Funding announced today from Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation will help The Xfactor Collective Foundation start to take action to address the almost normalised sense of burnout and mental ill-health across the social sector.
The creation of a Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub will provide both immediate support and long-term advocacy for improved mental health and wellbeing. Today’s announcement means that work on building the Hub can commence in July 2022, with resources starting to roll out from April 2023.
The new digital Hub will be the go-to resource for building resilient social sector workplaces, with information available on all matters related to organisational and individual mental health and leadership. The Hub will curate, aggregate and develop content, provided by subject matter specialists and leading mental health organisations. Those working in the social sector will be able to access tailored resources, such as self-paced learning and trainings, webinars, consultations and downloadable resources.
Sarah Davies AM, Chair of The Xfactor Collective Foundation, said that by being so focussed on the beneficiaries, the sector has lagged in responding to its own resilience and mental wellbeing, and this initiative sets out to change that.
“It’s become increasingly expected that not-for-profit groups and social sector organisations do more with less – yet the demand on them is increasing, and more and more people are feeling the effects of burnout.
“It is no longer acceptable – indeed, it is the elephant in the room – that social sector organisations, their staff and volunteers are on a perpetual mental health rollercoaster. There is much we can do to improve mental health wellbeing, and in turn, improve social and community outcomes.
“Thanks to the support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, we can start to do something about it. The Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub will be an important resource to ensure the sustainability of the social sector, and will become a long-term resource for future challenges.
“It will include tools to measure and benchmark wellbeing and resilience performance, and identify targeted resources and content. There will also be engagement activities to raise awareness, and we can provide the sector with data, tools and case studies for increased advocacy.
“We have been working towards this since we ran the RESET 2020 National Impact + Need Research Study, and 80% of respondents told us that pre-pandemic ways of working were leading to widespread burn out. At that time – early on in the pandemic – 45% were feeling stressed or anxious, always or often. And it’s only become more challenging since then.
“We are delighted to have the support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, and appreciate their leadership as the first to fund this important initiative which will enhance the welfare of all those who work in the for-purpose sector.”
Dr Catherine Brown OAM, CEO, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, says this is a project that has long been needed in the sector.
“Throughout the COVID pandemic, we have monitored the changing support needs of the community and the social sectors. Over the last two years, the social sector has stepped up when it has been most needed and assisted people by transforming services into digital formats, designing new programs to meet the needs of people facing unemployment or homelessness, often for the first time, and taking special care of vulnerable groups and in every way being the backbone of a strong Australian community. And the sector is continuing to respond to COVID needs and recovery.
“The leaders and staff of charities and not-for-profit groups have carried heavy loads and we have been aware of the need for mental health support. We hope that the Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub will be a lasting legacy that continues to support the charitable sector into the future, whatever challenges we face.”
Social sector leaders also welcomed the news. CEO and Board Chair Jill Roche, sits on the Board of two not-for-profit organisations and leads a national charity for teenage parents. She noted there is an overall lack of charity-specific resources and support.
“The Hub will be a great support for my team. We have long prioritised the wellbeing of our team and have been guided by them on the things that help, but at times, it has been difficult to find resources that are nuanced towards small charities and those of us who work in the social sector.
“Most people I know are drawn towards this work because they are invested in wanting to see individuals and communities thrive. But working hard and having deep commitment to the wellbeing of others can’t keep you sustainably fuelled – there needs to be access to relevant resources and support for our sector.
“I am delighted to see that this project will advocate for voices who are often unheard, those of our hardworking employees and volunteers – helping them to keep to making a difference in the lives of their beneficiaries.”