Shining light on staff wellbeing

Shine's Melissa Hawkins and Chris McGrath at the Queensland Work Well Awards. Photo: Supplied

Shine Lawyers did exactly that at the Queensland 2023 Work Well Awards, winning Best Commitment to work health and wellbeing.

The awards, presented during October’s Safe Work Month, recognise dedication to work health and safety with more than 100 entries received across the state.

Shine’s A Healthier YOU program stood out for the judges. It delivers targeted programs underpinned by four pillars – A Healthier Body, A Healthier Mind, A Healthier Culture and A Healthier Place. 

Wellbeing and safety advisor Melissa Hawkins said these four pillars “drive a holistic approach to wellbeing for our people”.

“These four pillars work well for us to get people actively engaged. It is a simple framework and it is designed so that it is agile in nature. We ensure that our initiatives are developed with at least one of these pillars in mind in order to address our long-term strategy,” she said.

Chief Operating Officer Jodie Willey said: “Given Shine acts for many little guys injured in the workplace, it’s only fitting that we ensure our own workplace is a safe one for our people. 


“It makes us proud to see our efforts in promoting and improving the mental health and wellbeing of our people recognised at this level.”

Melissa agreed, saying it was an honour to be recognised for their efforts.

“We have been on this journey for five years and the program has grown and evolved over that time,” Melissa said.

“The award highlights the work the wellbeing and safety team have been doing over the last few years and assists us in being recognised further within the organisation, especially the leadership team, which in turn will hopefully have a bigger impact on the promotion of our initiatives throughout Shine and further improve participation.

“We are proud to be acknowledged for the determination to get it where it is and continue to drive the momentum of our program.”

In 2018, Shine Lawyers became “increasingly aware of effects of psychological and physical wellbeing issues arising from the nature of working in the legal industry”.


They researched and identified key areas including psychological injuries from the nature of the work, including emotionally triggering work and threatening clients, as well as the work’s sedentary nature and the risks involved in this. 

“This information led us to subsequently identify an opportunity to develop and implement a wellbeing program to support our people,” Melissa said.

“The objective of our program was to initially provide employees with tools to assist themselves and others in coping with mental health issues that may arise in or be impacting them in the workplace.

“The first two years of our wellbeing program had a focus on A Healthier Mind and A Healthier Body. We delivered key initiatives to build the foundation of wellbeing at Shine and since this time our program has gained momentum.

“In order to meet our long-term goal of embedding a culture of wellbeing and safety into Shine, we then directed our attention to A Healthier Culture and A Healthier Place to create a healthy, safe and supportive workplace environment.

“We create A Healthier Culture through leadership support with our senior leaders the driving force for reducing stigma and improving the culture. A Healthier Place ensures we all take responsibility for our physical environment and workplace safety.


“To combat the sedentary nature of working in an office environment, we developed desk stretch cards to encourage team members to take a break and stretch throughout the day.

“This is in conjunction with regular ergonomic assessments to reduce discomfort and prevent injuries. We have been running our annual step challenge, now known as Shine’s A Healthier YOU challenge for the past four years and this has evolved so it now includes a focus on both mental and physical wellbeing.”

Melissa said Shine had just rolled out its three-year strategy that focused on embedding the program further. This included forming a Health and Wellbeing Committee which is made of Wellbeing Champions, to gain feedback and understand people better. The mental health focus was progressed by creating a Peer Support Program, consisting of team members who have received Mental Health First Aid training.

Melissa said one of the main focuses during the last two years was vicarious trauma training.

“After re-mapping our risks in 2021, we developed our Responding to People Threatening Suicide, Self-harm and Violence Procedure,” she said.

“This procedure was rolled out to capture these specific incidents that occur with team members and clients and ensure that our people are being provided a step-by-step process around dealing with these interactions as well as avenues to debrief and gain further support post incident.


“These insights also called out the need to strengthen our Vicarious Trauma program in support of our people and the nature of the work they are involved in. Although the likelihood of risk is still there, the consequences have reduced and psychological risk is now medium instead of high based on the program we have implemented.”

And the results of all the wellbeing initiatives are showing inside the organisation as well as the external recognition.

“Over the last five years, wellbeing engagement scores and participation has increased and EAP utilisation has increased with a more proactive and preventative approach,” she said.

“Shine’s team members are reporting more incidents (a positive due to awareness and being proactive), culture and team morale have improved and there has been an increased level of consultation through our Wellbeing Champions. We have incorporated a wellbeing focus into the employee lifecycle and leaders are empowered to regularly check in with team members.”

Melissa has an exercise physiology background and has been working in corporate wellbeing and injury prevention for the past 10 years.

“Moving into safety as well was a no-brainer due to the integral link between wellbeing and safety, in particular psychological safety,” she said. “My passion still lies in health and improving an individual’s wellbeing by driving behaviour change.”


And Melissa’s passion for the wellbeing program was acknowledged by Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace, who presented the awards, along with Queensland Mental Health Ambassador Hayley Lewis, to the winners for “their extraordinary submissions”.

Minister Grace said: “Every worker deserves to return home to their family at the end of every shift and it’s great to showcase Queenslanders who have this at the heart of what they do.”

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