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Musically Mindful of Employee Wellbeing


Originally posted on 16 Nov 2018 at
Reposted with permission from the author

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Music has the power to evoke a huge range of emotions - it lifts us up when we're sad, makes us feel peaceful, relaxed or inspired and it often evokes vivid memories to provide a soundtrack to our lives. For many it’s vital to our health and wellbeing.

So let’s not forget those who bring music to life - from musicians, to our behind the scenes staff, our West Australian Symphony Orchestra team is committed to bringing extraordinary music to the Western Australian community and their health and wellbeing is just as important to us as the performances they share with you.

WASO has a wide range of initiatives to support the physical and mental wellbeing of both our orchestra and administration staff, and we also reach out into the community in partnership with Healthway’s Act Belong Commit initiative to perform at Hospitals and Aged Care Centres. In 2015 we launched a Health & Wellness program, available to all employees. August of that year was flagged as Health & Wellness month with a focus on self-care during a period where traditionally we experience high levels of workplace activity, stress and illness.

Our Human Resources team collaborate with many organisations who support us to implement and evolve our program in new ways including Star Physio who assist our musicians with their physical wellbeing and provide ergonomic assessments to our administration staff.

On Friday November 16 both WASO and Perth Concert Hall employees wore their favourite Australian music t-shirts as part of Ausmusic T-shirt Day, a new initiative by Support Act who raise funds for artists and music workers experiencing financial hardship, ill health, injury or mental health issues. WASO is delighted to encourage and highlight the importance of a service such as the Wellness Helpline, which we see as especially important for our many gig workers (short term, casual employees) who may be unable to access the full range of support services and benefits offered to full-time employees.

The stresses of day to day life can affect us all, but for musicians, performance anxiety can be a debilitating condition. Deborah Hart, French horn player who performed with WASO in their recent Star Wars concert brought this issue out into the open on SBS’s Insight, where she discussed her struggle “The anxiety is multi-level, so in the moment it's things like a physical reaction, so sometimes it's shaking or a dry mouth and it's often thoughts of ‘I can’t do this’.”   

By supporting our employees and colleagues holistically WASO is creating a happy and healthy workplace.  

In 2016 a mental health policy was developed with a commitment to maintaining a minimum of 10 percent of employees across the business as Volunteer Mental Health First Aiders. By 2017, 18 employees were trained and expressions of interest are growing.

“We believe by raising the profile for mentally healthy workplaces and working to address mental ill health early on,  we are creating stability and support that is important for our company to succeed” – Narelle Coghill, Human Resources Coordinator – West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

Nutrition and diet have been identified as areas of focus for 2019 to build awareness around the connection between diet and mental/physical health. We aim to help our employees make informed choices as it can be easy to make poor choices when you are busy or stressed.

We are committed to keeping the conversation going within the workplace and highlighting the services available to our employees, and their friends and family.

If you would like to know more about Support Act, or if you’re a musician and would like to talk to someone about your wellbeing, check out their website.

Interested in finding out more? 

Support Act website
Perth Concert Hall - Ausmusic Playlist
WASO Sounds & Stories