In a year of huge change impacting all members and workplaces, we have witnessed the financial services industry, the mental health community, and the Australian population at large, coming together to extend support, check in with each other, and shine a light on mental health, like never before.
Our own research has seen mental health conditions in the Australian working population rise by nine percentage points in the last 12 months.
Hearteningly, workplaces are really stepping up to support the mental health of their workers, and SuperFriend has received record demands for our mental health and wellbeing training. The majority, being delivered to our Partners and the financial services sector.
To meet this growing demand, SuperFriend has pivoted its business operating model to being largely virtual in the delivery of initiatives and Partner engagement. Although this is the experience of a huge number of workplaces, we have successfully achieved this rapid transition due to the exceptional talent and dedication of the SuperFriend team.
There have been many silver linings in amongst the challenges. This report will share with you the organisation’s results for 2019-2020.
At SuperFriend, we are determined to harness this growing momentum around mental health, wellbeing, and stigma reducing conversation, and drive positive action in workplaces across Australia, to benefit members and the economy.
Easy and accessible initiatives for Partners and their members
With many of our Partners’ staff and members working on the frontline throughout COVID-19, we were delighted to provide our Mental Health and Wellbeing Training solutions through our new online learning platform, MySuperFriend. MySuperFriend is a huge extension of our digital capacity, uplifting the value and impact SuperFriend can deliver, and reimagining our existing content for ease of use and accessibility.
Workers everywhere can now access these resources on demand to learn critical skills for improving their own and their colleagues’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as skills for providing targeted support to vulnerable customers.
We also co-designed digital toolkits in response to the Australian bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic with our Partners to provide practical, timely information and support during two particularly challenging periods for their staff and members. Resources included Looking After Yourself, a free self-check-in and action planning tool to help users manage and enhance their mental health and wellbeing.
SuperFriend now has 34 financial and insurance services Partners committed to seeking industry best practice mental health and wellbeing solutions and outcomes for their staff and members, who make up more than half of Australia’s working population.
At the beginning of this financial year, SuperFriend’s 2021 Strategy commenced, with implementation continuing. Progress made during year one of this new strategy is being reported in this annual report, alongside the financial results during this time.
Board and Expert Advisory Committee movements
During the year, we had some personnel movement on the Board. SuperFriend wishes to take this opportunity to acknowledge the valuable contribution and hard work of Paul Schroder, during his Directorship since 2010. Paul was instrumental in the ongoing evolution, growth and success of SuperFriend over the last ten years. The Board also farewelled Craig Stevens, who had joined the Board in May 2018. Craig’s contribution and unwavering support of SuperFriend and our work was deeply appreciated and of great value.
Pleasingly, we welcomed new Director Rose Kerlin, Group Executive, Membership, AustralianSuper, who brings a wealth of expertise through her extensive background in member-focused financial services roles.
This year, our Program Committee evolved to become an Expert Advisory Committee, enabling a collective of external advisors to be involved in the development of new solutions and market opportunities for SuperFriend. The purpose of the Expert Advisory Committee is to assist the Board in its oversight of innovative solutions and initiatives.
With the transition to the Expert Advisory Committee, SuperFriend farewelled Joanne Warner (Carer and Consumer Representative), Geoff Brooks (Fund Representative, Equip), Jenny Oliver (Insurer Representative, TAL) and Mark Davis (Lived-experience Representative). We were extremely fortunate to have their expertise and exceptional counsel in their respective tenures on the Committee and guiding our work.
We warmly welcomed Maria Falas, Head of Mental Health and Wellness, Zurich and OnePath, and Chris Deakin, Executive Manager, Distribution, LUCRF Super, to the Committee. Chris’ and Maria’s wealth of experience spans more than 28 and 20 years in financial services, respectively.
We sincerely thank the SuperFriend Board, Committee and team for their hard work and dedication to progressing SuperFriend’s vision in the last year, particularly as they navigated the challenges that have come with COVID-19.
We are also sincerely thankful to all our Partners – whose dedication to the mental health of their staff, members and their workplaces are the very reason SuperFriend exists. Together we are providing solutions, advocacy and insights to Australian workplaces and workers every day. We look forward to continuing to work together in 2020-21 towards our shared vision.
In reporting our 2019-2020 Annual Report, we’d like to acknowledge those with a lived experience of mental illness or suicide, and those who support their loved ones and colleagues. SuperFriend acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the lands where we live and work. We have great respect for their continuing custodianship of and connection to land, waters and culture.
Chair Board of Directors, SuperFriend
Chief Executive Officer, SuperFriend