COVID-19 has tested the resilience of our staff like nothing the organisation has ever experienced before.

This is something our staff have read, heard and experienced time and time again over the past three years.

It’s a credit to our workforce on how they have responded to challenges posed by this pandemic.

One of the key initiatives that has helped support staff through those challenges has been the Wellbeing

Workshop program.

And, despite several postponements of the program during the pandemic, in May our organisation celebrated the 100th edition of the Wellbeing Workshop.

At the time, NSW Ambulance’s Senior Program Specialist of Wellbeing Workshops, Elizabeth Simeoli, said this significant milestone meant that more than 4800 members of our workforce had completed the program.

“It’s such a significant achievement and celebration for the whole organisation, our participants and our workshop team,” Elizabeth said.

“The workshop has experienced a number of changes and stoppages throughout the COVID-19 period, but there was always a commitment from all areas and levels of the organisation to keep the program running.

We often receive feedback from participants during or after the workshop saying, ‘my workshop attendance was perfectly timed’ or ‘the workshop gave me the nudge or wake up I needed’ or ‘thank you for caring for us and showing us help is available’. Comments like these bring our workshop team great joy. We are absolutely driven by the idea of supporting our staff in any way we can, especially knowing the incredibly intense and exhausting few years they have experienced.”

The workshop is a development program designed to support the mental and physical wellbeing of NSW Ambulance staff.

Participants learn simple yet powerful strategies and skills to implement into daily life to enhance health, safety, self-awareness, wellbeing and quality of life.

Kogarah Paramedic Jodie Anderson – who was part of the 100th workshop – said the three-day program (which runs for one and-a-quarter days for non-operational staff) was “extremely beneficial.”

“I think it has given me the motivation to get back on track and start following those good habits again, like drinking more water, improving my nutrition and getting more sleep.

“All of those factors can help reduce the chance of fatigue or injury, while also helping me to look after myself better both off-duty and on-duty.”

Jodie said she hoped the workshops can be an ongoing initiative.

Also part of the 100 club is Junee Paramedic Jono Finn. Jono said the program offers a great base for staff who haven’t previously placed a strong focus on their personal wellbeing (e.g. nutrition and fitness). He also said it provides a good refresher for those who have.

“Given COVID-19 was a huge distraction and a downer, this was a timely refresher to bring back some of those strategies to implement into my work life,” he said.

The Wellbeing Workshop has also provided a good opportunity for staff to meet other colleagues from different parts of the organisation.

Take for instance, Wauchope Paramedic Dave Moran and Critical Care Paramedic (CCP)/Aeromedical Control Centre Officer Michael Burrow.

The two met at the 100th workshop, and, after being prompted during a session to think of ways to challenge themselves, they decided they would both do five push-ups during each interval of the three-day course.

“Going forward, he (Michael) will be getting emails from me asking if he has done his push-ups,” Dave joked.

“This workshop has been a bit of a godsend for me, particularly around nutrition and being mindful of how we should think about ourselves a lot of the time.”

Added Michael: “I’ve been in the job for more than 30 years and I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a workshop like this one before, where it encourages you to take time out to look after yourself.”

“Because of this, I think the workshop can also help staff to be more efficient and effective in their job.”