E-Learning for Psychological Security

#10 A change agent on a mission – Lucy Brogden, Chair, Mental Health Commission (s01ep10)

Sep 23, 2021

Lucy is the Chair of the National Mental Health Commission. In this episode, Lucy talks about how a family crisis led her to pursue a purpose to improve Australia's mental health. She strives for a life of service and purpose, and reveals two people who were largely influential in that quest. Lucy also shares what she considers to be the building blocks of a caring culture.
"The greatest gift you can be to a colleague, is what I'd call an emotional mirror. It’s really powerful to show that care by saying, ‘I noticed’. I noticed that you've been late, I noticed that you're not engaging in the meetings in the same way. I noticed that you're a little bit more irritable. Imagine there might be something going on. What can we do?"
- Lucy Brogden


  • How a family crisis led Lucy to pursue a purpose to improve Australia’s mental health.
  • Why Lucy considers Macquarie Bank CEO Alan Moss to also be a caring CEO and explains why.
  • Striving for a life of service and purpose.


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Transcript from the interview

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Graeme Cowan, Lucy Brogden

Graeme Cowan  00:26

So it’s a real pleasure to have Lucy Brogden with us today. Welcome, Lucy.

Lucy Brogden  01:04

Thank you, Graeme.

Graeme Cowan  01:06

Lucy, what does caring in the workplace mean to you?

Lucy Brogden  01:10

Look, I think caring in the workplace is fundamental to the workplace, it’s not an add on, it has to be part of the DNA, caring for each other, caring for those above us, those below us, caring for our clients, it’s the key to bringing our humanity to work, is to care for one another. And so I can’t envisage that you can have a successful workplace if you don’t care for one another?

Graeme Cowan  01:41

And what do you think are the critical building blocks for that care, to build that culture of care?

Lucy Brogden  01:47

Look, I think building a culture of care is a fascinating concept. And when we look at issues around corporate culture, we often find that either people are pointing the fingers up or down, you know, management to the board, the board to management, or everyone wants to be a part of it. And I’m of the school of thought that said, everyone’s part of building a culture. And a caring culture is one that is safe for people, and nurturing for people. And these might sound like sort of New Age kind of concepts. But we know in the evidence is really strong that the more we can care for one another, support one another, create that safe environment, actually, the more productive and the more successful, our organization is likely to be.

Graeme Cowan  02:40

Yeah, great insight and things you raise there. For the purpose of our listeners that don’t know your background, could you give a brief overview because you’ve got an interesting career, as I like to say when I was in recruiting, and it’s always interesting to see how things evolve and the choices people make. So I think we’ll help people just to get some idea of how you evolved.

Lucy Brogden  03:02

Certainly Graham, and I often wonder if being an interesting career, or sometimes the left field candidate can work in one’s favor. And sometimes it can be a bit of an issue. But I’ll try and give you the short version. And my career essentially started in banking and finance. But if I step back before, one step before that, when I was looking at what I wanted to do, my passion had been to do psychology, but my parents were slightly conservative and said, No, you know, do something useful. medicine, law or commerce, they’re real things. I dutifully went off, knowing that I couldn’t be a doctor. They were all lawyers. I am born into a law firm. Genetically, perhaps I am a lawyer, but I wasn’t ready to do law, call that the black sheep so I did commerce, and I did a cadetship with Ernst and Young, and then then moved to Macquarie Bank. And I’m not sorry that I did that work. I learned an awful lot. I had a good time. But I just knew it wasn’t going to sustain me for my working life. And when I turned 30, my husband actually gave me an ultimatum to say, Stop complaining about not doing psychology and go and do it. Or just, you know, put it behind you. And, you know, a great ultimatum to be given because I was working at Macquarie bank at the time reporting directly to the managing director Alan Moss, and we had a great chat and I said I’ve got to follow this passion. And he got right behind it and said we’ll make it work. And so I worked three day, studied two, and managed to then create the organizational development function with the Macquarie Bank at the same time. Then, you know, life’s puts you on strange paths and journeys and I ended up after three children deciding that the pace of investment banking was probably not amenable to that and you know, all credit to Macquarie they were very flexible. But I knew for me it was time to step back and focus on family. And it’s through that and my husband’s mental health journey that I ended up in mental health, advocacy and then policy.

Graeme Cowan  05:26

In that role, where you’re reporting to Alan Moss, what what function were you doing there for him?

Lucy Brogden  05:32

So I had what I described as the best job in Sydney, possibly Australia. I was the manager special project. So I was secretary to the Executive Committee and the Management Committee of Macquarie Bank. I worked on the annual strategy review. I worked with ratings agencies and the Treasury function on ratings. And I also did a lot of speech writing and communications with and for Alan,

Graeme Cowan  05:59

Nnd what do you learn working so closely with him? Because Macquarie is often called the Millionaire’s factory, you know, it’s the hive of the capitalist world. What did you learn? It sounds like there, he was very open minded. He was very flexible that allowed you to study and stuff, but what did you learn from him?

Lucy Brogden  06:16

Look, I think, you know, yes, Macquarie is known as the Millionaire’s factory. But if we are talking about the seat carrying CEO, to me, Alan is the epitome of that. very caring of his direct reports. But for all the people that were working for him, we would often be asked to complete many surveys from external regulators and the various marketing type things that newspapers put out. And consistently, Alan would say, as the CEO, the majority of his time was spent on people issues. Now, that was the performance management people issues, but it was also the development side of people issues. And he would invest quite a lot of conscious thinking time, trying to address issues of performance, issues of poor culture, really thinking about the people within the organization. And to give you an example of that, we did an acquisition when I was working with Alan of another investment bank. And we talked about how we were going to integrate these people, because we were basically buying the people, you buy the brand, but you buy the people. And so integrating the people was important. And Alan said, Well, I’m going to go over and meet these people, all these people that we’re about to bring on. And he walked the floors of their dealing rooms and their offices introducing himself. And it was fascinating the number of people that said, wow, I’ve worked at x company my whole life and never met the boss. You haven’t even acquiredus yet and your standing in my office, you’re leaning over my dealing desk. And I think that just shows his innate sense of the people are critical to the success of the organization.

Graeme Cowan  08:04

What a great example of demonstrating care and you know, face failure, it sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But many people do forget to do that. And, you know, even you know, approaching that group before they came on board, you know, what a lesson in culture he gave them before they even joined, which really had to maximize the chance that was going to work, doesn’t it?

Lucy Brogden  08:25

Absolutely, absolutely.

Graeme Cowan  08:28

Lucy you touched on previously a really pivotal moment in your life and with your, your husband, John Brogden. And for listeners that aren’t from New South Wales, I’ll just give a brief summary. John Brogden was the opposition leader in the New South Wales parliament. And it was a really incident, would you mind just explaining a little bit about that and how that influences what you’re doing now?

Lucy Brogden  08:54

Sure. So about 15 years ago, now, John had a euphemism of politics, or the shorthand of politics, a very public fall from grace. And he did make some errors where he completely owns of judgment and making some inappropriate comments. And he had to step down from his position of leadership. That was sort of the public face of the issues and it did culminate in him, attempting to take his life, which was an extraordinary situation for us to both find ourselves in but that was the pointy end. Stepping back from that I knew as his wife that he had been struggling with issues for a lot longer than that this just didn’t come out of the blue. But he did have a suicide attempt. It was all over the Australian media. It made the international media I had a friend in Chile, telling me it was on theirs, UK, it was everywhere. So there was no hiding from The fact that he’d had this suicide attempt, but also there was no hiding from the fact that he was, had been and continues to live with a mental illness.

Graeme Cowan  10:09

And what you mentioned that was the pointy end, and what about behind the scenes? What did you draw on to help guide you through that episode?

Lucy Brogden  10:21

I’m not sure Graham, if it was the universe, somehow looking out for us that that bought us together with my interest in psychology, or him pushing me to do psychology, but I had, you realized that he wasn’t traveling as well as he should be. I realized he was distressed. Like many people in that situation in the caring situation, I would put it to him that perhaps he wasn’t coping as well. He was more irritable, he was sleeping more, he wasn’t sleeping, he was eating more. He wasn’t eating, doing all the wrong things in a psychology student of showing him symptoms of issues and saying this is you. To which he would deny it. Then I went into a place of thinking, well, if it’s not him, it must be me. I tried all sorts of different things. And I think I shared this story, launching a book of yours Graeme that I got so desperate that I looked up foods that might contain things like serotonin, which we know contribute to mood, and diet became a staple of bananas for dinner, he was a little curious. But it was only years later, actually, at the launch of your book, Graeme that Professor Gordon Parker said, lovely attempt Lucy, but really would have taken about 20 kilos a day. I tell the story Graeme, because whenever I tell this story, someone will come up to me and say, I’ve done the same thing. And it goes to the point of loving and caring for someone that needs some support, but perhaps won’t reach out for that support. So when John actually had his suicide attempt, and he was in hospital, as distressed as I was, by all of that there was part of me that was hugely relieved, because I knew we were on a recovery journey. And I think there’s a real message of hope for people that the majority of people will go on to make a full recovery and lead a very fulfilling and contributing life, if they get the help that they need.

Graeme Cowan  12:37

That’s such a great message. And I just add to our listeners that both John and Lucy were really kind to me, I went through my own mental health crisis, I attempted to take my own life, and launch my first book, which is called Back From the Brink. And John launch that with at the black dog Institute with me, and then about a month later, I did my second book Back From the Brink; 2 which were for carers, and Lucy was kind enough to launch it with me in the media, and also the black dog Institute. So we’ve got a long history and also further coincidence, we also happen to come from the same area, and they’ll parents knew each other for the Manning Valley in the mid North Coast. So it’s been a great journey. In your most recent role, Lucy, you’ve really got a very high profile. Now, you know, you’ve won or been been awarded an AFR woman of influence award. You’ve got an AO, is it as well? And an AO now

Lucy Brogden  13:40


Graeme Cowan  13:41

AM sorry, sorry, sorry, I get mixed up. Got an AM as well. And in your role as the chair of the Mental Health Commission Advisory Board, I know that you mix with a wide range of CEOs and senior leaders. How are you seeing the conversation change from what it was, say, five years ago?

Lucy Brogden  14:03

Look, Graeme? That’s a really good question. And I think in the context of mental health and wellbeing within the workplace, we’re seeing progress being made all the time. It was sort of 5-10 years ago that I would be going into speak at corporate events and still get people putting up their hand because they weren’t actually aware that they had a legal obligation to provide a workplace that was psychologically safe. I’ve got to say that’s a lot less now and most people appreciate that legal obligation. Although from time to time, I still get people asking me how they make the business case for it. And I’m not sure how you make the business case for a legal obligation, but that’s for others to solve. What has intrigued me in the workplace context is that often when we want to start this journey and I have a master’s in Organizational Psychology, we would have a starting point that starts around on work design and co-design. Often organizations want to go right out to the pointy end, let’s start at suicide prevention and work back in. And so I think, you know, really, there’s probably no wrong place to start in a conversation around both psychological safety and mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. We’ve seen that there’s increased skill. We’ve also seen, there’s a lot of increased activity and noise, and maybe not all of that comes from a place of skill and of evidence and of science. And so one of the things that we’re working on at the National Mental Health Commission, in collaboration with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance is really how do we scale up all our businesses from our biggest top listed companies, or large government departments, to our small, medium sized enterprises, and even sole traders, to help them understand their obligations in the what and how of achieving and meeting those, and exceeding them.

Graeme Cowan  16:05

Yeah, and as we discussed previously, there’s also another organization called the Corporate Mental Health Alliances, which is being led by leaders but being influenced by evidence, which is, which is a good place to start, how do you see that group interacting with the Mentally Healthy Alliance?

Lucy Brogden  16:27

So it’s we’ve got off to a great start, Steve Laurel at Microsoft has really championed and brought together some of their top business leaders to create the corporate Mental Health Alliance of Australia. And their tagline is that they are a business lead, Expert Advisor, and that’s a great position. And together, I meet with his Alliance, and members of the Corporate Alliance, meet with ours and we’ve got this big project, the National Work Place Initiative that the Commonwealth funded. And there are many members of the Corporate Mental Health Alliance working on our various working groups around framework design, evaluation, etc. Because to be successful, all these things have to come from a place of codesign understanding business need, meeting their business need, but you know, being really expert informed in the design of those interventions.

Graeme Cowan  17:24

And I think it’s also really interesting that it’s now you know, set before that people can often make a business case, or don’t know how to, but there are some pretty compelling things like I know, for example, Comcast say the average cost of a stress claim is $342,000. One time is $342,000, you know, the CSIRO saying that rising mental health issues and work stress is a mega risk for the next 20 years. And that was before COVID. So there are increasingly that thing, but I think one of the most stunning bits of research that I became aware of was something that Gallup did they run what they call a q 12, which determines the engagement and discretionary effort of employees and it just 12 questions. But the one question or statement that has the biggest influence is this statement, my supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person. Now they’ve shown the more people that strongly agree with that, the higher the profit, the higher the productivity, and the higher the customer service levels, and the longer people stay with the organization. And, you know, this has been asked 135 countries 15 million times, it’s a pretty compelling argument that this is upside, you know, getting this right, you know, from productivity, not just from a safety point of view.

Lucy Brogden  18:47

Look, this huge upside Graeme. And I think, you know, the Productivity Commission, last year, released their report into the cost of mental health in the Australian economy, which was something that the the National Mental Health Commission really encouraged government to look at it and in the workplace alone, they estimated it to be around $17 billion. And, you know, if you’re running a business, that opportunity cost, and it is an opportunity cost is significant, because we know that mental ill health is generally speaking, preventable. So there are things we can do to prevent this. So for a workplace to be doing that is allowing that to happen when it’s doesn’t need to happen, is really in some respects, unforgiveable. And I think that’s the challenge we have with organizations is how best to do that and appreciate that cost. It’s but I think part of the difficulty in this Graeme is that often that cost is invisible, because it’s not a direct element on the bottom line, and maybe these are some of the things we need to do. I was actually speaking to the managing partner of a law firm. He came from an m&a and finance law background. So one would expect him to be reasonably numerade. And we were talking about the costs of absenteeism of turnover, etc. And he said, it’s not real money, though, is it?

Graeme Cowan  20:17

Yeah. Yeah.

Lucy Brogden  20:21

It’s really real money. And they’re really real people. Yeah. That was quite a disappointing attitude to say that, you know, the economic cost is eye wateringly high.

Graeme Cowan  20:33


Lucy Brogden  20:34

The human cost is really high, too.

Graeme Cowan  20:36

It is. And I’ve also asked just a number of leaders and also HR directors, what’s the cost of your absenteeism? And they don’t know, or certainly doesn’t come too rapidly, to your mind. And yet, you know, I saw that in the UK, they did an assessment of absenteeism. And they estimated that 40% of absenteeism was due to mental health issues. So just that alone is quite a quick way to get a measure on what’s happening in people’s organization and the tangible cost. So anyway. And I guess the other element is that most of the measures are behind the curve, and they they happen after the event. And one thing that, you know, I would like to see more of is real time measure of moods of real time measure of engagements. And I think one of the good things about COVID last year is the number organizations transition to doing pulse checks, you know, more regular pulse checks. And I really hope that continues, because it does keep, you know, hope you keep the finger on the pulse.

Lucy Brogden  21:45

Absolutely. Look, I think pulse checks have a really important place, and role to play. Where I struggle is where I see organizations starting to try and bring in more clinical instruments, and incorporating those into their pulse checks. And a friend of mine and great colleague, David Burrows, who does some work in this space says, you know, what will occur and I say, you know, if you’re doing clinical instruments on your staff, then you are bringing in a whole other level of responsibility in response to those issues. And so I think this is where, I’m quite passionate in saying, work with experts, because pulse checks are great to give you some of that lady shoe off, you know, trends going up and down. But, you know, it’s another step again, to start bringing clinical instruments into your workplace, and not being able to back that up.

Graeme Cowan  22:45

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And, you know, when you ask people what matters most it’s having a supportive conversation, it’s not diagnosing what’s going on. It’s saying, you know, I’m concerned about you, you know, can we find some help for you, that’s what matters most. And, you know, as Dave and yourself say that, it’s just ridiculous to try and use clinical tools and their environment. And I think it also takes away from the validity that this is about not just mental health, it’s about care and team and organizational performance, and it needs to cover that.

Lucy Brogden  23:21

Absolutely. And one of the things I try and say to people is, the greatest gift you can be to a colleague, is be what I’d call an emotional mirror. You know, when my husband John was in hospital, on one occasion, he said to me, Do you know, there’s this thing called self awareness to actually sit. I don’t seem to have any. And I think that’s perhaps why you’re now in this hospital, and you’re doing the work you’re doing. And I think it’s, again, as as kind of a funny story to illustrate a really important point. But it is often, particularly with mood disorders, which are going to be the issues most of us will encounter in the workplace, that people self awareness is one of the first things that might go. And so while you’re standing around the watercooler saying, Can you believe so and so was wearing the same clothes for three days? Can you believe so and so is late all the time

Graeme Cowan  24:24

hasn’t shaved?

Lucy Brogden  24:26

Yeah, whatever it might be, is not performing the same way. Yeah, it was always delivering great work, and now it’s slipping. Yeah. Now what perhaps so and so can’t say that perhaps your colleague can’t. And this is the point at which it’s really powerful to show that care by saying, yeah, whatever frame you like, but I like I noticed, I imagine I feel to actually notice. I noticed that you’ve been late, I noticed that you’re not engaging in the meetings in the same way. I noticed that you’re a little bit more irritable. Imagine there might be something going on. What can we do?

Graeme Cowan  25:06

And we will have that, you know, we’re not you What can we do?

Lucy Brogden  25:09

Yeah. And yeah, I’d like to help. What can we do? And so I think be the emotional mirror is the greatest gift. Because often you can put into words, some of the things that they are grappling with but can’t pull down to articulate and start that journey with someone. You don’t have to do the whole. You know, walk them all with them, but start the journey for them.

Graeme Cowan  25:38

Yeah, absolutely. All I just asked you about a couple of other things which I noticed in your bio, or you were involved, I think in CO founding both the Sydney Women’s Fund and Be Kind Sydney, what what are they and what what are they about?

Lucy Brogden  25:54

So both Sydney Women’s Fund and Be Kind Sydney are initiatives of the Sydney Community Foundation. A big part of my life is around service and service in the community. Sydney Women’s Fund is about funding and supporting programs to really helped women and girls in in the Greater Sydney Area, particularly around financial security, housing, participation and employment, etc. Be Kind Sydney is another initiative of the Sydney Community Foundation, which is really to be calling to one another. To support each other, we quickly mobilize to campaign last year when we saw that people were doing it really tough. And the government came in with some great initiatives around job seeker, job keeper. But there are awful lot of people living in our community that sit off the grid, and really need our support, and particularly last year, and so we try and find initiatives around food, housing, employment, to support some of those people.

Graeme Cowan  27:04

And in a previous conversation, you mentioned that you had called your daughter’s middle name, Mabank. And could you just explain why that name and why it’s so important to you?

Lucy Brogden  27:17

Sure. So it’s actually Maybank. And Maybank Anderson was an incredible woman in New South Wales and Australian history. And she really, she was part of the women’s suffrage movement. She started the KU Kindergarten movement. She started the first women’s newspaper a woman’s voice. She was very much about the Advent Advancement of Women, access to education, access to employment. And so the more I read about Maybank, I said to my husband, she was a resident of peat water, where we live up on the Northern Beaches. I said to my husband, if we’re ever blessed with a daughter, I want to give her Maybank as a name and so our daughter’s middle name is Maybank. And she lives up to the feistiness and strength of Maybank Anderson.

Graeme Cowan  28:16

Be careful what you wish for. You have a very busy role and your husband John, who is the CEO of Land Com now in New South Wales. What do you do for yourself care?

Lucy Brogden  28:30

Look, one of the greatest lessons I learned through all the issue of being a carer for my husband is that you can’t be a good carer, whether that’s a capital seeker Carer or small seek carer without practicing the golden rule of care and that self care, you know, put the oxygen mask on first. And for me, that was a lesson that took a while to really learn and appreciate and value but the place that I really get my sense of self care is through our local surf club at Bilgola. I’m a patrolling member. When our kids were younger, I was an age manager. I’ve rode in the surf boats, but it’s a place I can go and know I feel safe. Know I’ll have a laugh. I can do my exercise and really just replenish when I need to.

Graeme Cowan  29:22

And do you go every weekend or how often are you involved?

Lucy Brogden  29:27

So during the patrol season, which roughly goes from the October long weekend to ANZAC Day, so we’ve just finished we’re rostered on about every half a day every five weeks or so. But they have a fantastic gym with I think one of the best views in Sydney so I was down there this morning. I probably there a couple of times a week in the gym. We often go for a walk down there on a Sunday evening, John and I just to calm off the weekend and risk for the coming week, so it’s important for both of us.

Graeme Cowan  30:03

Yeah, wonderful. As you’re aware, I was involved, you know, in the beginning of Are you okay? and assume that grow enriching impact quite amazingly, actually. And I just was interested to hear your perspective about, you know, why do you think it’s cut through? Why do you think, you know, people do really get behind it?

Lucy Brogden  30:23

No, I think R U OK? is an absolute phenomenon. And it’s not just a phenomenon here in Australia, it’s taking on a global presence. And I think the key to it is the simplicity. It’s a bit like being that emotional mirror for people. And we often have a sense that you can’t ask someone you want to ask, but you can’t ask. And that simple permissioning of saying, not only can you ask, but please ask someone if they’re okay. is really powerful. And I think what we know from the evidence and the sciences, that actually people will generally if you ask them will generally answer honestly. It might be fine, fine, initially. But if you are truly asking them from a place of care, putting some framework around, I’m asking, Are you okay? Because I’ve noticed or whatever. And, you know, R U OK? publishes some great conversation starters, on their website, people will generally be relieved and answer you very honestly.

Graeme Cowan  31:33

Yeah. I think you’re exactly right there. And that was part of, you know, our founder, Kevin Larkins legacy was just I think the tagline the conversation could change a life includes everyone. It’s not just about mental health or suicide prevention. It’s an all encompassing thing. And I think that was part of the brilliance which remains to this day.

Lucy Brogden  31:56


Graeme Cowan  31:58

One of the important elements of asking, Are you okay, is encouraged people to take action? And we might say, you know, call your employee assistance program, call your GP call a psychologist. And because of the work, I’ve been involved with my personal experience, I’m often asked, you know, do you know, a psychiatrist in Brisbane, do you know, a psychologist in Adelaide? Can you recommend someone in the Western suburbs of Sydney. And this sort of highlights a real problem? In that, there’s a real difficulty, I think COVID has probably exaggerated this is, it’s can be very difficult to get a quick appointment with a psychiatrist, for example, you call the psychiatrists and they say, the books are closed to new patients or it’s gonna take, you know, three months before you can see them. And we know that the stress is I can speak about from firsthand experience, like, it just seems like a lifetime. It really does. So what do you think can be done about that? You know, we can’t suddenly have a whole lot more psychiatrists or a whole lot more psychologist. What can be done to shorten that time? Do you believe?

Lucy Brogden  33:10

That’s a very big question, Graeme. It is. So look, I’ll give perhaps some practical advice to people and then the bigger mental health reform kind of answer to try and keep it short. And, look, I get those questions from people too. And often, I say to them, your GPA is generally your best starting point. And I think if there’s one lesson around general health and well being I would say to young people, is try and find a GP and create a relationship with them when you’re well. When you’re relatively young, you know, if you haven’t got the family GP, go and try and find someone that you click within that relationship and start there. Because you never know when you might need to have a longer conversation about some of these issues, they’ll know you and be able to recommend a good fit. Because when people say to me, I need a psychologist or psychiatrists, like lawyers or accountants or any other professional, this horses for courses. And so it’s important, I think, if you can start that journey through a GP, maybe with some recommendations from friends and colleagues, but to get that clinical fit right as well as the report is very important. So try and start there. The waiting list issue is really significant. And if I put my Commissioner hat on, there’s a lot of things we’re looking at there. But equally we know the really beneficial and effective treatment, support that can come through digital or a mental health, interventions. And if you are struggling or between appointments you know Australia has an incredible service in the Mindspot service that’s free and available. And it’s an online support with people at the other end. And so if you’re stuck Mindspot can be a great starting point and a great place to hold you between appointments or until you can get started on that journey. Black Dog Institute is in Australia is one of the world leaders in developing a number of great apps, you know, they are the fact that we created moodgym, which is almost 20 years old, I think, but still going strong, just as effective. So, you know, often those tools can be very effective, they can be very effective between appointments or waiting to that first appointment. From a macro policy level, we have some real issues in Australia in looking at in our workforce, and we’ve got to grow that workforce. And we need to grow not just the psychiatrists and psychologists, but the allied health and RP workforce, peer workers can be very important in supporting someone on a journey. And mental health nurses are another important backbone of the system and can be a great resource in community mental health, in keeping people safe in starting and supporting a recovery journey, so we’ve got to grow the workforce, we’ve got to look at the structure of the workforce. And if this is getting too tedious for people, I bitter while back but one of the things we’re looking at and working with the clinicians on particularly is how do we push them up to work at the top of their scope of work at whether they’re particularly trained for build elements of the workforce for people at the more mild to moderate space that perhaps don’t need the intensive clinical support that someone with more significant psychosocial disability will need. That whole framing our thinking and policy direction at the moment?

Graeme Cowan  36:59

Yeah, I guess one of the good developments as well through COVID was being able to have video consultations and get ready You know, Medicare rebates for that it’s made a big difference, particularly for people in in country areas. You know, it’s just made this a wider possibility without having to drive for 10 hours to get to an appointment.

Lucy Brogden  37:19

Absolutely. And telehealth been extended through to the end of this year at this stage. So it is proving to be very successful. In the intense time of COVID last year, most of it was about 70/30 on telehealth platform. Now come back round to about 70% face to face 30%. telehealth. But you’re right sure people in our rural regional and remote communities. It’s been an absolute blessing.

Graeme Cowan  37:48

Yeah. It’s been a real pleasure catching up, Lucy just got a three more questions that I just like to ask you before we go and the first one is, Who would you like to have to dinner who has already passed away that you can have a chat with them and tap into their wisdom?

Lucy Brogden  38:10

So I think, as we’ve already discussed my bank and some would be at my dinner. But if I could add one more, it would be William Wilberforce. And if listeners are not familiar with William Wilberforce, he was a member in the British Parliament. And for about 20 years, he led the charge and persisted in getting the Abolition of Slavery Act through the British Parliament took 20 years. And the reason I admire him is that I have learned frustratingly disappointingly, but somewhat practically, that big reform, big social change can’t happen overnight. But you need to have patience and persistence and good grace to really bring communities along with that change. And I think, for me to be able to ask William Wilberforce, how he stuck the course would be a great opportunity.

Graeme Cowan  39:15

It’s a great example and I think it wasn’t the song Amazing Grace about you know, it was about that long track to, you know, getting freedom.

Lucy Brogden  39:26

That’s right.

Graeme Cowan  39:26

Yeah, yeah. Wonderful. What important lesson did you learn growing up in the country?

Lucy Brogden  39:35

Look, I think it’s interesting growing up in the country, but growing up in two families with service was really important part of the family’s identity and role in their communities. Both my grandfather’s were Mayors in their respective communities in their day. Their wives were both active Lady Mayoress’. My parents are very active in In a community and served on local government and in a range of NGOs and not for profits, and I think the big lesson that I learned and you see particularly out of country towns, is active participation in your community, and service within it as really something that’s got a huge protective factor. And a huge opportunity to really just get the most out of life.

Graeme Cowan  40:28

Yeah, I often reflect on growing up in the country as well. And it is different, it is different. And you know, I think I think the big thing is that everyone knows everyone, and said, there’s not many secrets. For better or worse. And the final question that Lucy, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Lucy Brogden  40:58

Look, if I was to speak to my 20 year old self, I just say strap in and enjoy the ride, it’s gonna be wild. But you know, you’re in for some amazing opportunities, and you’ll learn so much and meet amazing people. There’ll be the ups and downs of the roller coaster, but the buzz is absolutely worth it.

Graeme Cowan  41:20

Yeah, and as we’ve discussed before, I think we can often underestimate how the hardships can lead to meaning. And, you know, I think that would be very much the case in the work that you do and what I do as well.

Lucy Brogden  41:34

Yeah, I think, John, my John, out of politics always likes to quote richard nixon in that context. And he says that it’s only when you stood in the deepest valley, do you appreciate how beautiful it is to stand on the highest mountain. And I try not to say that with too much smugness, but I do think when you’ve been through some tough times, you get a personal insight that is quite special, there is a silver lining in most dark clouds.

Graeme Cowan  42:03

It’s just a wonderful chance to catch up Lucy, you’ve touched so much on the self care how you’d like to see the culture of care change your organization’s your passion, also for women advocacy and greater involvement in leadership. And I think we need to do it again, when you know, when there’s something I know that there’s some interesting developments that you’re working on at the moment that could be relevant in a few years time or something like that. So it might be good to catch up then.

Lucy Brogden  42:35

Be fantastic. Thanks, Graeme.

Graeme Cowan  42:37

My pleasure.

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