Speaker Spotlight: Dr Steven Hill19 August 2020
In our latest speaker spotlight, we sat down with Dr Steven Hill to discuss his presentation at Minesafe 2020 and touch on the new mental health strategy being finalised at Geoscience Australia.
Q. What message would you like to highlight to those attending the Minesafe Conference? What do you hope will be the main take away from your presentation?
A. Things that I will cover will be especially from a Commonwealth Government perspective, including how we work with States / Territories, much of which translates towards an aspiration towards best practice. This will include topics around: the new normal and new opportunity; fieldwork and land access considerations; what it might mean for networking and promoting science and information (“travel less but connect more”); some first-hand examples from government, such as how we have progressed at GA; and perhaps thinking about what will be missing and challenges (e.g. decision confidence with less fieldwork; worker mental health with greater workplace community isolation; how to work outside of the structured “line management box” and integrate widely in the new normal).
Q. Our global community has been significantly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you think has been the main impact of COVID-19 in the resources sector with regards to Health and Safety? Has the pandemic shifted innovations and developments in a different way?
A. Travel and fieldwork have been major areas of impact.
Q. As the mining industry continues to expand and life after the pandemic pushes for more activity to boost the economy, what can we implement now to guarantee a risk-free operation for the expected accelerated work rate?
A. We need to develop an engaging vision of what a better future looks like and how an adaptive and progressive resources industry is a key part of that.
Q. 2020 has been an unpredictable year for Australia and the global mining sector. What do you think Australia should focus on to protect the mining workforce as best as possible? Is this something that can be collectively agreed upon?
A. Best practice and ethical industry. This contributes to open and trusted industry, which should become a key pillar for our workplaces and operates at all scales from global to individuals.
Q. Mental health is a huge issue within all industries and significantly in the resources sector. What strategies are in place to ensure a healthy workplace culture that supports all employees? Has the pandemic outbreak also accelerated mental health issues within the sector?
A. At Geoscience Australia we have seen an increase in mental health issues, we are currently finalising a new mental health strategy that focuses on 3 key areas: 1. Promotion and awareness; 2. Prevention of harm; and, 3. Recovery.
Q. As the sector continues to change at a rapid rate, what insights do you have for young professionals interested in learning more about health and safety within the sector or for those working for the first time in challenging environments?
A. Find value in bringing your best person to the work place and being a part of the culture that is needed across the industry!