Commonwealth Superannuation Corp, the Federal Government’s $50 billion fund which accounts for 11 sub-funds and a total of 730,000 members, has become a ‘partner’ with the industry’s major mental health body, SuperFriend. There is no better time than now for the industry to support mental health initiatives.
The big fund became the 24th super fund, on August 12, in association with its group insurer AIA Australia, to support SuperFriend. The mental health organisation is also financially backed by the other major group insurers. Mental health is a big problem for super funds, insurers and employers. Professor Ian Hickey, a well-known psychiatrist and the head of Sydney University’s ‘Brain and Mind Centre’, predicted recently that suicides would increase by about 20 per cent over the next five years because of COVID-related issues.
Damian Hill was the long-time chair of SuperFriend, supporting Margo Lydon, the long-time chief executive, when he ran REST Super, another $50 billion-plus fund, until January 2018. He resigned from SuperFriend in favour of David Atkin after leaving REST. Atkin was then the chief executive of Cbus, who has subsequently resigned from that fund to consider alternative career options, but remains SuperFriend’s chair, at least for the time being. It sounds like musical chairs at the top but SuperFriend grew exponentially under Hill’s and Margo Lydon’s stewardship, followed by David Atkin’s involvement. It is unknown whether Hill will put his hand up again for the SuperFriend chairmanship. It’s an honorary position involving a lot of work, after all.
Hill said in a prepared statement: “Our vision is to build, support and protect better retirement outcomes for our customers and their families. An important part of that is investing in mentally healthy workplaces so that our customers’ wellbeing is supported throughout their working lives. As well as being financially secure, we want our customers to retire healthy and happy… SuperFriend’s training and resources help reduce the stigma associated with mental health, equipping people with important skills to thrive at work. Our partnership also supports their nation-wide research into factors that improve and protect worker mental health, and advocacy for inclusive and fair treatment for people with mental health challenges.”
SuperFriend’s Margo Lydon said: “Our 2019 Indicators of a ‘Thriving Workplace’ research revealed that public administration workers experience higher levels of stress, work-related insomnia, bullying and mental health-related stigma compared to workers in other industries. We’re absolutely thrilled that CSC has committed to improving outcomes for these workers and their families.”
Damien Mu, the managing director of AIA Australia and New Zealand, and a big supporter of SuperFriend already, said: “AIA Australia is pleased to be making a difference in people’s lives by supporting CSC customers when they need it most, while also seeking continuous improvement in customer experience. We’re a long-term partner of both CSC and SuperFriend, and we all have a big part to play in equipping people with the tools and skills they need to be well and stay well, in addition to supporting them through illness and recovery.”