MATES in Construction helping build fixes for mental health stigma


Centre front: Member for Mt Lawley Michael Sutherland and Member for Perth Eleni Evangel with MATES in Construction WA boss Godfrey Baronie taking some VIPS on a tour of a construction site to see the work MATES in Construction does to limit mental illness in the construction industry. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Centre front: Member for Mt Lawley Michael Sutherland and Member for Perth Eleni Evangel with MATES in Construction WA boss Godfrey Baronie taking some VIPS on a tour of a construction site to see the work MATES in Construction does to limit mental illness in the construction industry. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

THE new Perth Stadium building site hosted an event to raise awareness around mental health in the construction industry.

MATES in Construction (MIC) aims to raise awareness, build capacity and support a philosophy of mates helping mates.

Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a workplace accident and apprentices are at an even greater risk of suicide.

While one in four workers in the industry has attempted suicide at some time in their life, only 7 per cent have tried to seek independent professional help.

This is something MIC is working to change.

MIC WA provides onsite training and awareness.

More than 14,000 workers have attended training, more than 1000 workers have volunteered to be Connectors and more than 200 workers have volunteered to be ASSIST workers.

In the previous financial year MATES in Construction have MIC delivered training to more than 50 WA construction sites and head offices.

CFMEU State secretary Mick Buchan said that the program “has saved many, many lives”.

“Mates in Construction started as a pilot program at Fiona Stanley Hospital and has grown from that,” Mr Buchan said.

“We have a very high rate of suicide in our industry and Mates in Construction does a lot of good work getting construction workers to talk about issues with their mates, which is important in getting help.

“It is not a taboo subject any more.

“The mentality of ‘toughen up princess’ has been broken down.

“What we are finding is that people are now talking about problems and getting support.”

Mr Buchan said workers faced pressures at home and on the job.

Laing O’Rourke regional rail manager Garry McLaughlin, for, said his company is was proud of its association with Mates in Construction.

“Peer-based support programs such as Mates in Construction have been valuable at Stadium Rail Project to raise awareness of suicide prevention, build capacity in our workforce and provide help to our fellow workers,” Mr McLaughlin said.