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Most of us are aware that our employers are responsible for minimising and eliminating risks to our health and safety at work.

But did you know that this includes risks to our mental health? These are known as psychosocial risks and include things like: 

  • Poor support 
  • Job demands 
  • Lack of role clarity 
  • Remote or isolated work 
  • Violence and aggression 
  • Bullying 
  • Harassment 
  • Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interaction 

These hazards can create stress, which can, in turn, cause both psychological and physical harm including anxiety and depression.  

What can you do if the nature of your work is having a negative impact on your mental health?

How you address the issue may vary depending on the nature of your workplace and the psychosocial hazard you’re dealing with.  

Whatever the issue we recommend keeping records of your experiences. You can write notes on your phone, or in a notebook, whatever you prefer. Include details like what happened, the time and date, the impact it had on you, and anyone who may have witnessed the incident. 

If there’s an elected Health and Safety Representative (HSR) at your workplace, they’re a good person to talk to first. Your HSR can then talk to other colleagues to determine how many workers are affected and can suggest changes to reduce or eliminate the problem.  

If there isn’t an HSR at your workplace, then we recommend talking to your colleagues about the problem. You may discover that you’re not the only person who’s having trouble with work. Especially if the issue is related to unrealistic workloads, poor physical environment, lack of clarity of your role or other issues related to poor management and organisational structure. If this is the case, then with your colleagues you can come up with a possible solution and discuss it with your employer together. 

However, there are some psychosocial hazards, like bullying and harassment, that you might not be comfortable discussing with your workmates. If that’s the case, you can of course, call our Member Rights Team for advice and support.  

Why is this important?

Psychosocial hazards can be hard to spot, even when you’re experiencing them! However, problems at work that lead to mental ill-health can be just as dangerous as physical hazards.  

The Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Report published by Safe Work Australia in February 2024 says that during 2021-22: 

“Mental health conditions accounted for 9% of all serious workers’ compensation claims, a 36.9% increase since 2017-18. 

“The median time lost was more than 4 times greater than that of all physical injuries and illnesses (2020-21). 

“The median compensation paid for mental health conditions was more than 3 times greater than that of all physical injuries and illnesses.” 

So, not only is it in our best interests as workers and union members to ensure that our workplaces are both physically and psychologically safe for everyone, it’s in our employers’ best interest too.  

If you need support dealing with mental ill-health, please call lifeline on 13 11 14, or you can find more mental health support services here. 

Tell the Federal Government:
Educators deserve a pay rise now!

Early childhood educators continue to be among the lowest-paid professionals in Australia. Despite the skilled and demanding nature of their work, their compensation does not reflect their value.

UWU early education members like Bec are fed up, and that’s why UWU early education members are demanding the Federal Government urgently fund a 25% pay rise for the sector.

The Federal Government is putting together the next Federal Budget NOW, and through the Big Steps campaign thousands of UWU education members and supporters have brought the demand for a pay rise into the spotlight during this crucial time.

Add your name to the pay demand here and tell the Federal Government: it’s TIME FOR 25% for early childhood educators!

Can you join cleaners in their fight to end the failed privatisation of their work?

Cleaners are planning a major rally in Parramatta on Saturday 11 May at 12pm – full details and registration are available HERE – this is a key moment as a decision from Government could happen shortly.

7,000 cleaners across NSW work under whole-of-government contracts, cleaning our public schools, police and ambulance stations, TAFE campuses and other state government offices and properties. The use of outsourced, privatised contracts has resulted in low wages, cuts to hours and unsafe workloads.

School cleaners have to carry out more than 600 tasks a day – forcing them to rush from job to job – and 36 per cent report they have been injured at work.

Cleaners will not stop until they succeed in their campaign to bring cleaners back under direct NSW Government employment for fairer pay, secure jobs and a safe workplace.

If you’re not in NSW or can’t make it to the action, show your support by signing the petition here

uwu community: Meet Dave Clements

Industry/ job title: UWU member councillor and dairy industry machine operator

Length of membership? “I’ve been a member for 41 years because that’s how long I’ve worked here.”

What does being an UWU member mean to you? In the dairy industry, we’re fighting multinational companies who only care about their profits and their reputation. Being a union member means we’re in the fight together, you’d be hard pressed trying to fight them alone! Union membership has given me the confidence to fight back and know that other members have my back, and I’ve got theirs.

What advice would you give to newer members? My advice to new members is to back your delegates and the union’s call. If they’ve made a call on something, there’s a good reason behind it. We have to trust each other. Have your delegate’s back, we’ve got yours.”

Your favourite UWU moment, campaign or action? “It would have to be the 2023 dairy dispute. 1400 workers from thirteen dairy sites across Victoria, from four different processors were on strike all together, we couldn’t do anything but succeed!”   

What’s your message to other members? If you’re unsure of anything – wages, health and safety, conditions, anything – talk to your delegate or call the union, that’s what we’re there for. There’s no such thing as a stupid question. There’s plenty of shonky employers out there, so if something doesn’t seem right, check it out.” 

Bargaining kicks off for WA Public Sector workers!

Thousands of UWU members perform vital work in schools and hospitals throughout Western Australia. Now Union members have just kicked off Enterprise Bargaining for a new Agreement!

This Agreement means UWU members working as Education Assistants, Enrolled Nurses, Aboriginal Health Workers, Hospital Support Workers, and many more will come together to win a fair deal for everyone that Respects Our Roles. Bargaining representatives are particularly focused on a fair wage increase and job security for these vital roles.

Workers are always stronger together!

Dairy Committee members met with MPs!

Last month, Dairy Committee members had a meeting with the Victorian State Minister for Agriculture, Ros Spence, at Parliament House to discuss the future of the Dairy Industry.

Minister Spence has committed to ongoing regular discussions with the Dairy Committee in order to ensure that UWU members’ voices are heard and leading the decision making processes.

Big businesses and industrial farms have always been at the table, but now dairy workers have an opportunity for our voices and the needs of our communities to be heard.