Partway through June, COVID-19 restrictions have eased somewhat. Australians are able to connect with friends and family in small groups and many businesses are re-opening and getting back to work under the Federal Government’s COVIDSafe plan.
A return to something like ‘normal’ is sure to come as a relief to many, but there’s still long road ahead of us. As we work together towards a brighter future post-COVID-19, health and wellbeing is now top of mind for many Australians. But what does wellbeing really mean for us?
“Wellbeing – it’s a joyous state of emotional, physical and intellectual being that creates a calm confidence no matter the external chaos that surrounds you. It comes from knowing yourself and making conscious choices that align with your values, purpose and goals,” explained Suzy Jacobs, the driving force behind online learning hub for business owners and leaders, Activator Academy.
It’s important to build a sense of wellbeing into everyday life, and this is perhaps especially true for the tax community, who have not only had to overcome the personal challenges of COVID-19, but are also at the forefront of shaping a new economic landscape.
Focus on wellbeing: why now?
The Australian Government’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Dr Ruth Vine, recently acknowledged that while social distancing measures have been successful, for some, they’ve come with the unfortunate side effects of “isolation, loneliness and anxiety.”
On top of that, we’re aware that our members and other tax practitioners are shouldering an enormous burden, as they help businesses and individuals navigate a rapidly shifting economy. Untangling new legislation and supporting clients to get into the Cash Flow Boost and JobKeeper schemes, all while managing your own bottom line - it’s no easy feat.
“The next few months are going to be a test of our resilience, as the last few months have been,” said The Tax Institute’s President, Peter Godber.
“This situation is shaping up to be a marathon, not a sprint, and as a profession, we need to pace ourselves. We need to ensure our own wellbeing and that of our clients, first and foremost.”
Embracing a focus on wellbeing before you reach a crisis point and designing your working life to incorporate healthy wellbeing practices, can help you remain happy, healthy and productive.
And although tax practitioners may be more accustomed to seeking guidance on legislation and policy than on coping with stress or anxiety, The Tax Institute is urging our community not to overlook this important part of their professional lives.
“We are dealing with a situation that we have never dealt with before. You may find yourself needing help and support you’ve never needed before. That can be very unsettling, but know this: if you are struggling, it is not only okay to ask for help, it is vital,” Peter added.
What we are doing to help
Whether you’re a wellbeing aficionado or finding yourself needing a helping hand for the first time, The Tax Institute is taking steps to enable the wellbeing of tax practitioners around the country.
Your wellbeing during COVID-19
Alongside our popular COVID-19 Stimulus Package Webinar series, giving practitioners practical insights and guidance to new legislation, we recently launched a three part, member-only webinar series focusing on Health and Wellbeing.
The response from our community was enthusiastic – all three sessions reached maximum capacity less than 24 hours after launching. To further support our members, we've added dates to make these sessions available once more.
Part 1: It’s a matter of choice – life through a new lens, is presented by Suzy Jacobs and aims to increase attendees confidence in their decision-making. Practitioners will learn how to transition from busy, to a state of calm, empowered productivity. Register for this session on 3 July 2020.
In Part 2: Upside of stress, Sue Langley, Founder and CEO of Langley Group and a leading global expert in the fields of positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and neuroscience, gives attendees the tools to change how they think about stress to develop a happier, healthier, and more productive mindset. Register for this session on 6 July 2020.
The third instalment in our Health and Wellbeing Webinar Series, Part 3: Looking after the wellbeing of your clients and staff, equips tax practitioners with wellbeing knowledge and tools to support others. Lead by trained Psychiatrist and Australian-based health professional, Dr Mary-Ellen O’Hare, this session covers warning signs to look out for, relevant research and trends, and solutions for wellbeing. Register for this session on 9 July 2020.
It’s clear this topic is important to our members, so watch this space – we’re working to make further health and wellbeing resources available to you soon.
At The Tax Institute we believe that the way to ensure tax practitioners get the support they need is to work together across the whole tax community.
“Support for the wellbeing of tax practitioners is vital and needs to extend beyond technical guidance. It needs to include relief, compassion and recognition from stakeholders in our tax system,” Peter said.
Recently, The Tax Institute urged the ATO to make mental health resources already available to small businesses available to tax professionals as well – which they have done. The Tax Practitioners' Board has also temporarily allowed some health and wellbeing activities, such as attending webinars on managing stress and self-care, to count towards CPE hours.
And we continue to lead the way in advocating for much needed relief and support for our professional community, including numerous Joint Bodies submissions on issues including lodgement deferrals and penalty waivers.
“It’s incredibly tough to be a tax professional right now. The Tax Institute is working for our members and the broader tax profession to try and have some of the pressure points relieved,” Peter said.
We are here for our members in any way we can be – please reach out if we can offer you further support or assistance. Or, visit our Economic Stimulus hub for more information on our advocacy efforts and more links to mental health and support resources.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling please seek professional help immediately.