Our psychologically safe workplace program

This program is an initiative that requires ongoing collaboration between SafeWork NSW, key stakeholders, and businesses of NSW.

It will inform and empower Aboriginal people and the businesses that employ them, including Aboriginal-run organisations, to:

  • take on all health and safety responsibilities
  • to operate with good governance principles
  • to create mentally healthy workplaces for all.


In 2017, the Working Environment and Health Team of SafeWork NSW was approached by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Centre (AHMRC), and other Aboriginal organisations, to run a state-wide program for business that focused on the psychological wellbeing issues experienced by Aboriginal workers.

The focus for the program needed to include both Aboriginal-run and non-Aboriginal run businesses.


Initial meetings with key stakeholders confirmed an ongoing need for comprehensive support and information for Aboriginal-run businesses about their health and safety legal obligations, workers compensation laws, and bullying in the workplace.

For non-Aboriginal-run businesses, the support and information required centred on employing Aboriginal people and keeping them healthy and safe at work, particularly where a worker might be the only Aboriginal person in the workplace.


Working with Stephen Cochrane, Manager of Aboriginal Stakeholder Engagement and Aboriginal Programs for the Better Regulation Division of the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, the NSWALC took on the role of distributing SafeWork NSW information, guidance and a tailored program, the Psychologically safe workplace program, to businesses across the state.

The three steps

The program initially takes three steps but involves a SafeWork inspector building a solid, productive and ongoing relationship with a business and its workers.

  1. A SafeWork inspector attends the workplace and spends time getting to know the business and the workers.
  2. A day long workshop run by SafeWork facilitators with workers and the inspector collaborating on policy documents for the workplace that cover health and safety issues.
  3. Follow up by the SafeWork inspector and ongoing support.

The workshop

The workshop covers the following issues:

  • health and safety obligations
  • safety at work
  • health at work, including mental health
  • workplace stressors and effects on workers
  • workplace bullying
  • violence
  • lateral violence
  • how to write procedures and policies to ensure worker safety
  • resources available – SafeWork NSW, Fair Work Commission, Ochre.

The program is free to NSW businesses. All it requires is your time and commitment.


You and your business can participate in the program simply by contacting either Stephen or Andrew Rowe, Principal Inspector, Psychosocial Services with SafeWork NSW.

Andrew Rowe

Stephen Cochrane J.P.

Principal Inspector

Psychosocial Services

SafeWork NSW

Level 1, 300 Macquarie Street, Liverpool, NSW 2710

Phone: 9618 8558

Mobile: 0467 730 84

Email: andrew.rowe@safework.nsw.gov.au

Manager Aboriginal Stakeholder Engagement and Aboriginal Programs

Better Regulation Division

Department of Finance, Service and Innovation

92-100 Donnison St, Gosford NSW 2256

Phone:  02 4321 5708

Mobile: 0418 537 316

Email: Stephen.Cochrane@finance.nsw.gov.au

The program is free to NSW businesses. All it requires is your time and commitment.


If you need help or support right now call:

  • the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Men’s Line Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Domestic violence line on 1300 659 467.
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