Rise of Mental Health Conditions and Impact on Employer Engagement in Employment Programs

An increasing proportion of working and unemployed adults have mental health conditions (MHC).
Although mental health awareness is increasing in our community, employer attitudes, especially around recruitment and selection processes, are not keeping up — making it difficult for MHC participants to enter and stay in the labour force.

Thankfully, action is being taken in Australia to address this divergence. In this session, Jo Ingold and Paul Diviny will demonstrate that good employer engagement by labour market intermediaries (such as employment services providers) is critical to the employment of people with MHC.

They will explore the role of government commissioned programs and best practice employer engagement strategies for providers with MHC participants. Additionally, they’ll suggest there’s a key role for the involvement of organisations led by people with disabilities in the delivery of disability employment programs.

The session will conclude with recommendations for the next DES contract to address the longer-term needs of MHC participants.


Jo Ingold Associate Professor, Dept of Management, Faculty of Business & Law, Deakin University, Australia

Jo Ingold is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Deakin Business School. She has spent two decades working in the area of employability and skills services, including in central government in the UK and in the non-profit sector. Her academic research focuses on employability and skills programs (particularly employer engagement), and the workplace inclusion of under-served labour market groups (specifically people with disabilities).
Jo has been awarded a number of UK research council grants and is a co-investigator on a COVID Rapid Response project — Welfare at a (Social) Distance. She is currently evaluating a number of employment programs in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
Jo has published academic articles in a range of top-ranked academic journals. She is a member of the Deakin Centre for Refugee Advocacy, Employment, Training and Education (CREATE), which focuses on supporting people with a refugee background into meaningful employment.
She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals, a Certified Australian Human Resource Institute practitioner, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Jo co-chairs the UK Employment Related Services Association’s Employer Engagement Forum. She is currently an Editor of the academic journal, Work, Employment and Society.

Paul Diviny Director, Prospert, Australia

Paul Diviny is the founding Director of Prospert, an international learning, consulting and tendering management business with a focus on employability services. Commencing in 2020, Paul’s team has grown to 25 staff across a range of disciplines. He previously worked as a General Manager of Business Development at The Salvation Army Employment Plus (Australia) and Angus Knight Group.

Paul also works in a voluntary capacity for his local bowls club and has held President and Treasury roles in school-based family associations in the recent past.

Since commencing his business in 2020, Paul has directly helped over 1,000 employability professionals in learning the art of effective employer and community engagement. His and his team’s advice is sought out by boards and senior executives in such as areas as strategic growth, tendering strategy and execution, learning and development, operations management, strategic and business planning, program management and organisation design.

As both a General Manager and an employer engagement mentor, Paul has provided coaching and mentoring to frontline employability staff and their line managers. He helped them master employer engagement and showed them how to grow sustainable employment as well as strong, trustworthy bonds with employers.

With strong social justice values, Paul is particularly passionate about transforming lives, businesses and communities — one job at a time. His team share his passion and this infuses everything they do.

Paul is a lifetime supporter of the Geelong Football Club and has a wife and three children.