A registered charity, The Xfactor Collective Foundation has a focus on the mental health and wellbeing of social sector professionals and volunteers.

This includes promoting the prevention of and reducing the incidence of mental health illness in the social sector.

Why does this matter?

In 2020, we undertook 2 research studies - the RESET 2020 National Impact + Need Research Study. This was the first time Australian social sector workers were asked about their mental health and wellbeing. The results were concerning:

  • 45% of respondents often or always felt stressed or anxious, and
  • 41% felt frustrated, cynical or exhausted.

This data was a wake up call and provided part of the evidence base for our response.

Mental health illness in the Social Sector shows up as:

  • Compassion Fatigue (stress related mental injury)
  • Vicarious Trauma
  • Frontline Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 

Working in the Social Sector is exacerbated by:

  • Funding uncertainty
  • Lack of resources to support trauma-informed workplaces and leadership
  • Inability to build financial reserves (40% of organisations had less than six months of financial reserves at September 2020, RESET 2020)
  • Workforce and talent shortages
  • High rates of employee turnover
  • Impact of rolling natural disasters and pandemic
  • Impact of economic uncertainty
  • Frontline exposure to confronting issues such as homelessness, family violence, climate change and disasters

Implications for the Social Sector are:

  • Absenteeism
  • Burnout Prevention Leave
  • Mental Health Injury
  • Mental Health Injury Claims
  • Inability to support beneficiaries
  • Inability to support communities in need
  • Reduced social impact

RESET 2020 Burnout Index How often did you feel

Preventing mental health injury in the sector is more than a ‘self care’ issue

Many international social sectors have taken steps to provide resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of their people. This is lacking in Australia, and we would like to change that.

In our RESET 2020 program, 80% of respondents said they believed that pre-existing sector constraints (pre COVID) were exacerbating the impacts on mental health/wellbeing.

This shows that mental health injury has been an issue in the social sector well before the COVID pandemic, and draws our attention to the opportunity to address it.

We are living in unprecedented times; and the social / environmental sector is at the front line.

Despite these challenges, very few social sector professionals leave the sector - the issue has not subsided, but merely become culturally acceptable.

In being so focussed on our beneficiaries, the sector has lagged in responding to its own resilience and mental wellbeing. This poses a threat for our sector’s sustainability, and its capability to address challenges and disasters.

Resourcing the people in our charitable / social sector now will positively affect future generations.

What's our strategy?

The Foundation will achieve its mission to improve mental health for organisations and individuals in the social sector by:

  • Building a Wellbeing, Mental Health and Resilience Resource Hub that provides priority tools, resources and support to all social sector contributors, regardless of their size and resources.
  • Advocating to make sector needs visible and providing advice about structural solutions
  • Promoting good mental health practices and harm reduction strategies via awareness campaigns with content and outreach partners
  • Measuring outcomes through a survey instrument and wellbeing index, and ensuring our response is guided by global best practice

What have we done so far?

We have identified the gap and need via the RESET 2020 program, supported by Equity Trustees.

We have promoted the findings widely in the sector via webinars and forums and spoken with 20+ sector and peak bodies to seek their input about a strategy to address the need.

This work over 2020 and 2021 has shaped our Foundation 2025 Strategy.

Partner with us

Supporting the mental wellbeing and resilience of the social sector is a proactive way to take care of the people and organisations that take care of us.

It makes sense to back the people that show up everyday across all causes and geographies. We think it is a sensible act to safeguard our sector and this requires tools for leaders and staff from prevention to crisis.

If you feel drawn to this purpose, please reach out and talk to us about becoming a partner.

This could be a corporate, philanthropic or government partner - with a shared aim of a well and resilient social sector.

It would be great to connect with you.


To find out more, please reach out to Special Projects and Partnerships Manager, Annette Herschtal at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Subscribe below to stay in touch

Please enable the javascript to submit this form

David Crosbie, CEO
Community Council of Australia

"As someone who has been a CEO in the charities sector for over 30 years, and CEO of CCA for 10 years, I know firsthand the pre-existing systematic challenges, and indeed new challenges, that are impacting our sector and its people. These challenges directly impact organisational and individual wellbeing and resilience. We have previously been involved promoting the value of The Xfactor Collective Foundation’s collaborations to our members and the broader charities sector. At CCA we have drawn on the RESET 2020 data and know that the findings it provided provoked many positive conversations both within charities and beyond.”

Jodi Kennedy, GM Trusts & Philanthropy, Equity Trustees

The RESET 2020 initiative was an innovative and collaborative COVID sector response. The theory of change was based on ‘change through collaboration’ and has been widely hailed as a flagship project that supported, enabled and influenced policymakers, organisation leaders and grantmakers alike during an unprecedented year of turbulence. 

"The Foundation 2025 Strategy will ensure that the wellbeing focus of the 1.2 million employees and 3-4 million volunteers in the sector are not overlooked by the needs of our beneficiaries. The RESET 2020 research showed us that we need to prioritise the systemic causes of burnout in the sector.”

Sarah Davies, Foundation Chair,
Former CEO of Philanthropy Australia

"I am proud to be inaugural Chair of The Xfactor Collective Foundation which is working collaboratively with sector partners to address the very complex, and urgent issue of social sector burnout.

It is no longer acceptable – indeed, the elephant in the room – that social sector organisations, their staff and volunteers are on a perpetual mental health rollercoaster. There is much we can do to improve mental health wellbeing, and in turn, improve social and community outcomes."


We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters and their knowledge of the places where we gather to collaborate and strengthen communities. In our work, we recognise the importance of Country, not just as a place, but how it also maintains community, family, kin, lore and langage.

We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

This always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.

We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

ALIGNED WITH AND SUPPORTING THE sdgs logo horizontal white