Workforce Mutuality

Workforce Mutuality Project


Footscray marketIn 2016, members of HealthWest Partnership raised concerns that the diversity of the community in the West was not being reflected enough in the health and community sector workforce. There is a lot of evidence that shows when the workforce of the health and community sector is in synch with diversity of the community it services, many health indicators go up.

At HealthWest we are using the concept of workforce mutuality to describe

the extent to which the diversity of the workforce of an organisation or a sector reflects the actual diversity of the community.

The term “workforce mutuality” has been specifically chosen to be inclusive of a whole range of aspects of people’s diversity: cultural and linguistic, gender, sexual, ability and so on.

A health and community workforce with high mutuality increases the effectiveness of organisations to support consumers from diverse backgrounds, while improving the social determinants of health by creating new employment pathways and greater engagement with community. Workforce mutuality is therefore mutually reinforcing for both the community and for health and community organisations.

The diversity of the health and community services organisations in Melbourne’s west falls short of the actual diversity of the community. HealthWest Partnership has therefore identified increasing the workforce mutuality of our membership as a key priority in our Strategic Plan 2017-19.

Watch this video introducing Workforce Mutuality

Why does workforce diversity matter? Better access and delivery of services, increased satisfaction for consumers, better health outcomes, more jobs for everyone – these are just some of the benefits members of the Workforce Mutuality Expert Advisory Panel describe when our workforce better matches the diversity of the community.


Since this priority was agreed on by members of HealthWest Partnership,  HealthWest has been working on a set of Standards designed to support our member organisations – and any other organisations that are interested – in building more inclusive employment pathways with the community, and in making their services more responsive to the needs of a hugely diverse community.

In May 2018 we launched the HealthWest Partnership Standards for Workforce Mutuality at the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria’s state conference. The Standards were developed with the support of an Expert Advisory Panel made up of HealthWest member organisations and peak bodies across the health, community, employment, higher education and corporate sectors. Beginning in July 2018 we have been trialling the Standards with a group of five piloting organisations including Bolton Clarke, cohealth, commUnity+, IPC Health and Tweddle Child and Family Health Service. The pilot phase of the Standards will be complete by the end of 2018, and will inform the next steps that HealthWest takes in the space of workforce mutuality in Melbourne’s west.

More info: Curious about workforce mutuality? Martin Plowman shares a little of his background and his passion and explains why the term “workforce mutuality” was coined in this interview – Talking about diversity, mutuality and health.

For more updates on the Workforce Mutuality project and other news from HealthWest Partnership, follow us on Facebook or Twitter #workforcemutuality


Download a free copy of The HealthWest Partnership Standards for Workforce Mutuality here.

Please read our Position Statement on Workforce Mutuality here.


Dr Martin Plowman, Workforce Mutuality Project Officer.

Phone 9248 9664 or