Sarah Harris Long

A Mental Health and Wellbeing Specialist

Q: Where are you based?

A: Brisbane based,  however service global operations

Q: Can you explain what your role entails?

A: Develop and Deliver Fitness for Work Programs, strategy development and systems specialising in Mental Health, Fatigue Management, Behavioural Safety, and Wellbeing to Occupational Health. My role is varied and comprehensive, no two days are ever the same. I cover anything from case management,  return to work,  health and hygiene,  to development of H&S strategies and risk mitigation programs to support human performance via analysis, reporting, education and training for leaders, employees and peer support. Sometimes I’m involved in research programs Including working in Inclusion and Diversity and Transformational Change due to the psychological impacts of these areas.   It’s exciting and can be hard to explain as it’s quite non-conventional yet extremely rewarding.


Q: What sparked your interest to work in the resources sector?

A: An opportunity presented itself. I was working previously in another industry and I was approached to consider a role in mining.  I was delighted to see all the great opportunities for women.  I also wanted a change, to learn new skills and literally, this is where the adventure began and it hasn’t stopped. I’ve experienced immense growth and amazing opportunities as a result of working in the resources sector.


Q: Was there someone/something that inspired you to pursue your current career?

A: Yes, indirectly and directly. My family has worked in health services for many years and they also have a history of working in the resources sector.  Although there were never any expectations to follow in their footsteps, I believe they were early influences. My mother was one of the first PNG registered Nurses and her brother, my uncle, is the District Health Commissioner of the Eastern Highlands, with other family members working in the community.  I think this is perhaps where it may have begun.  My family have always been supportive and I draw inspiration from them and those around me. I want to demonstrate to my children that anything is possible and to follow your passion. I was fortunate to have an opportunity in Rio Tinto Health and Safety where I had wonderful leaders mentor me and colleagues encourage me to continue this path. The GM of Health and Safety at the time, Mr Rory Gordon was the catalyst of my career in H&S along with several integral leaders that believed in me and supported me and still do.   It really has been a collaboration of many people’s support.  I’m so grateful as no person is an Island. You do need the advocacy of others as well as your own hard work.  Helping people and Health has always been a passion.  I’ve been drawn to my purpose and it’s extraordinary that I get to fulfil my passion in an industry that supports this.


Q: Can you explain the pathway you took to your current job?

A: I realised that building strong technical experience coupled with tertiary education is vital and ensured a pathway to improved opportunities. Start with the basics and build upon this. I’ve also involved myself in external opportunities to further develop my skills. Be a sponge and throw yourself into every learning and development opportunity whether it’s a course, a research program, a new task/ project or a new technology.  Align yourself with people who know and demand more as you will grow from these experiences. Never stop learning and pushing boundaries for innovation as this is invaluable to your own personal resilience and career development.


Q: What challenges do you face in your job?

A: For me, it’s time management and setting boundaries for myself. Because I love what I do I tend to throw myself into my work. H&S in my experience in the resource sector is not a 9-5 job, it’s based on people and ensuring their health and safety is a priority.


Q: What do you enjoy about your job?

A: Many things. The variety is great. Hands down, helping people. Seeing them emerge as resilient and thriving is what gives me purpose. I also love strategy development, I’m quite innovative so creating a program or a solution and implementing it is extremely rewarding. I’m also a bit of a science geek so enjoy being involved in research programs and new technology in risk mitigation and human performance.


Q: What has been your experience being a female employed in the resources sector?

A: Overall quite positive, I’ve been quite fortunate to have had strong and supportive relationships with excellent development opportunities.    Some areas have been challenging but not because it’s the resources sector.  I think where ever you go you will face some form of adversity. You need to ensure you are well supported, have positive wellbeing strategies in place and  be solution focussed. Draw upon your own belief that you will and can overcome these challenges. They are only temporary and you will survive and thrive.


Q: If there was one key message that you would leave with students considering a career in the resources sector, what would it be?

A: The resources sector offers many amazing opportunities to find and live your passion. It’s an adventure with purpose, not just a career.

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