Local government CEOs across the State of Western Australia are facing unprecedented levels of work-related stress. This report documents, their previously hidden afflictions. Using a multimethod approach to data collection, the authors employed inductive focus groups, abductive in-depth qualitative interviews and deductive quantitative survey research to shine an important light not only on the extent of their distress, but also on the relevant antecedents and effects.
- CEOs in Western Australia are suffering from psychosocial distress at nearly three times the national average of the general population.
- Their high levels of work-related stress exceeded those found in traditionally ‘dangerous’ professions like mining, construction, police and emergency services.
- Much of this stress is attributable to strained interpersonal relationships with elected members as well as hostile ratepayers/ ratepayers’ associations, with overt and subtle bullying, harassment and intimidation of CEOs and, in some instances, their families, evident in Shires, Towns and Cities across the State.
- Key protective factors include, but are not limited to: individual resilience, physical activity, job autonomy and social support networks.
- Mandatory training and development for elected members.
- Involvement of professional consultants in council decision-making.
- Increase opportunities for training and development of CEOs.
- Urgently afford CEOs the health and safety protections they deserve.
- Urgently reform the complaints procedures for ratepayers.
- Cut red tape.
- Interventions to improve elected member – CEO collaboration.
- Enhance CEO connectedness
- Increase resources to enable implementation of the above recommendations.