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Australian Governments at the Head of Workplace Health and Productivity Programs

Both local and international industry experts speaking at the Australian Health and Productivity Management Congress in Melbourne a few weeks ago spoke highly of Australian state governments for their leadership in workplace health and productivity management.

The president of the Health and Productivity Institute of Australia (HAPIA), Dr Toby Ford, praised health and wellbeing programs across the country in a speech to congress delegates, saying “In Australia we’re doing health and wellness really well,” and that good health was “the single greatest legacy an employer can give an employee”.

Sean Sullivan, the president and CEO of the US-based Institute for Health and Productivity Management also commended what is happening here in Australia, saying nowhere else in the world is the importance of health and productivity management “as sharply focused nor widely adopted”. Mr Sullivan particularly applauded the Victorian Government and its WorkHealth initiative for its leadership and development in corporate health promotion. “I’m really impressed with what is going on in the state of Victoria,” he said. “WorkHealth is an amazing example from the public sector.”

The Victorian government has committed $200 million over the next 5 years to WorkHealth, an initiative run by WorkSafe aiming to improve the health of Victorian workers through voluntary workplace health programs. The initiative is designed to benefit not only the workers themselves, but also the employers and community at large by reducing the incidence of preventable illnesses.

As the government sees it, by participating in health programs, employees reduce their risk of developing serious illness while improving their overall quality of life. Employers in turn benefit from a healthier, happier and more productive workforce with less absenteeism, and the community benefits from a reduction in health care costs.

WorkHealth includes both workplace health checks and health promotion grants of up to $50 per employee to be used to deliver a professionally run, tailored health and wellbeing program.

In an interview with Government News, Mr Sullivan gave credit to the Victorian government for looking beyond general ‘safety’ in the workplace to focus on improving the health and wellbeing of Victorian workers. “Safety is not the biggest issue anymore,” he said “The biggest challenge is getting employers to see that employees are their human capital and the health of the human capital is just as important as the knowledge or technology base.”

Good on Australia for leading the way in recognising this important point – that people are the most valuable assets of all, and that protecting our precious health is a worthy investment.

For more information on Workplace Health and Productivity, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888)  or contact us.

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