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Staff Wellness Channel & R U OK?Day
Staff Wellness Channel & R U OK?Day
Mental health is taken very seriously for both staff and students at Excelsia College. Our People and Culture team have been busy working behind the scenes to create a Wellness Channel, an extension of the Work, Health & Safety Committee (WHSC), and part of Excelsia's longstanding wellbeing plan. Beatrice Lorquet, Chief Operating Officer says, ‘R U OK?Day has been celebrated for many years at Excelsia College with a variety of activities for both staff and students. Our aim this year especially is to foster an open conversation, being vulnerable, sharing our life’s ups and downs, and connecting with and supporting others, especially as we are all away from each other physically. R U OK?Day is also a great opportunity to stop and say thank you to everyone who is there for us and to reflect on how we can be there for them.’
Cat Hillery, People and Culture Coordinator explains, ‘The aim of the Wellness Channel is to create an interactive forum that allows more room for connection, collaboration and resource sharing on wellness for our staff.’ Due to being a social and interactive platform, Microsoft Teams seemed the ideal fit and allows our staff to chat, call, video and share resources. The WHSC also decided to go one step further and create a homepage that pools together a variety of helpful resources. Amongst these are links to our employee assistance program, Uprise, Lifeline, NSW Health, BeUpstanding and PeaceWise. On a monthly basis, the People and Culture team update the rest of the homepage content and resources to showcase a new wellness theme, which is announced by the WHSC.
‘In August, for example, the Wellness Channel highlighted Sleep Awareness with a focus on what we can do to improve sleep quality. The homepage housed links to articles, links to the Sleep Foundation, YouTube videos and short courses on sleep,’ says Cat.
Rachel Thompson, Manager of People and Culture explains, ‘The Excelsia Conversation Challenge is just that – a challenge! As a College that upholds the value of Lifelong Learning, we recognise this value in its fullness: personal, spiritual, professional, collegial, and more. The Conversation Challenge therefore encourages staff to prioritise learning and supporting others through connections with community members, seeking to follow the R U OK? model to make asking R U OK? part of our everyday!’
The website also includes a link to an Australian Government initiative Be Connected, aimed at older Australians who don’t have a lot of knowledge of digital devices and on how they can be connected while physically distant. This is a way for staff to learn to connect with community.
This year, the College worked on a two-week leadup to R U OK?Day, challenging staff to have conversations, to step out of the classroom and normal meeting context and to be more uninhibited with one another.
‘We want to normalise this behaviour and make it a part of our everyday. We want to share what we learn, a reflective process, enter into conversations, check in, follow up, share inspirational stories and reach out,’ Rachel shares.
The team have already seen an increase in the number of staff engagement through virtual morning teas. The online morning tea gatherings could be centred around a theme or simply a time to come together over coffee or tea. ‘People who may not be open to coming to a morning tea at work physically are more willing to engage with staff virtually,’ Cat explains. ‘People will ask one another how they are going and it’s a question mark, not a closed sentence. There is genuine dialogue and care.’