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Meet Lesley Brown, our placement student

In March this year, we welcomed our Masters placement student Lesley to the centre.

From left to right: Associate Professor Patrick Dunlop, Lesley Brown, Dr Anu Jolly and Dr Cheryl Yam

Lesley is studying a master's degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

Together with our Research Fellows Dr Anu Jolly and Dr Cheryl Yam, Lesley has made some valuable contributions to the Design for Care project, a collaborative research project with University of Sydney and Monash University with the aim of creating mentally healthy workplaces in Health Care and Social Assistance Industry.

We asked Lesley a few questions about her experience.

⭐️Tell me a bit about yourself?

I'm a mature-aged student who has been working in mining for the past 13 years. My passion for psychology was sparked during my career at Rio Tinto where I worked in training on how we would maintain competency for mainline drivers once Autohaul became live. I became fascinated with the human factors of training in high-risk environments with simulators and how knowledge of evidence-based practice is essential is for building solid business cases for capital spend. I was encouraged to begin my journey into psychology in 2014 when my workplace sponsored my BA. I remember hearing at that time about UWAs Master of IO Psychology program and thinking "wow, that would be incredible!"... and here I am!

In my personal life, I'm a FIFO wife, pug-mum, and step-mum to a 12-year daughter who I absolutely adore. We are renovating our 1950's home from top to bottom, love escaping in our caravan, and I'm a keen scuba diver which happens far less than I'd like - hoping graduation brings more time for fun in the sea!

⭐️What did you do at CTWD?

I worked mostly with Anu Jolly and Cheryl Yam on the Design for Care project by contributing to the broader research by conducting a review into current known contextual factors, challenges, and recommendations for work design in both the aged care and disability sectors. As a result, I gained a deeper understanding of the SMART framework and evidence-based work design interventions for psychosocial risk. I also had the opportunity to draw on my training knowledge to make recommendations for the SMART online training in development and also for effective SMART action planning workshop facilitation.

⭐️ How did you find the placement experience?

Loved it. Being in one industry for so long insulates you from the other opportunities and experiences out there and I really wanted to understand applied research here with the greats at FOWI/CTWD! Anu and Cheryl were incredibly warm and welcoming from day one. Both were wonderfully thoughtful in ensuring accessibility and inclusivity for my hearing loss. They also trusted my instincts and engaged with my insights all while pushing me to explore psychosocial hazards and risks in an industry I had no prior experience or knowledge in.

⭐️What does the future of work look like to you?

The working world is changing rapidly, and the pandemic has only accelerated these changes. What I've witnessed in the mining industry over the 10 years is a welcome shift from mitigating mental illness towards prevention. The new WHS legislative compliance factors coupled with excessive job demands being experienced right now (across many industries ) means senior leaders are now seeking to improve work design through evidenced-based frameworks like SMART. As a result, I strongly believe the connection between transformational leadership at mid-management with psychosocial harm prevention and intervention at the coal face will be very topical for some time to come. What I'd love to see emerge is a continued focus on reform at the antecedent and higher-level influence levels such as governance policy and funding with prevention of psychosocial harm in mind.

⭐️If you were a book or a movie, what would it be?

Frankly I can't say a book as I have 10 books in a pile on my bedside, all on the go at once! I also I think the world today needs more comedy than drama, so I'll say a movie with quick wit that brings on a fit of giggles.

⭐️One thing not many people know about you?

I was a high school dropout! At the age of 16 I returned from living in the US mid-year 10 and although I excelled in the US system, the course content in each country was incredibly mismatched, so due to frustration I dropped out and went to work. Looking back, I had so much potential but really lacked quality mentors in both my school and life. While completing my masters, the growth in professional identity from prac placements with amazing support from an array of supervisors and peers really just underscores how invaluable quality mentorship is at any age or stage - even late academic bloomers like me!🙂

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