Shared Value – A Workforce Mental Health Initiative for Gippsland

Business, philanthropy, and community join forces to launch the Shared Value mental health initiative for a strong, healthy and prosperous future for Gippsland.

The Kindred Spirits Foundation, in partnership with the Gippsland Regional Executive Forum and the Committee for Gippsland, is embarking on this landmark regional initiative.

According to Rhonda Renwick OAM, Founder & Director of Kindred Spirits Enterprises, Shared Value is a means for businesses to build competitive advantage by addressing social problems; it acknowledges that the competitiveness of businesses is determined by the social and economic health of the communities where they operate.

“Mentally healthy workplaces nurture extraordinary professionals, and extraordinary professionals doing extraordinary work creates an extraordinary economy.”

“So, it all starts with our businesses investing in staff mental health because the professional capacity and relationships that result could be the tide that lifts our entire Gippsland economy.”

A 2019 Pricewaterhouse Coopers report highlighted that $13B is the direct financial cost of mental illness to Australian businesses, with 45% of Australian workers experiencing a mental illness of some form.

The average cost of mental illness to Gippsland’s businesses is as yet unclear but is likely higher than the Australian average due to higher rates of mental illness in our communities.

Jane Oakley, CEO of the initiative’s partner, the Committee for Gippsland, explained, “Businesses today play a key role in aligning operations to social purpose.”

“The Kindred Spirits Foundation will lead the Shared Value initiative by engaging with Gippsland businesses to understand the impact of mental health on our workforce and find innovative ways to improve community outcomes that support workforce competitiveness.”

The initiative will study investments in workforce mental health and measure the social and financial return on investment for businesses in Gippsland. The initiative will involve collaboration with local businesses, Latrobe Valley Bus Lines and Yallambee Traralgon Village for the Aged, each representing industries (transport and health care), that are core to the region’s business community.

The $26K financing for the initiative has been raised jointly by member business of the Gippsland Regional Executive Forum and contributions from the Committee for Gippsland and the Kindred Spirits Foundation.

John Mitchell, Chair of the Gippsland Regional Executive Forum, is a strong believer in Gippsland businesses supporting programs for a brighter future.

“The Gippsland Regional Executive Forum’s members understand that workforce mental health has a direct impact on productivity across Gippsland and consider this mental health pilot project as an investment in both our social and business enterprise capital.”

“We are pleased to join in financially supporting the Shared Value initiative and congratulate two of our member businesses, Latrobe Valley Bus Lines and Yallambee Traralgon Village for the Aged, for participating in this important project for Gippsland.”