Supporting an inclusive workplace in difficult times

At DCA, we express our ongoing solidarity with First Nations Australians, as we acknowledge the outcome of the Voice to Parliament referendum with enormous disappointment. Please see our statement and some helpful resources. 

Supporting an inclusive workplace during difficult times

Employers are increasingly faced with situations where they need to communicate with employees and the public about difficult national or world events. Open communication, compassion and empathy are key to employee wellbeing and can go a long way to supporting a more inclusive workplace culture

Here are some guiding principles to support an inclusive workplace during difficult times:

  • Avoid remaining silent: remaining silent during difficult events can negatively impact employee wellbeing. It’s best to acknowledge the situation, express concern and offer support.

    While on occasions your organisation may want to take a specific stance, it is always important to acknowledge suffering on all fronts and condemn human rights abuses. Consider whether staying neutral is an inclusive approach, or if it might make people feel marginalised. 

  • Empathise and acknowledge suffering: It is important to show humanity and acknowledge suffering. Demonstrate a genuine understanding of the emotional toll such events can have on wellbeing. Allow space for people to discuss the issue should they choose to.

    Heartfelt thoughts can be extended to any colleagues and their families directly affected, and to communities more broadly.

  • Centre lived experience: It’s important to listen to those directly affected and follow their cues. Avoid adding to the cultural load of employees. Consider consulting with lived experience advisory panels or external organisations for helpful insights. 

  • Keep employee safety and wellbeing top of mind: Being exposed to images and stories of conflict, violence or traumatic events in the media can negatively impact our mental health and wellbeing. Focus on messages to reinforce the importance of self-care and strategies to reduce anxiety, as well as support services available (see next point).

  • Provide support: Whether it is your employee assistance program or other mental health services, it is important to remind people of the range of supports available to them. 

  • Encourage respectful conversations: Some issues have the potential to be divisive. Encourage people to respect each other’s views and differences of opinion and be considerate, thoughtful, and respectful. Sometimes it can be an opportunity to educate yourself on an issue more. Do not tolerate racism.

DCA offers a range of research and resources which may be useful, depending on the nature of the event:

Please note, DCA’s research has been developed for the Australian context, and it is important to note that the context for global issues may be different.

Support services

13 92 76   

Brother to brother 24-hour crisis line  
1800 435 799  

Beyond Blue   
1300 224 636   

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health  
02 6285 3100


13 11 14    

MensLine Australia   
1300 789 978  

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling  
1800 011 046 


1800 184 527  

135 247   

Suicide Call Back Service   
1300 659 467 

If you need an interpreter to help speak with any of the above services, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450.  

If you do not feel like you can use these services listed above for any reason, you can also talk to someone you trust, visit a hospital emergency department, or contact a health professional (GP, counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist).