meaning 
  • Maximising our people’s experience of work 

Leyla Parbery, Head of Benefits, Wellbeing Specialist, Deutsche Bank

2:00 PM | CASE STUDY:  Driving a thriving culture of connection through diversity and inclusion 

  • Using culture as a preventative approach in optimising mental health and wellbeing  
  • Building an employee experience centred around psychological safety, diversity and inclusion    
  • What COVID-19 has highlighted in the importance of this intersection, and how we have adapted our employee experience to the new normal 

Felicity McDowell, Legal Director, Johnson & Johnson Heath Australia and New Zealand

2:40 PM | Afternoon refreshments 

3:10 PM | CASE STUDY: Are we setting the right expectations?

  • Supporting and encouraging employees to tackle their financial difficulties
  • Increasing levels of employer engagement by investing in employee financial wellbeing
  • Initiating and embedding culture change: the business case for employee debt reduction
  • Providing financial management training and providing financial support where appropriate

Louis Dubois, Director Safety and Recovery Unit, NSW Ambulance, Ambassador RUOK?

3:40 PM | CASE STUDY: Designing connected remote work without sacrificing work-life balance

  • Reducing risks from ‘leaveism’: setting clear boundaries between work and personal time
  • Driving policy-driven culture change with greater use of flexible working arrangements
  • Encouraging people to take their annual leave and ‘switch off’ by adequately training staff
  • Enabling smoother redistribution of work if employees are overstretched
  • Ensuring that line managers are trained to manage the workloads of team members

Ryan Ghisi, General Manager, Global People Programs, Xero New Zealand

4:20 PM I Designing an inclusive framework to attract, engage and retain new hires

  • What’s the business case for prioritising inclusivity in hiring of employees?
  • Bridging the gap between education and work by offering opportunities for young people
  • Building the talent pipeline and ensuring social and age diversity
  • Up-skilling, developing and engaging the workforce with the talent and skills required for success
  • Highlighting the value and returns on workforce investment to employees, leaders and investor

Amanda Watt, Partner: Employment Law Practice Leader: Board Member, Minter Ellison

5:00 PM | Closing remarks from the Chair and end of day two 


Early bird discount

Book now and save $400

Team discount 

Register 3-4 delegates and receive an additional 15% DISCOUNT off the standard price
Register 5-7 delegates and receive an additional 20% DISCOUNT off the standard price

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