RU OK Day: construction workers flying the flag for mates

MATES in Construction chairman Colin Emmott, Mental Health MInister Andrea Mitchell, South West Region MLC Barry House, Mt Lawley MLA Michael Sutherland, MIC operations manager Chrissie Fearon and MIC director Kieron Gubbins. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d459269
MATES in Construction chairman Colin Emmott, Mental Health MInister Andrea Mitchell, South West Region MLC Barry House, Mt Lawley MLA Michael Sutherland, MIC operations manager Chrissie Fearon and MIC director Kieron Gubbins. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d459269

FLAGS were hoisted across WA last week to prevent suicide in the construction industry.

More than 65 construction sites and businesses took part on R U OK? Day on September 8, ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.

The MATES in Construction (MIC) flag was raised outside Parliament by Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell and Mt Lawley MLA Michael Sutherland, with one of Perth CBD’s biggest current construction sites in the background.

MIC WA operations manager Chrissie Fearon said the organisation’s Fly the Flag initiative had gained momentum since launching last year.

“This is an industry that is predominantly male with a ‘harden up’ culture that can often leave workers feeling isolated and not knowing how to ask for help, even when they desperately need it,” she said.

“Issues such as relationship breakdown, excessive alcohol consumption, bullying, and of course the inherent nature of the job – which often involves long hours or FIFO, coupled with poor job security and fluctuating incomes – can be magnified within such a male-dominated, macho culture.”

She said there was help out there and somewhere to turn.

Figures show one construction worker takes their own life every two days in Australia.

Construction workers and their families can call the MIC helpline on 1300 642 111, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Callback Centre on 1300 659 467.