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Diversity and inclusion for mentally healthy workplaces

Catherine Lee, Director and Founding partner of Lethbridge Piper and Associates, shares insights on how neurodivergent workers may experience risk at work differently from their neurotypical co-workers – and what you can do to ensure you are making workplaces safer, healthier, and more inclusive for neurodivergent workers.

Hello and thank you for joining us today. Before we begin the session, Katherine has shared with us a special song by artist Jay Grange called We Will Rise. Katherine will share more about this song in her presentation and the diversity movement gaining momentum. And we are pleased to play it for you now. Enjoy and we will see you soon. I hope you've got your dancing shoes on.


Carried labels all my life I learn to embrace everyday, sleepless nights. My mind's always racing, born to be different cause the same's overrated.
I can tell you how feeling, it's just hard to explain it. Imagine how you feel when your head's full of doubt. Misunderstood, but can never stand out. Courageous. You're strong, be proud. What's the point of fitting in if I was born to stand out? You know the cycles, so vicious, ADHD, creative, ambitious, clever, not manic or superstitious. Keep feeling

Prestigious. Jut love who you are and who you're supposed to be. We will rise up (the world can see our future's bright). We will rise up. We will rise up (the world can see our future's bright). We will achieve, yeah. We will rise up. We will rise up. We will achieve.

There will be better days We will rise up. We will achieve.

Scared to speak up. I hide all my feelings. Low purpose in my life.
I'm just staring at a ceiling voices in my head, on the daily I'm breathing.
Accepting yourself, is the processor healing? Full of energy? I'm feeling so drained.
Living lies every day, trying to keep a straight face. Sure I bear love to the ones that are brave.

We'll see better days.

Our voices will be heard, so hear the words we speak, cause who are you to judge? Who are you to judge me?

Challenged and gifted, stronger than you think. We're special, we're so unique.

We will rise up (the world can see our future's bright).
We will rise up.
We will rise up (the world can see our future's bright).
We will achieve, yeah.
We will rise up.

Everybody speak up, let's break up the silence (the world can see our future's bright).

Sometimes you trust but you ain't got no guidance.

Therapy is no longer vicious. ADHD enhances my vision.
Creative, driven, massive ambition equality. Let's end this division.

Everybody stand up and shine the light, so the world can see our future's bright.

We will rise up. We will rise up.

Everybody stand up and shine the light, so the world can see our future's bright.

We will rise up. We will rise up.

Hi everyone, I'm Nicole Hughes and I'll be your MC for today. Welcome to the last Mental Health Week live stream session for 2022. I'd like to begin by respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we are speaking to you from today and on which you are learning and working. We also pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people watching today. Each year Mental Health Week is held in October to raise awareness of the importance of psychologically safe workplaces and contributes to driving behavior and attitudinal change to reduce stigma and discrimination of mental illness. In today's session, you will hear from Catherine Lee, director and founding partner of Lethbridge Piper and Associates. Catherine has over 30 years experience as an occupational health and safety management professional and occupational nurse, both in Australia and the United Kingdom. She's dedicated to working with client organisations to achieve real and tangible improvements in their organisational culture and business performance through strategic occupational health and safety risk management. Today Catherine will share her insights on how neurodivergent workers may experience risk at work differently from their neurotypical coworkers and what you can do to ensure you are making workplaces safer, healthier, and more inclusive for neurodivergent workers. There will also be the opportunity to ask Catherine questions at the end of her presentation, so be sure to submit them in the chat box. Welcome Catherine.

Thanks Nicole, good to see you and welcome everyone. I'm so excited to have been invited by Work Safe Queensland to, um, make this contribution to this important Mental Health Week campaign. It's great to be here. So let's begin.

Look at this picture. What do you see? A busker playing the violin in the subway next to a rubbish bin. He's probably got a violin case open at his feet with a few coins of seed money and a sign asking for donations. Maybe he's a student, maybe he's homeless. Maybe if you were there, you'd throw some loose change into the case and keep walking. In fact, this is Joshua Bell, the internationally acclaimed Grammy award-winning virtuso violinist and the violin he's playing? Well, that's a handcrafted Stradivarius made in 1713 by Antonio Stradivarius himself. Joshua paid $3.5 million for it in 2001. It's now worth more than $14 million. This now famous experiment set up by Bell and the Washington Post at Long Font Plaza in Washington DC in 2007, earned bell about $60 for playing six pieces from his classical repertoire. More than a thousand commuters transited the plaza during the performance, but only 11 stopped to listen and seven dropped some coins into the case.

Three days earlier, Bell performed from the same classical repertoire on the same instrument to an audience of more than two and a half thousand people at the sold out Boston Symphony Hall, where tickets sold for more than a hundred dollars each, the same performer, the same instrument, the same repertoire. So why did one performance bring in more than quarter of a million dollars and the other just 60? What was different? I want you to hold that thought for now and we'll come back to Joshua Bell's story later. So looking at the information you provided when you registered for this session, you're tuning in today because you want to learn something about newer diversity and particularly why it matters in employment. You're certainly gonna get that. I'll be covering the mental and how the mental and physical health of workers can be impacted if employers don't have a good understanding of the strengths and challenges of neurodiversity. Um, we've provided some additional information in the handout and you can
refer to that later. And of course there'll be some time at the end for questions Above all, I want you to leave this session with a new perspective on normal and to see your community through a different lens.

What surprised me when I first, um, started working with neurodiversity, um, was that pretty much and started telling people, um, what I was doing. Pretty much everyone said something like, "Oh, my son's autistic or my brother has ADHD." Um, it had never really been on my radar before, um, either personally or professionally.

But when I was asked to provide some advice to an employer about a worker who had had a fall at work that turned out to be directly related to his ADHD, I went looking for health and safety information about workers with ADHD and I couldn't find any. I started looking at the research about how, um, neurodiversity affects people at work and their safety in particular, particularly, and I couldn't find any. It also led me to my own diagnosis and into a worldwide community of brilliant, neurodivergent people. After I'd recovered from the initial shock of this, I realised that I needed to look at my work in workplace health and safety differently. So what is neurodiversity? Neurodiversity comes from two words, neuro, which means the neuro, the neurosis nervous system, and diversity, which means variety or difference. Quite simply, neurodiversity is the concept that there's a natural variation in the human brain that leads to differences in how all humans think and behave.

The term neurodiverse was originally conceived in the 1990s by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, who is herself autistic. She wanted to change the disabling language used to describe autism, which comes from the medical model of disability, and argued that neurological differences such as autism are neither normal nor abnormal. They're just different. This concept is at the heart of the social model of disability that was emerging at that time. Now, we are by nature a diverse species. We have diversity of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. So two, there is diversity in neurological functioning. No two people have the same bodies and no two people have the same brains in. Thank goodness for that.

Now, you're going to hear me use the terms neurotypical and neuro divergent today, but before I explain these, it's important to understand that the language of neurodiversity is still developing and others may use these, the terms neurodiverse and neuro divergent interchangeably. So keep that in mind when you read around this subject. So if the term neurodiverse is the umbrella term that refers to all of us, neurotypical means the most common type of neurological functioning. And neurodivergent is used to describe people whose neurological functioning diverges to varying degrees and in different ways from the typical some thought leaders have argued that neurodiversity is a subset of biodiversity and that it is as essential to the survival of humanity as biodiversity is to the ecosystem. And there's also an evolutionary hypothesis, which I kind of like that suggests that humans have evolved over time and developed specialist or neurodivergent thinking skills to balance the generalist neurotypical thinking
skills and that both are necessary for our strength as a species.

Now it's impossible to get accurate data about the proportion of the global population that has the specialist neuro divergent thinking skills because every country has different ways of assessing and recording neurological functioning. And most people never go through any sort of screening process. A prominent neurodiversity researcher in the uk Nazi oil suggests that given the extent of overlap between the conditions, the under diagnosis of females who are often misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression, or eating disorders, and the estimated prevalence of each condition, a reasonable estimate of all neuro minorities is within the population is around 15 to 20%. That's a significant minority. That's roughly one in five people who are neuro divergent and have one or more specialist thinking skill. And 65% of these are of working age neuro divergent brains are structured and function differently from neurotypical brains. They've developed to think, learn, communicate, process information, regulate attention and emotion, perceive and respond to risk and experience the world around them differently from neurotypical brains.

The most common neuro divergent profiles, which you've probably all heard of, are autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. But there are others such as dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, tic syndrome, which includes Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. And we've provided some information in the handout, um, for these about these. So, um, a you can find out more on the neurodiverse safe work website, but even within these profiles there are differences. Remember, no two brains are the same. And there's a saying that if you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person. It's more common than not for a person to have more than one type of neuro divergence. So an autistic person may also have ADHD and dyslexia in their profile, or a person with ADHD may also have dyscalculia like me or any other combination of these profiles. These are not static states.

A person's experience can change over time, and this is relevant for employers and workers' compensation insurers to understand because it is possible for, for a person's neuro divergence to deteriorate because of their work. Now I'm gonna come back to this a bit later on. These differences are hardwired into the brain and in most cases they're genetic and they're lifelong. No amount of being told to just try harder or masking our differences to conform with a neurotypical world will make a neuro divergent brain work in a neurotypical way. Firm discipline doesn't fix what isn't broken neuro divergence when unmanaged can have a significant impact on a person's health. If we look at just ADHD for, for a minute, for an as an example, about 90% of those diagnosed in childhood will continue to experience this experience challenges into adulthood, but any support or adjustments they receive during their education and formative years will generally be absent from the workplace.

In 2018, a large international study found that whilst the prevalence of ADHD in the adult population in the 14 countries studied was between 2.3 and 5% in Australia, only 0.2% are being diagnosed, which means that only one in 10 adults with ADHD in Australia are recognized and treated. Although this number is improving as awareness increases. The international consensus statement of the World Federation of ADHD, which was published last year, provided a meta-analysis of an extensive body of research. And from this produced 208 evidence based conclusions about ADHD. These conclusions demonstrate that the health and socioeconomic impacts of undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD are profound. They include increased risks of heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer, obesity, and substance abuse disorder. People with unmanaged ADHD also have higher rates of incarceration and recidivism, higher unemployment, unstable employment and lower earning capacity and higher incidents of psychological injury, illness and suicide.

There's also research that found that WI found women with undiagnosed ADHD have a higher incidence of intimate partner violence and something that should concern every employer and worker's compensation insurer is that people with unmanaged ADHD are at increased risk of accidental injury including motor vehicle accident and pedestrian accidents and increased risk taking behavior. In fact, the combined effect of all of these increased risk factors is that adults with unmanaged ADHD have a life expectancy 13 years shorter than those without. So it's a significant public health issue and the current calls to have ADHD included as a disability under the NDIS for those that need it are warranted and long overdue. But this is only ADHD. This does not include the other neuro divergent profiles that may coexist or overlap with ADHD or stand alone. So how does all this play out in work?

Unless you have some personal experience, um, you may base your idea of what neuro divergence looks like on the stereotypes portrayed in the popular media. So you may think about the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man and imagine that all autistic people have those characteristics. Or you may think that everyone with ADHD is like Bart Simpson, and if there's no one that behaves like Rainman or Bart Simpson where you work, well then you might think you don't need to worry about neurodiversity inclusion. But if 15 to 20% of the population is neuro divergent and 65% of those who of working age, that's roughly one in eight people, it's likely that there are people in your workplace who are neuro divergent and you already have a neurodiverse workforce. You might assume that if a worker has ADHD, they'll tell someone and that HR will arrange to fix them up with a pair of noise canceling headphones because that's what the last ADHD worker needed.

But most neurodivergent people have never been formally diagnosed or they've been misdiagnosed with a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. They spend their whole lives feeling different, knowing they struggle with things that are simple for others and they don't know why they bring all this with them to the workplace. And those who are diagnosed most do not tell their employer or colleagues. The greatest barrier to neuro divergent work is being able to work safely and productively is not their neuro divergence. It's stigma, misinformation, rigid systems and processes, a lack of awareness and decisions made based on flawed assumptions that create the barriers. Neurodivergent people deal with these barriers daily and this contributes to one of the greatest negative impacts, which is on their mental health. The incidence of comorbid mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and major depressive disorder is 50% in the neuro divergent population as opposed to 25% in the neurotypical population.

So let me introduce our case study, um, today to, to start applying some of these concepts to practice. I'd like you to meet Nolene. Nolene is a 47 year old full-time senior payroll officer with a private healthcare provider. She's been in the role for 14 years, but she's been off work on sick leave for seven weeks with a mental health condition and she's refusing to communicate with her employer. The employer asked for my help because they were worried about her, but they also needed to resolve the issues that caused her to go off work. The HR manager told me that Nolene had worked well in the role for many years, but she'd always been a little bit odd. She's pedantic and a stickler for the rules. She's got an encyclopedic knowledge of their complex industrial awards. She's the go-to person for the most challenging inquiries or disputes about pay and leave entitlements and penalty rates and can resolve them much quicker and more accurately than anyone else in the team.

When a new worker joined the team, she was allocated to Nolene's team to work. After a few weeks, Jane was heard grumbling to others that she was feeling bullied and that Nolene was rude because she didn't chat socially or say good morning, and she was micromanaging and nitpicking her work. It all came to a head when Jane and Nolene had a heated and very public argument. Nolene became so distraught that she was unable to speak. She was crying, shaking, and hyperventilating. She was taken home from work and when she returned the next day, she wouldn't speak to Jane. So Jane lodged a formal bullying complaint against her. Nolene was asked to attend a meeting with HR and the payroll manager and was given a letter notifying her about the complaint and that there would be an investigation. She left work after that meeting and she hasn't returned.

She's been providing general medical certificates that state she has a medical condition and has written to HR asking them not to contact her. At this point, she's not lodged a worker's compensation claim. So what might the employer's standard response be in a situation like this where there's an unresolved complaint, um, of bullying against a worker and then the worker has subsequently, um, taken sick leave? Well, the employer might write to the worker and advise them of the investigation that the investigation will be paused and then resume when they're cleared to return to work. The worker referred to the return to work coordinator who writes to tell them about worker's compensation and with the return to work policy and eventually the worker runs out of sick leave and applies to use annual and long service leave. And when all paid leave entitlements have been exhausted, the employer writes to ask their worker their intentions.

If they don't receive a reply, they commence termination on the grounds of ill health or abandonment of employment. So I'm gonna leave Nolene there for now and we'll come back, um, a little bit later to look at how we handled her situation a little bit differently. But first I want to talk about how some of the legislation applies here. So stick with me, try and stay awake. It won't be too painful. A question I'm often asked is whether neuro divergency is a disability. The Disability Discrimination Act, we'll call it the DDA defines disability in broad terms and includes physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory, neurological, and learning disabilities. And so neurodivergence can fall within this broad definition, but many high profile and successful entrepreneurs scientists, athletes and artists credit their success to their neuro divergence. And even though it may have negatively impacted them at some stage, they often don't consider themselves to be disabled For others.

The severity and complexity of their neuro divergency is so profound that it creates significant challenges across all areas of their lives and they need a great deal of support. The DDA makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of a disability. And in the employment context, it protects people from disabilities, um, from discrimination at recruitment, the terms and conditions of employment, training, promotion, and from being dismissed because of their disability. It also requires that employers make reasonable adjustments for workers with disabilities, but this assumes that the worker considers their neuro divergence to be a disability and they may not. It assumes that the worker knows their neuro divergent and they may not. And it assumes that the worker has disclosed their neurodivergence to their employer and they usually don't. There is an argument that neurodivergence requires its own classification as a discrete minority group and the anti-discrimination legislation, regardless of
whether the individual considers themselves to be disabled, the Anti-Discrimination Act aims to protect people from unfair discrimination, sexual harassment, and other objectionable con conduct, and provides a means to bring a complaint and habit resolved under the ADA.

It's illegal to discriminate against someone based on certain characteristics including sex, age, race, gender, identity or sexuality, relationship status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, and parental status. So to illustrate my point here some, but, but not all members of the LGBTQIA+ community may also have a disability. They're protected under the ADA because of their gender identity or sexuality. And under the DDA from discrimination because of this disability applying this same principle to neurodivergence, then if a person identifies as neurodivergent regardless of medical diagnosis, which may not have been accessible to them at the time, they would be afforded protection under the ada. If that person is also disabled, they would be protected from discrimination because of that disability. Under the dda, the disablement is different from their identity as a newer divergent person. Now, there are many dedicated advocacy groups that provide excellent resources for neuro minorities and their employers.

Usually these assume that the work is being carried out in a relatively low risk office environment and puts the focus on what can be done to make the worker more productive. But what if the worker is a construction worker or a minor or a solar panel installer or a production worker in a chemical or pharmaceutical company? The fact is that neurodivergent workers do not just work in low risk office environments. They can and do work across occupations and industries and are therefore exposed to all the same hazards as neurotypical workers. But how we think, feel, learn, communicate, regulate attention and emotion, perceive and respond to risk and experience. The physical environment is different from neurotypical workers. So if during the design of an organisation's health and safety management system, there's been an assumption that all workers think and behave in roughly the same way, then there will be elements of that system that are not going to be effective in eliminating or reducing risk, and may in fact increase risk for a substantial minority of the workforce.

Whilst there are many duty holders under the Work Health and Safety Act, including workers themselves, it is the person conducting the business or undertaking, let's call them the employer that holds the primary duty of care to ensure so far as reasonably practical the health and safety of workers. And this duty cannot be delegated to another person, unlike the dda, which is designed to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. The Work Health and Safety Act protects all workers, including those who think and function differently, whether they've been diagnosed or not, and whether they consider themselves to be disabled or not. There's nothing in any of the legislation codes, codes of practice or standards that prevents an employer from taking reasonably reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of neuro divergent workers. For example, consulting with workers is a cornerstone of the work health and safety legislation legislative framework in Australia.

So let's assume, let's use an example to illustrate why it's important to consult with a neurodiverse group of workers. Let's imagine the employer has decided to change the roster so that workers now start earlier and finish later Monday to Thursday and then work a half day on Friday. Most workers are pretty happy about this because they get to finish work earlier on Fridays. But neurodivergent workers who often experience sleep disorders may be adversely impacted and struggle with the earlier stopped times and longer shifts. And this will increase the fatigue related the risk of fatigue related injuries to those workers. The risk management code of practices encourage employers to consider whether the differences between individuals in the workplace make it more likely that harm will occur. So let's use another example here. Imagine that an employer has determined based on a risk assessment that an additional control is needed to protect workers from an ODS fume that causes eye, skin and respiratory tract

During the production of a, um, of a chemical, the employer implements the, um, respiratory protection program that includes the use of a full face mask during that critical two hour step in the the production process. All workers are trained and they've all undergone fit testing and all have demonstrated competency. But an autistic worker who has sensory processing differences may not be able to tolerate the physical sensation or the smell of the mask. They can tolerate it long enough to demonstrate competency, but they'll become highly distressed and agitated if they wear it for the full two hours. So what will happen for that worker if they've not disclosed this ch this challenge to their employer? Now I understand by this point you've probably thrown your hands in the air and you're thinking this is all too hard. This is one of the reasons why employers are reluctant to employ workers with disabilities.

There is a perception that it's too hard or too costly to adjust the work and that people for, and that people who for, for people who think and function differently to be able to work safely, but adjustments do not need to be difficult or expensive. A rising tide lifts all boats. Small, simple, inexpensive adjustments can make an enormous difference and benefit all workers. So for our autistic worker who was non-compliant with the use of respiratory protection, once we understood what was happening for him, all we needed to do was implement an administrative control. He was permanently allocated to a different shift on the day that product was being made. He was no longer exposed to the fume risk or the psychological risk of the distress of wearing a full face mask. And his coworkers and supervisors were happy because they didn't have to keep checking up on him.

Simple, inexpensive, and safe. Now, I mentioned earlier that neuro divergent conditions are not static and a person's experience and symptoms and functioning can deteriorate if occupational hazards as experienced by the worker are not adequately controlled. So if a person's ADHD or autism, for example, deteriorates because of their work and they're then unable to work, would this be something that a worker could claim Worker's compensation for? Both statutory and common law claims are determined on a case by case basis, depending on the facts, then there's only been one statutory claim in Queensland that has gone through the appeals, um, process and is on the public record. The case of TRT versus the Workers' Compensation Regulator was denied by WorkCover Queensland and that decision was confirmed by the Regulator and the Industrial Relations Commission. But the commissioner accepted that the appellant sustained a personal psychological injury in the form of an exacerbation of his autism, which arose out of
or in the course of employment. The decision to deny the claim was on the basis that the work was not the major significant contributing factor and, and or the injury was excluded due to reasonable management action. In different circumstances, it's entirely possible that a statutory claim would be accepted. And I think as incre as awareness increases, we'll see more claims of this nature.

So if during the design of the organisation's health and safety management system, uh, there's been an assumption that all workers think and behave in roughly the same way, there will be elements of that system that are not gonna be effective in eliminating or reducing risk, and may in fact increase risk for a substantial minority of the work workforce. If workers do not, if neuro divergent workers do not see that, um, the employer has an open and inclusive, um, practice and culture in relation to neuro divergence, they, they won't disclose.

Um, if they perceive that there will be a a, there's a risk of discrimination and judgment so they don't disclose. But non-disclosure means that the employer cannot manage the occupational health and safety risks. It's a big ask to expect the neuro divergent worker to take on all that risk to disclose or not disclose when it's the employer that owns the primary duty of care. So if they don't disclose, they use all of the productivity tips and tools that they know and they do their best, but if circumstances change, they'll struggle to adjust. There'll be a decline in their safety, performance, relationships, and mental health, both at home and at work. And the more they stress, the more they worry, the worse it gets. Eventually they appear on their supervisor's radar and they may enter the performance management cycle. Do you think this is gonna help? No, because now they're anxious and the more anxious they get, the more they worry, the worse it gets. Eventually they may end up, um, in a formal, uh,
performance management process. This doesn't help either because no amount of telling the neurodivergent worker to just try harder or being precise about what you need them to do differently is going to change the way their brain works.

So eventually and inevitably the neurodivergent worker leaves one way or the other, leaves the employment. The, from the employer's perspective, more problem solved. But the vicious cycle of non-disclosure keeps going on and on and it affects the next worker. And the next and the next research has shown that neuro divergent workers have higher unemployment, unstable employment, and lower earning capacity than their neurotypical peers. And this is one of the reasons why.

So let's go back to our case study Nolene and let's just look at what we did differently. In her case, Nolene agreed to meet with me as a neutral third party, um, to see if we could resolve some of the issues that had caused her to go off work, um, and to see if we could facilitate a return to work for her. She told me that the problems that she had at work were really just the tip of the iceberg. And what her employer didn't know was that her manager, uh, her marriage had broken down. She was struggling to raise two boys on her own, and one of them, Dylan, had been suspended from school for some disrespectful behavior towards the teacher. She told me that the school had been telling them for years that they thought Dylan had ADHD and or autism and had encouraged them to have formally assessed.

Nolene's husband had refused because he didn't agree with those labels and he didn't think there was anything wrong that some firm discipline wouldn't fix. This had been a constant source of arguments for them and ultimately contributed to the end of their marriage. Nolene told me that her GP had diagnosed her with anxiety and depression and she was taking antidepressants, which she didn't feel were helping her to complicate things further, she's now in menopause. She told me that she loves her job and she knows she's good at it. She especially loves solving the complex problems, which no one else can, but she feels su stuck and she's convinced she's gonna lose her job. We discussed her relationship with Jane and some of the behavior that Jane had complained about, and Nolene described those as being just in her aspy nature. Jane is autistic, uh, Nolene is autistic.

She told me that she'd been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, the condition we now call level one autism during her late teens. She accepts it as part of who she is and it's never been an issue for her at work. She's never felt the need to tell her employer. She manages well in most areas of her life, although she struggles to make and keep friends and she doesn't get a lot of the jokes she's told she prefers to keep herself to herself. Now, Nolene suspects that she may also have ADHD and she's feeling increasingly overwhelmed and fatigued and finds it impossible to ho to focus her attention on important things like doing her own tax return and managing the paperwork around the separation and child maintenance. Her ability to function has been compromised by stressors, both at home and at work, but also by the hormonal fluctuations of menopause.

So what did we do differently? Well, we start where we always start with education and advocacy. With Nolene's consent, we attended her GP together to discuss her ongoing care and return to work. We asked the GP to consider a psychiatric referral to assess nolene for ADHD because if this is confirmed, nolene may be prescribed a stimulant medication which could improve her ability to focus and reduce those feelings of overwhelm. Treating the underlying ADHD can have a positive effect on Nolan's general mental health and the SSRI she's taking for depression may in fact be making the symptoms of ADHD worse because it can cause a relative drop in the neurotransmitter dopamine that's already deficient in ADHD. We also asked the asked the GP to consider, uh, hormone replacement therapy to maintain estrogen levels and help manage the emotional dysregulation and compromised working memory that may be caused by ADHD and impacting her depression and anxiety.

And we also asked the GP to consider prescribing something short term to help nolene reestablish a healthy sleep habit to lessen her fatigue. In this case, the GP recommended melatonin and then the employer, So Nolene decided to write to the employer and disclose the confirmed diagnosis of level one autism and possible ADHD and explain how this impacts her at work and may have contributed to the incident with Jane. So rules and rules instructor are important to her to feel like she's in control and knows what to expect. It's one of the things that makes her excellent at her job in payroll, but it may have contributed to Jane's perception that she was being micromanaged. Noling isn't comfortable with informal social interactions and she finds it difficult to interpret nonverbal cues, humor and sarcasm. So she missed the nonverbal signs that Jane was getting frustrated with her and didn't realise there was a problem until Jane blew up at her.

Noling speaks in direct terms, which can be perceived by others as blunt or even rude. And sometimes she blurts things out impulsively and interrupts people without thinking about the impact on others. But this may have made Jane feel disrespected and bullied. Nolene says she normally only gets about three to four hours sleep at night, which may be a symptom of ADHD. So about 80% of people with ADHD have a delayed circadian rhythm or other sleep disorder. So she's always tired. And when she's tired, she finds it harder to cope with challenges of being autistic and now also a single mum and not to be confused with a temper tantrum, which is about a person gaining control. The altercation with Jane triggered, um, knowing to experience a complete loss of control in response to the overwhelming personal and work related stressors. She hadn't experienced autistic meltdown since adolescence, but she recognized that brewing feeling as being something distinctly different from feeling angry or anxious. This was terrifying for her at the time, but once she had reflected on it, she felt ashamed and embarrassed about what was an instinctive fight or flight response to a perceived threat and over which she had no control.

Nolene wanted to come back to work, but there were some hurdles for her and her employer that we needed to negotiate. So we we needed to negotiate a plan. So firstly, the bullying complaint. Nolene understood that her employer needed to address this and as rules and structure are important to her, she appreciated it must be managed by the book. But she was anxious about the investigation, the findings, and any decisions that might be made. She was worried about being interviewed and thought the investigator would not understand that she processes questions and communicates differently. She asked to have the questions given to her in writing and to be able to respond to these in writing instead of being interviewed because she felt she could express herself, um, more clearly and honestly. And the the employer agreed read Nolene didn't feel able to physically attend the workplace initially because she finds social interactions challenging at the best of times, but doing so then would only increase her anxiety.

But she really misses the work and she's bored and un motivated at home, which is contributing to her depressed mood. The employer agreed for her to work reduced and flexible hours at home as she had done many months during the pandemic. And rather than giving Nolene something simple to work on, the employer agreed that she would be given several complex pay and leave inquiries and a deadline. Now, this seemed counterintuitive to the employer who didn't want to risk giving her work that might make her feel anxious or that she would not, she wouldn't be able to focus on or complete accurately. Now I know what you are thinking at this point. You're thinking if Nolene has ADHD and she can't focus on doing her own tax return, how is she gonna focus on doing this complex payroll work? This is one of the greatest misunderstandings about ADHD and the problem originates with the name of the condition itself.

A person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder does not have a deficit of attention. They have difficulty regulating their attention. Nolene can hyper focus with incredible attention to detail on work that interests her, such as these complex pay and leave inquiries. But she finds it almost impossible to focus for any length of time on important tasks that don't interest her, like doing her tax return. So the challenge for us here was to establish controls that no, so that Nolene does not hyper focus, lose track of time and increase her fatigue and end up in autistic burnout, which is why we proposed a deadline and then monitoring and checking in with her regularly with coaching calls to make sure that she was taking adequate breaks and getting the work done. It is this complex problem solving work that will give Nolene the dopamine boost she needs to lift her mood and build her confidence again. So the neurodiverse safe work plan we that we developed, provided for a gradual increase in Nolene's hours at home as her conditions and confidence improve and a physical return, um, to the workplace is planned after a facilitator led discussion between Nolene and Jane to help them understand what happened and to establish some ground rules for their relationship moving forward.

Now Nolan's case exposed some gaps in the employer's management systems. So we made some recommendations around these. So initially we recommended neurodiversity training. It's unlikely that Nolan is the only neuro divergent worker in with that employer given their size, but she's the only one they know about. Others either don't know their neuro divergent and don't know why they struggle so much or they know and like Nolene, they haven't told anyone. Neurodiversity awareness training at all levels of the organisation will begin to open minds and conversations so that management systems and work practices can be expanded to be accessible for all workers. A review and revision of consultation and communication processes. Um, so that, uh, neuro divergent workers, um, are actively encouraged to participate in all consultative forums, including the Work Health and Safety Committee. Um, and, and also to have input, um, by whatever means the neuro divergent worker is comfortable in decision making and risk management.

And then we also recommended a review of some risk assessments in consultation with neurodivergent workers to ensure that the vulnerabilities of neuro divergent workers performing those tasks are considered and addressed. So this might include things like the physical environment, so noise, smell, uh, lighting, color, air and people movement can all impact neuro divergent workers. And we recommended a review of fatigue risk management, um, practices when planning rosters and leave and looking at personal protective equipment and clothing can impact neuro divergent workers so that, um, textures, labels, fasteners of uniforms in PPE can be distressing and lead to non-compliance. Like our factory worker with the full face mask, we recommended a review of drug and alcohol, um, procedures, so to make sure that there's, um, adequate provision for workers who, um, take stimulant medication or other prescribed medication to be given, uh, if they turn up as a non-negative result on a drug screen to be able to disclose this confidentially.

And for workers who take these medications to be reassured that they do not automatically preclude them from employment. And if the objective of training and competency assessment is to make sure that workers know and can demonstrate how to perform work safely well then different training and assessment methods and accessibility tools are needed, um, to accommodate the different ways that everybody learns and a standardized approach to managing performance and conflict. And zero toler tolerance policies generally do little to improve the performance of neuro divergent workers. And there's a need for greater compassion here and for leaders generally to develop coaching skills to facilitate motivating and goal oriented conversations rather than a disciplinary approach. And finally, workplace inve investigators need to develop skills in interviewing neuro divergent workers. There's considerable evidence that neuro divergent people can be disadvantaged by the standard investigative interviewing techniques. If Nolan's employer had continued with the standard HR response, it's likely she would've left the organisation by now. But without Nolene being willing to disclose her autism and possible ADHD to her employer, I doubt we would've been able to open this alternative route.

So I'd like to come back to the issue of disclosure here and suggest that maybe there's another way to look at it. There will always be the need for diagnosis, treatment, and medical management for salmon. Unfortunately, without this, people with ADHD cannot access medication that's effective in about 80% of those that can use it in improving, um, functioning, um, and quality of life. And neuro divergent people generally may not be able to access, um, adjustments at work or other supports in the community that would help them. But not everyone needs a diagnosis or wants a diagnosis. Adults who function the way they have their whole life may see no need to have a label or use medication. They're still neuro divergent, They still have great strengths and challenges. The absence of a formal diagnosis does not mean they're any less neuro divergent. So what if we stop talking about the disclosure of a medical condition, which still has US rooted in the medical model of disability and start talking about creating the conditions in which everyone can be themselves at work and without having to wear a neurotypical mask or fake normal neurodiversity.

Inclusion isn't just about being a good corporate citizen or ticking the diversity and inclusion box for the annual report. For employers to discharge their primary duty of care, they must consciously and deliberately weave a neuro inclusive culture into the fabric of their organisation because unless you consciously include, you will unconsciously exclude. It's only within this inclusive environment that neuro divergent workers can be authentic about who they are and what they need to be able to work safely without judgment or discrimination. But it's not only the health and safety of workers that can be improved by creating a neuro inclusive workplace community. It's also good for business. Neuro inclusive employers consistently report improvements in innovative capabilities, reputation and enhancement and greater worker client and customer engagement.

Let's go back to the question I asked at the beginning then. Do you remember Joshua Bel, the same virtues of violinist, the same unique instrument, the same exquisite classical repertoire. One performance brought in quarter of a million dollars and the other about 60. And I asked you to think about what was different between those two performances. Certainly the environment was different. You might not wanna pay pay a hundred dollars to sit and watch a performance in the subway, but I think it was more than that. What really made the difference was the value placed on the performer, the instrument, and the repertoire by the institution. And everyone who attended that performance in the Boston Symphony Hall, the Boston Symphony knew what Bell could do. They knew his worth and they created the conditions that were right to attract the audience that would appreciate the exquisite nature of that performance, enough to pay a hundred dollars a ticket for the experience.

Now there's one more thing I want to tell you about neurodiversity that I didn't cover earlier, and that is that neurodiversity is also now a social justice movement. Just as the racial gender, sexual orientation and disability movements have collaborated, organized, advocated, and legislated for greater inclusion and equity. So do the neurodiversity movement is mobilizing neurodiversity advocacy groups around the are coordinating campaigns such as the UK's neurodiversity umbrella project that was cons conceived by the ADHD foundation to raise awareness and create a striking visual image in cities all over the UK that illustrates the umbrella term that represents all of us. And in South Australia, we now have the first ever assistant minister for autism, which is a great start. But I'd like to see every state government follow suit and expand the role to include neuro divergence generally to create change at that policy level.

And what good awareness campaign doesn't have an official anthem composed and performed by British rapper and songwriter Jay Grange, that and featuring the London Community Gospel Choir that was playing while you were waiting to start. Today We Will Rise tells of Jack's own difficult mental health challenges during his school years that ultimately led to a diagnosis of ADHD and to him becoming a powerful mental health and neurodiversity advocate that now speaks at the un. So to recap on what we've covered today, neurodiversity is the concept that there's a natural variation in the human brain that leads to differences in how all humans think and behave. It's also a social justice movement. If an organisation's management systems are structured around neurotypical functioning, then they will potentially exclude and fail to manage risk for a substantial minority of the workforce that think and function differently. The vicious cycle of nondisclosure means that if a worker doesn't feel safe to disclose the neuro divergence to their employer, then the employer cannot manage occupational risks as experienced by the worker.

But it is the employer that has the primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of workers, including those who function, think, and function differently, actively and consciously. Creating a neuro inclusive culture will benefit all workers and help the employer discharge that primary duty of care. The Neurodiverse Safe Work Initiative encourages employers to use the occupational health and safety management systems approach to expand the scope of their systems to ensure they're accessible for all workers and the person centered approach, including a neurodiverse safe work plan for workers who need temporary or permanent personalized adaptations to their work to be able to work safely. Joshua Bell took a cab to travel just three blocks from his hotel to the subway that day because he couldn't take the risk of his violin being stolen or damaged if he walked in the same way employers must recognize the inherent value and unique talents and abilities that neuro divergent workers bring to their business and keep them safe. Thank you so much for hearing me out today. Um, thank you Nicole, and I'm happy to take any questions.

What a wonderful, uh, way to finish, uh, mental health Week. Uh, a very important topic in terms of neurodiverse safe work. And we're so fortunate to have Katherine join us today who has a unique ex perspective of that living experience plus also workplace health and safety, uh, expertise. So that's wonderful. Uh, lots of practical tips and we love a case study as well. And so Catherine in the chat, there's been lots of appreciation coming through and there's been some lively discussion and also some, uh, some good questions. So let's, uh, let's have a look at some of those questions. So Lucy would like to know, uh, in a business that is new to embracing diversity inclusion, could you provide some advice on how best present its importance to an executive team? And if you have any suggestions on where to start in terms of action? Ah,

Right, very good question. Look, I think when you, you're talking about any cultural change in any organisation, it really needs to be driven from the top. So unless you have, uh, commitment from your board, from your executive leadership team, um, it's, it's hard to drive cultural change from the ground up. So I would always start at that board and executive level and certainly with awareness and education, um, you can demonstrate some examples. Present some examples of businesses that have implemented, uh, neuro inclusive culture and there's lots of those in the literature. Um, and maybe, you know, if one in eight people in the workplace a neuro divergent, then there's a good chance a member of your board or executive leader leadership team has a form of neurodivergent. You might have someone there that's dyslexic or has ADHD on the board because neuro divergent people are often big picture strategic, creative entrepreneurial thinkers. So if you can get somebody from your board or your executive leadership team to step forward, um, and champion and say, Look, I have ADHD and dyslexia, um, and lead the charge, that's always a great place to start.

Thanks Catherine. So next question Sam asks, how can the workplace support those who have just received a late diagnosis for neurodiversity?

Yes, and that's very common and becoming more common as awareness increases. Um, I think the first thing is to respect the position that that person is in and understand that it may take a little while for that diagnosis to settle for them. So not everybody is ready to disclose straight away, not everyone's ready to start talking about it. Others are so relieved, they just wanna get it all out and tell everyone. I think the important thing is to just accept people where they are, accept what they tell you as being their reality. It's their truth. Don't be too quick to jump in with advice because unless you walk a mile in their shoes, you don't really know what their experience is. So, um, I think the best thing that you can do if someone discloses like diagnosis of neuro divergencies, just embrace it. Accept it. They're still the same person. A diagnosis doesn't change who they are, it just makes more sense. Their, their own personal experience makes more sense. So I think being supportive, accepting what they tell you, don't offer advice, maybe ask a question, How does that affect you? What's that like for you? And how can I support you? So don't jump in with solutions, just ask them what they need from you to feel supported at work. That's probably the best way to handle that, I think.

Thanks Catherine. Tanya would like to know is do neurodiversity considered a disability and is it covered under the N D I S?

Ah, good question. So we did talk about this a little bit in the presentation. So yes, under the Disability Discrimination Act, um, neuro divergence can fall within that broad definition that I talked about some forms of neuro divergence. Now I'm thinking from memory, it's only autism at the moment that's covered under the N D I S. There may be others, but there is a move at the moment, um, to have ADHD also included. Um, and I think that's probably warranted and long overdue. The thing is, you can't, you can't separate out people are just whole people and more often than not, a person will have more than one form of neuro divergence. So, um, uh, yes, it can be a disability, um, people can be protected under the Disability Discrimination Act, but not everyone considers their neuro divergence to be a disability. So, you know, brilliant people, you know, high functioning people, you know, scientists, athletes, um, personalities, TV personality has come out and say their neuro divergent and they credit their success to their neuro divergence and they don't consider themselves to be disabled. And that's why I argue that perhaps neuro divergence should be included under the Anti-Discrimination Act, just like those other categories that I talked about. Because regardless of whether you consider yourself to be disabled or not, you're still neuro divergent and there's still discrimination everywhere in the way that societal systems are structured. So does that answer that

Question? Mm-hmm. , thanks Katherine. We had, uh, we have people online that have a little bit of knowledge in this area too, so there was some nice, um, sharing happening too in the chat there. Good, good. Uh, Susan has asked, in your opinion, do you see a role for screening processes?

Um, I think it depends on how they're used. So look, there are roles, uh, there is work, um, where, uh, neurodivergent workers, it can impact safety critical roles for. So for example, um, you know, ADHD and stimulant medication can affect people in aviation. In the aviation sector. Pilots say traffic controllers, drivers, so on. So there may be a need at pre-employment medical for those conditions to be understood. Um, and for the employer to be assured that any risks around that condition are being managed or are able to be managed. That's no diff different from the pre-employment medical process that we have in place for those sorts of positions now at any other medical conditions that could impact safety. So there's always going to be that. But in terms of generally screening people in the workplace, um, I think it depends why you want to do it.

If you want to do it because you don't want neuro divergent people in your workplace, then I probably say no because that's highly discriminatory. And not only that, if you're screening people out, you are missing out on this diverse workforce. You're missing out on all of the incredible talents and abilities that neuro divergent people bring to your workplace. But I think there is benefit in, um, screening if you want to understand your workforce and your makeup, the makeup of your workforce, um, a little bit better. Um, so the neurodiverse Safe Work Initiative is actually, um, uh, starting to use a screening tool. So we're actually bringing in a a neurodiversity screening tool. So get in touch with me online if you're interested to know more about that. That's gonna be used within the context of a coaching pa um, package so that we can understand the individual's unique neuro divergent profile, um, cuz everybody's different.

And then, um, support them with coaching around the areas that they do really well and how do we capitalize and, and bolster that. And then where are the areas where people are challenged and how does that impact their safety at work? And then we can design work around controlling, um, some of those risk factors. So I think in that context, it's, it's fine. I think if you think about screening, neurodiversity screening as a being, being a bit like Myers-Brigg screening or disc screening, where you've used that to look at, um, team development and leadership development, it can be useful in that context. Um, but if you're using it to screen people out at pre-employment, unless it's associated with one of those safety critical roles as part of a formal medical process, then I would probably say, um, not So does that answer that question?

Thanks. Thanks Catherine. Uh, we've got a question. Question from Ricky. Uh, I believe I work with a neuro divergent worker. How do I know this?

Uh, why do you need to know? This would be my answer, , can't you just accept them for who they are? Why do you need to put a label on it? I mean, unless the person has told you that they have ADHD or autism, it doesn't really matter what label they carry. They could have a whole range of other problems in medical conditions. All you need to know is who they are as a person and how can you work together well as a, as a team at work. Um, and that means understanding each other, communicating with each other, respecting each other, um, and, and you know, just getting, getting on trying to understand, um, what they need to be able to walk to perform work well, uh, and safely.

Thanks Catherine. Uh, William would like to know how do we ensure a balance of needs? So that balancing between what the role functions needs are versus supporting the individual requests. Is it a balance of both parties working together to understand what is needed for each other?

Yes, it is a balance and it's, it's communication is so important. Um, it's important for the neuro divergent worker to be able to understand themselves and how they perform well, what their strengths are, what they do really well and, and what their challenges are and how they need to be supported around those challenges. But at the same time, the employer still needs to get a job done, but I think there needs to be some flexibility around the role. Um, and so it's about, um, marrying up the person's abilities with the critical demands of the role and where there are areas of the role that the worker's never gonna be able to perform effectively given their neuro divergence. Well then the employer probably needs to look at some flexibility around that. So does that work and need to do that function or can somebody else do it? So, um, I think less rigid, um, job descriptions, role descriptions, um, more, more flexibility around that can probably get to the point where people can work together and, and get the job done safely.

And I think this is gonna be a little bit similar. So Andrew would like to know, how would you tackle issues? So an accommodation is working for one party but not the other.

Again, communication. Um, and that's, so if you have, so I guess what you mean there is perhaps you have two people with different needs. You might have one person, um, who, um, has, uh, autism and they have sensory processing issues. Um, and another person, um, in the workplace who has another condition and needs other things, and they, you're getting a clash. I think you need to get those parties together and talk about it, um, understand each other and try and work out a solution that works for everyone. Um, at the end of the day, the employer holds the primary duty of care to keep all workers safe. Um, so it is a discussion that needs to happen and I'd say happen early. So the sooner you recognize that there's a clash between those needs, don't let it fester and, and, and, and brew, um, because then it'll, it'll boil up and it'll be outta control. I think having the conversation between the parties early, um, and have a solutions based conversation where, look, we're all on the same side here. We all wanna come to work, um, and do the work safely. So, um, you know, where, where's the compromise here? Um, I think if you can get the two people coming up with a solution together and compromising together, then um, that's probably the best way to go. It's gonna give you more, more of a lasting solution.

Thank you. So Tammy asks, are there any practical tips for workplace health and safety practitioners to use when investigating incidents or assessing risks to consider neurodiversity and also any practical, uh, resources?

Yes, so there's quite a lot of research online now. Um, and I could probably put some stuff up on the website as well that talks about how neuro divergent workers can be disadvantaged by the standard investigative, um, processes. Um, so I think, as I said in the presentation, workplace investigators really need to learn more about neuro divergence and how it affects people and be prepared to be flexible. If at the end of the day what you wanna do is get to the truth of the problem, you wanna get to the, to what happened, you wanna get to the root of the problem. You need to be open to the different ways that people, um, think and process infor information and communicate. So, um, not everyone can cope well in an, in an interview situation when they're being interviewed by an investigator. I mean, that's very stressful for anyone at the best of times.

Um, but an autistic person may be just inclined to agree to everything because they just wanna make you happy. Um, or an or an ADHD person may just be inclined to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk because they're hyperactive and they're get gonna get it all out and they're gonna say too much. And as an investigator, you're not gonna be able to get it all down. So I think, um, you, depending on who your witnesses are in any investigation, you need to not ask, look at any of you here are neuro divergent, but you need to be open to the possibility that one in eight people in the workplace is, is neuro divergent. I'm gonna have people here who think and function differently. So you need to go in with an open mind, you need to ask lots of questions.

You need to keep an open mind and you need to listen to what people are saying. Um, and I think, um, you need to give people the opportunity to engage in that risk management and investigate investigative process in a way that works for them. So less standard cookie cutter approaches, this is the way I'm gonna do a risk assessment, and it's all gotta be documented in this way. Um, not every neuro divergent worker is comfortable sitting in a meeting room situation and engaging in a conversation. Um, they may be more comfortable putting like our case study, they may be more comfortable putting their ideas and their thoughts and their, um, evidence down in writing when they have an opportunity to think about what they wanna say and how they wanna say it to make it as to get the truth out. Um, so, so I think you just have to be flexible.

Um, and if you do, if somebody does come to you in the workplace and say, you know, I, I have ADHD and there's this risk, or I have, I have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a big problem in workplaces because if you think about how much we use the written word, you know, policies, procedures, um, incident report forms, uh, investigation reports, um, safety data sheets, pre-start checklists, they're all in writing. How does a neuro divergent person with dyslexia deal with that amount of written work? So I think when you're doing risk assessments, you need to look at the risk and how are we gonna control it given the fact that people may not be able to read this risk assessment, or they may not be able to read the safety data sheet, How are we gonna make that information available to somebody with dyslexia? Um, so it, you really just have to keep an open mind and, um, be open to all possibilities. I guess

We're receiving some really good feedback from the online audience. It's a great topic and, and uh, definitely encourages the need for HR and safety to work together to consider how to best protect the, the, um, the health, safety and wellbeing of everybody. So now I've got a question from Liz. If a manager suspected an employee was neuro divergent, for example, ADHD or autism, but the employee had not disclosed it, would it ever be okay for the manager to raise this with the employee?

Mmm, that's a good question, Liz. I think, um, you have to respect people's privacy. Um, but there's also a need, um, for the employer to manage risk. Um, a person you may suspect a person has ADHD or autism, but they may not know. And so having a supportive conversation with them can prompt them to go and seek further, um, advice and maybe get a diagnosis. So I guess it depends how you wanna have that conversation and maybe avoid using labels. Um, so I certainly, I mean I had a co a contact with in this situation with a worker that the employer was saying to me that, you know, there's something, you know, not right with them, they're probably autistic or something. And I guess, uh, the way I deal with it is to ask the person to tell me about their experience. Um, what's that like for you?

How do you feel when X happens? What does that feel like? Um, I need to understand. So seek it from the point of view of what that person's experience is and not worry so much about labels. Okay. Because there's still a lot of stigma, unfortunately. And, and I maintain the only way to break down stigma is by having open dis open conversations and talking about it and raising awareness. But for people who are neuro divergent, there's still stigma, there's still shame. They may have been brought up, particularly if they're, they're, you know, they're like me. Um, you know, that we didn't know anything about neuro divergence when I was a kid. Um, there's still that stigma and a little bit of shame and you think, Oh God, I don't wanna tell anybody about this. I'm so ashamed that people think I'm abnormal. Um, so we need to not use or rely on labels so much.

What you are seeing is a work is a worker who thinks and functions differently, and that's what you need to understand. So having a conversation with a worker about what is your experience, what do you feel, what are the things that you do really well that I know I can come and give you, and you're gonna get it done, you know, brilliantly and you're gonna come back asking for more. Tell me what those things are, what are the things that you'd like to be able to do better, and what are the things that you really struggle with? And tell me what that's like for you and how, what do you need from me to be able to support you with that? Sometimes a person will say, Oh, you know, I just, my sleep is so terrible, you know, and I, I, um, or, or I'm just, I'm so I can't stop.

I'm just, my mind's going all of the time. I guess in those situations you can say, Well look, you know, there are some medical and neuro divergent conditions that can make people feel that way. And have you ever thought about, um, having a chat with a psychologist or having a chat with your gp, um, about that? Because maybe there's something at the, at the heart of that, um, that, that you could get some help with. But I'm not saying I think you have ADHD or autism. I'm just saying, how can I support you at work because your experience is different and everybody's experience is different. What at the end of the day, what we want is to get the best out of people. So I think just the answer to sum that up is it's just, is it ever okay to raise it? I think it depends how you do it. Um, and try to avoid using the labels. If it's done in a supportive way because you wanna support the worker's experience at work and help them work safely and productively, then um, yeah, it's, it's, it's okay, but just be careful cuz not everyone's ready to disclose.

Thanks Catherine. Uh, Emily asks, uh, if you have any suggestions of organisations that provide neurodiversity training courses?

We do , so the Neurodiversity Safe Work Initiative, certainly we are, um, we're getting all of that up and running now and we're actually hoping to have some online training available, um, uh, on our website. So you can just do that, um, you know, at your leisure. Um, that's, that's hopefully gonna be available at the end of the year. Um, but there are organisations, look, to be perfectly frank with you, Australia is so far behind, um, other countries like, um, the UK and, and Canada, uh, and parts of Europe, for example, we've got a long way to go to catch up. So if you go online, you will find other organisations that do neurodiversity training overseas, for example. Um, but they'll be, and they're very, very worthwhile, but they will be more based in that country's culture and and experience. So, um, yeah, the, you know, just speak, you know, it'll be different culturally it'll be different, but certainly in the UK and in Europe. Um, and I think there's a company down in the Sydney, uh, I think they call the Neurodiversity Academy that offers some training around neurodiversity generally as well. You can look them up, but if you're looking for, um, something around safety particularly then watch this space as it's coming. .

Thank you. Uh, Art would like to know how can employers act to assist employees in the case that the employee may never feel comfortable to disclose a neuro divergence, but where the employee may suspect they are struggling.

Okay. That's pretty much similar to the last question, I think.

Yeah. Um, let's see if we, is that a final

Question that the screening tools?

Uh, yes. I think we covered the screening tools. We are. Is that our

Final question? Yeah. Okay. I think that's, um, that's the end of our questions Catherine. So thank you very much for, um, providing lots of practical tips there. That was excellent. Uh, I'd just like to thank, uh, everyone for joining us today. We hope you got some valuable information to help protect the psychological health of all workers in your workplace. It's certainly an interesting area. Uh, we have lots of interesting questions, lots of good practical tips today that we we're able, that Catherine was able to share with you. Today's presentation recording will be available on our website, so keep an eye out for it in the coming weeks. As we wrap up the event today, if I can ask you to scan the QR code on the screen at the moment, you're invited to confidentially share insights into preferences, barriers, and drivers for your organisation in developing and implementing health and safety management systems that consider mental health and how you engage in mental health initiatives and programs. You can also go into the prize draw to win delivery of a four hour mental health training session for managing supervisors in your workplace. And that is valued up to a thousand dollars. So check out the website, for other events happening during Safe Work Month. Have a good day everyone. And remember, work safe, home safe,