Tamworth businesses claim the third highest amount of workers compensation of any area in regional NSW according to Insurance and Care NSW.
Icare are the governing body that insures over 60,000 employers in the north west region, which is why they chose Tamworth to host a mental health seminar ‘Share the Journey’ on Thursday.
Over 60 local employers attended the half day, which saw three concurrent sessions being run on different topics and aspects, with former Armidale NRL player and mental health advocate Dean Widders acting as guest speaker.
Regional Relationship Manager David Huxley said “locally in the past 12 months icare have paid out over $2 million towards supporting people with psychological injuries through workers compensation.”
“Basically the different workshops have been talking people though different practical solutions,” he said.
“For instance one workshop was about the importance of social connections, another about the importance of some of the little things you can do to support your workers on a day to day basis.”
The seminar didn’t only look at ways employers can identify, manage and support employees facing mental health issues, but also on how they can build a more resilient workplace.
The sessions were run by the icare mobile engagement team, who run more than 30 similar seminars annually throughout the state, although the Tamworth event was the only mental health seminar run outside of the cities.
“Tamworth has been identified as an area with a need to meet with employers based on it being the third highest region in terms of mental health claims and expenses,” Mr Huxley said.
While there is no obvious reason for those statistics, the Tamworth region does contain a few social and economic factors that could contribute to the higher incidents.
“Local factors always contribute, so you think about the drought, but also the types of industries, unemployment and other social factors,” Mr Huxley said.
While Tamworth does have above average rates of unemployment, and the drought has taken an obvious toll, the region is also a regional health hub.
Incredibly almost 44 per cent of all mental health claims stem from the health and community services sector.
“That is across the board statewide and includes hospitals, allied health, aged care, disability care and other similar roles,” Mr Huxley said.
“So physical roles, but also roles where people may face difficult challenges and challenging people.”