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Supporting Small to Medium Enterprise advisors and their business owner clients towards better mental health

A training and research program from Deakin Business School. It’s all about giving business advisers skills in building trust and confidence to support their small business clients through mentally difficult moments and decisions. And it’s free.

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What you get out of the Counting on U Training Program

You will develop the confidence to help your clients in financial and emotional distress. You will know what to say and how to say it. You will be able to transfer these skills towards your own self-care whilst also supporting your team and colleagues. 

We’ve recently been announced as a finalist of the prestigious AFR Higher Education Awards – Industry Engagement! Find out more about the Awards here.


Identify the signs

You will be able to recognise the signs when clients are reaching that point of needing help. You will know what to do.

Learn new skills

You will develop the confidence to help your clients in financial and emotional distress with skills that support them.

CPD Points

Some of our partner associations provide CPD points once you have completed the training and surveys. The training provides valuable skills that should be part of everyone’s professional development.


To better understand how this program benefits Australian Business we have a research component that also partly funds this program. 


Have you heard of Beyond Blue? Lifeline? There are a number of aligned organisations that offer different types of support to people, businesses, and organisations.  


Our client relationship building module is a core part of the program. The best advisers are those who know how to build rapport with their clients. This skill takes advisers from performing mere transactional services to forging relationships, the backbone of every good business.

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is the foundation course of the Counting on U experience. Mental health, like general health must be cared for. This training helps identify what to say, how to say it and what the signs are. 

Our Mission & Vision

Counting on U 

Our program aims to upskill trusted advisers to better support the financial and mental health needs of small to medium business owners.  Beyond the program we seek to help Australian and New Zealand businesses to be better equipped to navigate challenging times and to provide more support for people who are challenged by conditions beyond their control.  

Professor Andrew Noblet

The thinking behind Counting on U

A research and training program from Deakin Business School

Our Partners

We are most grateful to our partner organisations: Those that funded our project, the professional membership associations who have shown a genuine understanding of the need for this sort of training, and our training associates who partner with us to roll-out the program to participants in Australia and New Zealand.



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The Australian Government’s BusinessBalance initiative provides $7 million to support the mental and financial wellbeing of small businesses through the COVID-19 recovery phase. As part of this initiative, funding of $2.2 million has been allocated to build the mental health literacy of trusted business advisers through the Counting on U program delivered by Deakin University. BusinessBalance will support small business owners take proactive steps to improve their mental health.

The BusinessBalance initiative is supported by the Australian Treasury. The Small and Family Business Division within the Australian Treasury works collaboratively across government and the small business community to ensure that the needs of small businesses are considered in policy and program development and implementation.

The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) is the largest bookkeeping institute in Australia. It promotes and maintains the standards of bookkeeping as a profession, through the establishment of a series of relevant qualifications and the award of grades of membership that recognise academic attainment, working experience and competence.

ICB brings certainty to the developing bookkeeping profession. Accountants, business and government look for a structure to understand bookkeeping and the competence of bookkeepers. They accredit, assists and informs bookkeepers and the community, thereby increasing the structure and definition of the profession. ICB is a member based, not for profit, professional association: bookkeepers helping bookkeepers.

A Professional Bookkeeper today does much more than ‘keep the books.’  They also help design business systems and processes, supports technology infrastructures, supports HR & IR needs and much more.  Above everything else, a professional bookkeeper is:

  • Experienced – has independent verification
  • Educated – committed to continuing professional development
  • Endorsed – a member of a professional body and committed to the requirements of that membership.


Beyond Blue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in Australia. We provide information and support to help everyone achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. We work to give everyone in Australia the confidence to speak openly about anxiety, depression and suicide – both to seek support when they need it and to check in with those close to them – and we tackle prejudice and discrimination wherever they exist. Beyond Blue’s tools, resources and services create mentally healthy environments. Through our dedicated programs, we support schools, universities, workplaces and community organisations to protect and promote good mental health. 

The IPA is an Australian Accounting body and is a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board.

The IPA has a passion for small business. More than 75 per cent of our members are either servicing small business or are small businesses in their own right. We constantly challenge ourselves to ensure we are delivering the best service possible to our members while maintaining our small business focus.

We aim to help SME advisors provide mental health support to small business owners, especially during times like these. We want our SME advisors to achieve better mental health by learning how to take care of themselves and how to face a range of unique challenges that can impact their own mental health, their staff or their clients.

Find out more about us: https://www.publicaccountants.org.au/ 

Contact email address: [email protected] 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation that develops and evaluates training programs and trains and accredits Instructors. Our mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based mental health first aid education to everyone. Mental health first aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem, or in a mental health crisis. This help is provided until professional help is received, or the crisis resolves. We offer a variety of training courses for the public, and have an active research program focused on developing course content and evaluating the effectiveness of our training programs. We also collaborate with different institutions and universities to support their research in this area. MHFA Australia is therefore pleased to partner with Deakin University to evaluate our Blended Online MHFA for Financial Service Professionals course. We will support the research team to carry out this evaluation by contributing curriculum, program delivery and research expertise to the project. In doing so, we hope to support the owners of small-medium enterprises by equipping their business advisors with the knowledge and skills to effectively support the mental health of their clients.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) represent more than 128 000 financial professionals, supporting them to build value and make a difference to the businesses, organisations and communities in which they work and live. Around the world, Chartered Accountants are known for their integrity, financial skills, adaptability and the rigour of their professional education and training.

CA ANZ promotes the Chartered Accountant (CA) designation and high ethical standards, delivers world-class services and life-long education to members and advocates for the public good. We protect the reputation of the designation by ensuring members continue to comply with a code of ethics, backed by a robust discipline process. We also monitor Chartered Accountants who offer services directly to the public.

Our flagship CA Program, the pathway to becoming a Chartered Accountant, combines rigorous education with practical experience. Ongoing professional development helps members shape business decisions and remain relevant in a changing world.

We actively engage with governments, regulators and standard-setters on behalf of members and the profession to advocate in the public interest. Our thought leadership promotes prosperity in Australia and New Zealand.

CPA Australia is proud to support Counting On U to ensure members are equipped to recognise and support their clients, employees and themselves in dealing with mental health issues. This project comes at a critical time for the accounting profession. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, accountants have played a frontline role in helping individuals and businesses manage the economic fallout, and this has put them under enormous pressure. Mental health is a whole of industry issue and, more so than ever before, needs a collective approach that supports all our members.  By training accountants to provide mental health support to their tens of thousands of small and medium business clients, we will have a larger societal impact.

Humanex is a New Zealand owned and operated company founded in early 2020 by Co-Directors Lindsey and Kate . The organisation is a mission driven ‘impact enterprise’, designed to address the radical national need for improved mental wellness both in commercial environments and within the community.  As an accredited provider of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) NZ curriculum, Humanex is determined to have a trained and certified mental health first aider in every organisation in New Zealand. At a broader community level, we aim to have one in ten people in New Zealand trained by 2030. Our wider organisational mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based mental health and wellbeing strategies to businesses; and tailored education, training and resources to community groups. We also campaign and advocate for improved mental health and wellbeing initiatives within the context of the prevention and early intervention stages of the mental health spectrum. Delivery of the MHFA curriculum is the first step in a journey to improve the mental wellbeing of everyone living in New Zealand.

Mentally Well Workplaces was started in 2017 by Co-Directors Sally, Tina, Amy and Patrick. Their goal was to build a business that supported all aspects of employee mental health and wellbeing and help organisations across Australia create mentally well work environments via Mental Health First Aid, employee wellness hubs and resources, Employee Assistance Programs and online or face to face mental health workshops and seminars. With a spring boarding of early growth, the Directors spent time with their clients to find out what could be missing and accelerate change in improving mental health awareness and support in workplaces.  From these consultations and the extensive research that followed they created the Online Mental Health Induction program.  The team can now boast that this program, the first of its kind in Australia, inducts tens of thousands of employees every year not only locally, but also across the globe in North America, the UK, Europe and South East Asia.  To compliment this, they now have an extensive suite of programs both online and face to face available for small businesses to large corporations.


Frequently Asked Questions

Read our full list of FAQs here

Our FAQs include information from applying for the program and training/research components, to CPD points, program accreditation, technical difficulties, training logistics (Zoom links, rescheduling, hard copy manuals, e-learning module), and contact details.

Who can apply for this training?

This program is dedicated to advisers of small to medium business clients. You need to be an accountant, bookkeeper, financial planners, business coach/mentor or someone who supports business owners with financial decisions.

What does the training involve?

5 hours of pre-course reading. (Compulsory)

2 hours Relationship Building Training (if you are selected for this group)

2 x 2.5 hours Mental Health First Aid Training

2 x 1 hour Booster Sessions

All classes are delivered via Zoom.

Is the program run Australia wide? How about New Zealand?

The program is available nationally for all eligible Australian business advisers and their clients. In New Zealand, the program is available nationally to all eligible CPA, CA ANZ and ICF members.

What do I do if I can’t make the training date?

Please contact the training vendor (in Australia: Career Development Centre, trading as Mentally Well Workplaces; in New Zealand: Partners and Co, trading as Humanex) as soon as you know that you are no longer able to attend training on your allocated date/time and the team will attempt to reschedule your session. However, please be aware that failure to attend a session may affect your ability to attend the following sessions on your preferred dates, and may also affect your eligibility to receive CPD points.   

Technological issues to consider during training

The course has interactive segments to it and as the content can be confronting, we need to be able to see and hear you.  Please ensure that your camera is on throughout the workshop. We have an obligation to make sure you are ok. There are role-playing segments and other interactive learning that will also support others who are sharing their learning experience with you. We are creating a safe learning environment.

If you have internet connection issues please let the trainer know. 


How much does this program cost?

If you are eligible, there is no cost to you

What does the research part of the program involve?

Depending on which program phase they are allocated to, participating business advisers will be asked to complete two or three surveys: prior to commencing training, during the first booster session, and 2 months following completion of all training. Some advisers will also be requested to nominate 1 to 2 of their clients to participate in the program and complete 3 short surveys (this is optional).

Who is included in the prize draw for the holiday voucher?

Australian business advisers and their small to medium business clients who complete all surveys will be included in the draw for the prize of $6,000 towards a holiday of their choice anywhere in Australia. This prize will be drawn at the end of the program in 2022. The draw is not open to New Zealand advisers or their clients.


Enter into the draw for a $6,000 voucher towards your next holiday in Australia!



All eligible Australian participants in this program will go into the draw for this prize. 

Find out more


The Latest News & Updates

From The Trenches Accounting Summit by From The Trenches

In the age of lockdowns, client demands and more compliance lodgement rounds, brave souls are needed to lead the accounting industry to a more calm, profitable and capable future. Counting on U is part of an industry discussion panel set for 14 September at 1.00 pm. Kate Carnell, Amanda Linton, Paul Meissner, Professor Andrew Noblet, Marie Whitson & Tina Winchester shall be talking about Mental Wellness: You and your clients.

Local Accountant promotes wellbeing through Counting On U Program

Local Accountant, Brodie White, from Hunter-based bookkeeping and accounting firm, Balanced Beans has been selected to participate in Deakin University’s Counting On U mental health program. Local Accountant, Brodie White, from Hunter-based bookkeeping and accounting...

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