As we walked into our day at Epworth, we may have been mistaken
in thinking we were walking into the Hyatt. The hospital is a 5
star hospital with a grand entrance and situated on vast green land
next to Deakin University.
Our first speaker for the day was Susie Thomas, Business
Development and Marketing Manager from Epworth Geelong. She
provided an interesting overview of the hospital, the growing
Geelong region and the ageing community. The Epworth group sees
2,000 patients from the Geelong region in their Melbourne hospitals
so the Epworth in Geelong will provide a much needed
The current building is only Phase 1, with 3 more phases
Next we heard from Professor Frances Quirk, Director of Research
at Barwon Health. As University Hospital is a teaching hospital,
the aspiration is that every patient should come in contact with
research and/or teaching. Barwon Health have 600-700 active
research programs at any one time and are interested in using
consumers as 'scientists' in a number of their research programs
going forward. Interestingly, the Barwon Infant Study has resulted
in a bio-bank; a valuable data asset that has interest from Europe
and other parts of the world.
Malcom Scott, Manager at Head Space Geelong, spoke to us around
youth mental health and psychiatric care in Geelong. Some of the
statistics were alarming, particularly those who identify as
LGBTIQ. The concern from a health care perspective is that there is
too much funding at a Tier 4 level (inpatient psychiatric) and not
enough at Tier 1, which is more preliminary health care for mental
Finally, we heard from Luke McLean, Health & Wellbeing
Manager for the Cotton On Group. Many of us had heard about some of
the fabulous employee perks of working at Cotton On; however, this
session gave us an opportunity to understand the ethos behind what
they do. At Cotton On, they have a top down culture of wellness.
Their 'why' is that they want to grow happy and healthy people.
They do this through programs such as onsite gym, bring your dog to
work and flexible work hours (some from a long list!). They don't
measure the success of their Health & Wellbeing Program through
personal leave days etc but rather through participation levels in
the planned activities and whether the company is performing well.
It was an interesting philosophy that sparked discussion within the
Finally, our syndicate ended on an activity that encouraged our
group to think about how we prioritise our own health and
wellbeing, with the aim of motivating us to make some small changes
to improve our own wellness.