Advocacy

Partnership benefits overview – Advocacy

  • Enhance industry-wide progress in mental health and suicide prevention projects through collaboration initiatives facilitated by SuperFriend, such as:

    • Contribution to future Government and regulatory submissions about mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention to influence sustainable industry policy and practice
    • Establishment of a Reinsurance & Actuarial Mental Health Action Group to focus on data, trends and other industry initiatives
    • Participation in SuperFriend’s Insurance Mental Health Collective to prioritise and action life insurance industry initiatives
  • Demonstrate leadership and client stewardship by hosting clients at collaboration events with Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration, LeadingWell Queensland and other strategic thought leadership events

  • Opportunity to represent the Reinsurance sector by joining SuperFriend’s Expert Advisory Committee (two positions on this committee have been reserved for Reinsurance Partners)

  • Remain up to date with relevant policy and systems change intel provided by SuperFriend through its participation in National Alliances and other mental health and suicide prevention focused collaborations

  • Opportunity to influence the National Workplace Initiative through participation in various working groups as the initiative is being designed and developed

  • Expand your networks of mental health and suicide prevention sector experts, researchers, practitioners and peak bodies through SuperFriend’s extensive relationships across these sectors

A decade of collaborative advocacy

Through our unique position as a partner to over 30 life insurers and industry super funds, providing potential reach to over 750,000 employers nationally, SuperFriend proudly represents this industry on a number of strategic alliances and forums aimed at driving practical systems-change in mental health. Some of these alliances are within the financial services industry, whilst others are outside the industry and the traditional forums where super funds and life insurers are usually visible. One common thread is that we are all about advocating for positive change that will make a real difference in mental health and suicide prevention.

As a national leading workplace mental health organisation we have established strong and positive relationships with key mental health and suicide prevention organisations both in Australia and internationally. We have also established and cultivated productive relationships with other highly influential stakeholders who are aligned to our vision and purpose. These relationships continue to add value to our Partners, their staff and members, as we remain at the forefront of the Government’s mental health policy and agendas and the work being done around the country in workplace mental health and suicide prevention.

“SuperFriend is a highly influential organisation at the forefront of workplace mental health in Australia. In my role, I work closely with Margo and the SuperFriend team on several cross-sectoral and industry alliances and forums. With SuperFriend’s extensive knowledge of workplace mental health and wellbeing and financial services, they bring different perspectives and insights to the discussion. SuperFriend is a strong advocate for positive change in creating mentally healthy workplaces for all workers. They understand the nuances of different industries and the opportunities for the financial services sector to play a pivotal role in improving Australia’s mental health and saving lives from suicide. The quality and impact of their work, as well as their advocacy for their Partners, is impressive.”

Lucy Brogden – Chair, Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance

“SuperFriend is a very unique organisation and is well placed to be a disrupter in terms of how we think and understand the areas concerning mental health. In Australia we have this unique commercial opportunity because of the relationship between insurance and superannuation. SuperFriend is a good policy body, it’s a good lobby body, it’s a good educator. It ensures that the mental health agenda remains on our agenda…it’s important that it helps demystify and remove the stigma around all aspects of mental health.”

Colin Tate – CEO, Conexus Financial

Financial Services Industry advocacy

For us, the most relevant change agendas include innovation in early intervention and prevention, continual improvement in claims management practices, effective mental health training and capability development, data and policy insights, and facilitating industry collaborations that lead to practical systems change. Some of industry advocacy work we’re involved in includes:

  • Being a member of the Financial Services Council’s Mental Health Roundtable
  • Regularly contributing to Conexus Financial and AIA’s Roundtables on Mental Health and other co-media opportunities
  • Supporting individual Partner Insurers with developing and implementing their own internal mental wellbeing strategies for improved culture, leadership and capability development
  • Actively participating in the mental health action groups internally within Partner Insurers to ‘challenge’ existing practices and contribute to solutions that deliver better member and staff outcomes
  • Regularly presenting at a wide range of financial services industry events and forums

Cross-sector Collaborations, Industry Alliances, and the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention sector forums

Actively representing our Partners (and their members and employers) on a range of strategic alliances enables us to contribute to policy debates and direction, showcase effective practices to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of workplace mental health, and advocate for system-wide change in mental health that benefits Australian workers and workplaces.

SuperFriend represents our Partners on a number of highly influential and strategic collaborations. These include:

Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance

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Established by the National Mental Health Commission in 2013, the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance members share a commitment to leading change to promote and create mentally healthy workplaces.

Members of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance are the Chief Executives of 15 national organisations.

The National Workplace Initiative project aims to create a national approach for mentally healthy workplaces across the range of small, medium and large businesses. This four-year, $11.5 million national project is funded by the Department of Health, run by the National Mental Health Commission and guided by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. Drawing on the exceptional work that already exists, the National Workplace Initiative will be a digital portal that will engage Australian businesses in a highly personalised journey to guide them through creating and maintaining mentally healthy workplaces. Unlike other existing portals, this experience will be tailored and responsive, linking businesses with information, insights, resources, events and services matched to their needs, size, industry, location and outcomes from benchmarking tools.

SuperFriend’s CEO, Margo Lydon represents the organisation and its Partners on the Alliance, and is a highly influential contributor steering the development of the National Workplace Initiative. She is also the Chair of the Stakeholder and Communications Working Group. Being so closely involved ensures that SuperFriend’s Partners and their members are well represented. As the project develops, there will be opportunities for SuperFriend’s Partners to be actively and directly involved in this national, co-design project.

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Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration

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VicHealth, SuperFriend and WorkSafe Victoria have been collaborating for over six years to promote positive mental wellbeing in Victorian workplaces. The Collaboration work together to help business leaders and workplaces create positive and supportive work cultures and environments by focusing on organisational leadership and encouraging the implementation of positive mental wellbeing strategies that enhance existing policies and processes. This Collaboration showcases the latest research in positive leadership and mental wellbeing, case stories of businesses who are implementing positive mental wellbeing strategies, and undertakes projects to progress the knowledge translation and evidence of the positive science of leadership and workplace practices. As a key feature of this collaboration is the regular leadership breakfast events and Masterclasses, where hundreds of leaders from a range of industries, including our Partners and their clients, attend thought leadership and educational events.

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LeadingWell Queensland

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The Queensland Government, SuperFriend and WorkCover Queensland formed LeadingWell Queensland in 2017 to support Queensland workplaces to build and maintain mentally healthy, thriving workplaces. The Collaboration works together to create positive and supportive work cultures and environments, by focusing on strategic leadership events, access to practical tools and resources, and sharing best practice information and benchmarks. A benefit of this Collaboration is the opportunity for our Partners to invite their clients to join with hundreds of other business leaders at industry-leading educational leadership events and masterclasses, which are held all across the state.

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Suicide Prevention Australia

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With over 3000 lives sadly lost to suicide every year in Australia, SuperFriend has been an active member of Suicide Prevention Australia since 2007, representing our Partners and transferring the latest knowledge between these two sectors.

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Life Insurance Industry Productivity Commission response

Recently, SuperFriend coordinated and facilitated the Life Insurance Industry’s collaborative response to the Productivity Commissions’ draft report into the Inquiry into the Social and Economic Benefits for Improving Mental Health.

Our advocacy resulted in industry leaders, representing the following organisations, contributing to the drafting of a united submission: AIA Australia (which includes CommInsure Life), Financial Services Council (FSC), Hannover Re, MetLife, MLC Life Insurance, OnePath and Zurich, SuperFriend – Industry Funds’ Mental Health Initiative (SuperFriend), and TAL.

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The joint submission demonstrates SuperFriend’s ability to galvanise a collaborative industry consensus on mental health and position a response, including recommendations, to influence the Australian Government through this inquiry. Furthermore, SuperFriend also facilitated several industry meetings with Commissioner Dr Stephen King to amplify advocacy for the industry.

The submission and meetings highlighted the industry’s willingness, capacity and capability to be a valuable collaborator and stakeholder in achieving system reform. We reiterated that Life insurance, and the broader financial services industry, has a critically important role to play, which is different to Government(s) and other support agencies, in enabling improved mental health and wellbeing outcomes for all Australians. Through the provision of group life insurance, the industry enables a range of preventative strategies for workplaces and members – including mental health, financial health, wellbeing in retirement, rehabilitation and return to work.

Interestingly, the role of superannuation and life insurance had been an omission in the Productivity Commission’s initial Issues Paper (January 2019) and understated in their draft report (October 2019). Therefore, in the January 2020 industry submission we noted:

  • Collectively, the life insurance organisations represented held 77 per cent of all in-force life insurance premiums for Australians.
  • After Government, the life insurance industry is the largest financial (and other supports) contributor for people with a mental illness, paying over $700m in mental illness related claims in 2018 (versus $543m by workers compensation). Mental illness-related claims (primary cause of claim) is the second most common cause of claim overall; being the most common cause for Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) claims and third most common cause for Income Protection (IP).

Furthermore, the industry now collects detailed up-to-date data on mental illness which, when compared or augmented with other large population-based data sources, could be immensely beneficial in identifying trends and addressing system reform for social and economic benefits.

Industry Recommendations – Summary:

  1. Inclusion of the life insurance industry’s substantive contribution and willingness to be part of the solution in improving the social and economic support of Australians with mental health conditions.
  2. Support for the life insurance industry to be able to fund Mental Healthcare – noting additional considerations. (PC draft recommendation 24.6).
  3. Government to fund the undertaking of a national population-based survey on mental health for data currency and to measure prevalence, diagnosis, service utilisation and outcomes. Government to also invest in the development of an open-source Australian Comprehensive Mental Health Condition Resource as a centralised, open-source resource covering symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options (both clinical and non-clinical) (PC draft recommendation 25.2).
  4. Support by the industry to expand awareness training of Mental Illness in Insurance Sector – FSC Standard 21 – with proposed modifications that were detailed (PC draft recommendation 20.2).
  5. The Government to undertake a comprehensive evaluation and review of Better Access, MBS-rebated psychological therapy.
  6. Biopsychosocial approaches being more widely promoted and recognised as valuable adjuncts or alternatives to clinical interventions.
  7. Government led, fostered or recognised Coordination / Collaboration of Cross-sector working groups, to drive system wide change.
  8. Invest more broadly in Mentally Healthy Workplaces and seed-fund the implementation support of the National Workplace Initiative (PC Chapter 19 recommendations).

Through our advocacy, SuperFriend provided the industry with an effective platform to agitate for system change and reform. With the industry, we called on the Productivity Commission to expand Government(s) understanding about the entirety of the ‘system’ and the opportunity for genuine system reform for sustainable social and economic impact, by considering and articulating the substantive value that non-government ‘actors’ play in creating social and economic gains for Australia through reform.

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TAKING ACTION: Best Practice Framework for the Management of Psychological Claims

The first of its kind, TAKING ACTION was created to provide the life insurance industry with a road map for better managing mental health related claims. Drawing on the latest evidence and best practice in claims management from around the world, including emerging good-practice, TAKING ACTION provides practical guidance for taking a systems-approach to improve outcomes for the person on claim, insurer, super fund, employer and the broader community. One of the critical success pillars is to ensure the person on claim is at the centre of all services and supports. This notion of person-centred case management, coupled with the need to up-skill staff across the industry has inspired further work by SuperFriend to help our Partners – such as Person-Centred Communications and the Insurance Industry White Paper.

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TAKING ACTION has since been translated into the workers compensation sector, with endorsement by Safe Work Australia, the Heads of Workers Compensation and adoption by scheme agents.

TAKING ACTION continues to be used by our Partners and held up as relevant and contemporary best practice by other leaders in the Life insurance industry. For example, the Actuaries institute Green Paper on Mental Health released in October 2017 and KPMG and FSC’s seminal research in 2019 on The Impact of Psychosocial Factors on Mental Health and their Implications in Life Insurance are just two examples.

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Insurance Mental Health Collective

In 2019, SuperFriend also launched a community of practice – Insurance Mental Health Collective. This is group comprises mental health professionals representing each of our life insurers which aims to meet regularly to discuss how the industry can achieve positive outcomes for members, identify opportunities to collaborate and review best practice guidelines in respect to the management of mental health claims. What was very evident in the first of these meetings was that, while intellectual property of each organisation was always respected, the members were willing to talk to initiatives that they’ve implemented in order to achieve an improved member experience to people on claim as well as the wider community.