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CSC widens mental health support activities

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Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation has partnered with Lifeline to bolster mental health support services and to assist programs aimed at destigmatising mental illness. The super fund joined SuperFriend as that organisation’s 24th super industry partner in August last year.

The three-year partnership with Lifeline will see CSC, which has 730,000 members and more than $50 billion under management, actively promote Lifeline’s awareness, education, and support services as well as providing funding to broaden the organisation’s 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Announcing the new partnership last week (January 14), Damian Hill, the CSC chief executive, said over the past 12 months there had been a spike in CSC members reporting mental ill-health which mirrored the increase in the broader community, and it was important that support and suicide prevention services are in a position to meet the increasing demand.

“The past 12 months have been a particularly challenging period for many people and we have seen a rise in mental health issues across our community,” he said.

“Mental health support and suicide prevention is something that needs an immediate response because the ramifications can last a lifetime and in some cases it is a matter of life or death.”

Hill has been a long-time believer in the need for better facilities for people suffering from mental illness. He was previously the chair of SuperFriend for 14 years, until he retired as chief executive of industry Fund REST in 2018. He took on the top job at CSC in June 2020.

SuperFriend, which started out with the aim to help destigmatise mental problems in the workplace, has broadened its remit, with the backing of several group insurance companies, to include setting standards for things such as disability and other medical claims as they impact on those suffering from mental illness. It also undertakes the largest annual survey of both employer and employee attitudes to mental illness in Australia.

Hill said the new partnership would support Lifeline to answer every call for help while also working towards destigmatizing mental illness amongst CSC’s customers and staff and within the broader community.
“Unfortunately there is still some stigma attached to mental ill-health and that is something CSC is committed to breaking down,” he said. “Within CSC, we will work with Lifeline to promote a workplace culture where mental health is destigmatised and our staff are supported and encouraged to seek help if they need it.

We want to lead by example, and one of our goals is to demonstrate to other workplaces that when mental ill-health is acknowledged and accepted the outcomes for staff and workplaces improve.” CSC has committed to the sharing of resources with Lifeline, staff training, advocacy, and projects to address the specific needs of our customers, including Australia’s current and former Australian Defence Force personnel. CSC’s public service membership base includes the ADF.

Colin Seery, Lifeline chief executive, said the partnership with CSC had come at a crucial time with increasing numbers of Australians experiencing mental health issues as a result of COVID-19 and its wide-spread impacts.

“This year, over one million Australians will reach out to Lifeline for support. The 13 11 14 crisis support line receives a call every 30 seconds. The demand for our service has greatly increased throughout 2020 with the first week of 2021 seeing more calls received than any other week in our 57-year history, so the need for assistance continues to grow,” he said.

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