Finding ways to better understand the working lives of Australian principals and how this impacts their health and wellbeing is the impetus behind, School Principals' Health & Wellbeing: What Makes A Positive Difference?, a research study conducted by the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (IPPE) at Australian Catholic University (ACU).
Over the five years since its inception in 2011, Associate Professor, Dr Phil Riley, and a team of researchers at ACU have gathered information relating to the occupational health, safety and wellbeing of principals and schools leaders across the country.
Approximately 40 percent of Australia's 10,000 principals, deputy principals, assistant and vice-principals have already participated, many multiple times; 13.3 percent of those are from Catholic schools and colleges.
"This research is about improving the mental health and wellbeing of school principals," says Dr Riley.
"At the top level it provides us with a picture of the current state of Principals' health, which can be used to educate organisations, bodies and policy makers about the impacts of changes and initiatives within the sector."
"For the individual respondent, the study enables them to track their work-related health and wellbeing over time, providing an personalised report each time they complete the survey."
Data already gathered shows upwards trends in Principals experiencing offensive behaviour, violence, bullying and threats. It also provides insights into how the increasing complexity and workload demands of those in school leadership roles are impacting their commitment, relationships and job satisfaction, amongst many other things.
CCI's decision to collaborate with ACU comes from a deep concern over what it sees as unsustainable rates of psychological strain currently being experienced in the profession.
"We believe cultivating the wellbeing of principals will enable the system as a whole to thrive," says CCI CEO, Roberto Scenna.
"As the largest insurer of Catholic schools and colleges we are highly committed to working with ACU to ensure the success of this project and fully support the aims and research objectives."
"We hope that through this work we can understand how to better help principals and teachers facing the increased pressures and ambiguities of their roles, and work with them in new and innovative ways." says Mr Scenna
CCI will sponsor the study over three years which will contribute to the remuneration of professional staff. CCI will also match this contribution with 'in-kind' support to IPPE through direct involvement and support from various divisions within the company.
This study is jointly funded by various research partners, including CCI.
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