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MATES in Construction milestone in supporting workers

MATES in Construction targets suicide prevention in the construction, energy and mining industries – and the not for profit organisation’s efforts have been recognised by the World Health Organisation.

MATES has been helping workers for more than 13 years and recently reached a milestone as it clocked up 200,000 workers provided with general awareness training. That figure has now grown to more than 230,000, as well as 21,000 people CONNECTOR trained and nearly 11,000 cases managed, which has helped the program to be recognised on the international stage.

A World Health Organisation guide details six key pillars to nation-based suicide prevention and showcases MATES in Construction as an example of world’s best practice in multisectoral capacity building.

MATES in Construction acting CEO John Brady said LIVE LIFE: An Implementation Guide for Suicide Prevention in Countries outlines a range of practical tips and considerations to support effective whole-of-society responses that enhance community resilience.

“When MATES started in 2008, suicide was seen almost entirely as a health problem requiring health responses. Programs such as MATES have shown that we achieve much more when we engage all of the community,” Mr Brady said.

“We know that each year more than 195 construction workers in Australia die by suicide and many more are permanently incapacitated following suicide attempts. Construction workers are six times more likely to die by suicide than an accident at work.

“A five-year review of MATES conducted in 2016 showed that suicide rates in the industry had fallen by almost 8 per cent after the introduction of MATES in Construction.

“We are unbelievably proud that the World Health Organisation chose a small Australian program such as MATES to demonstrate what can be achieved in suicide prevention by engaging worksites.”

MATES also has information on the mental health issues raised by COVID, including tips for coping with stress and resources for work sites.

The Queensland Government supports MATES in Construction by providing $1 million annually to fund suicide prevention services in the construction industry, and regional Queensland and small business, with an emphasis on young construction workers. In July 2020, the Queensland Government renewed its commitment to MATES by signing an agreement to provide $1 million per annum from 2020 to 2025.

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