The MATES in Construction program has achieved a unique milestone this year, having completed 10 years of saving, and turning lives around in the Australian construction industry.
To commemorate the occasion, more than 700 MATES in Construction (MIC) representatives, volunteers and family members, as well as Queensland Health minister, the Steven Miles, came together recently at Dreamworld.
What began as a small Queensland operation in 2008 has grown to become one of the most pivotal mental health programs in the construction industry nationwide, said MIC CEO Jorgen Gullestrup.
The MIC program has trained more than 10,000 construction workers to recognise very small red flags, and know what to do about it before it’s too late.
These volunteers, according to Gullestrup have reached more than 120,000 workers over the past decade.
In Queensland alone, more than 75,000 workers have now joined the program, working across more than 1500 construction sites.
This support network has helped turn around the lives of more than 5000 at-risk workers and prevent innumerable suicides in an industry where male workers are 71 percent more likely to consider suicide than in any other.
MIC data shows that suicide rates in the male-dominated industry have fallen by an impressive eight per cent since the program began 10 years ago.
Gullestrup explains that construction workers tend to be very practical people, and when problems mount, they tend to seek a practical solution to ending the pain.
Observing that the issue was more prominent in blue collar occupations such as construction, he says workers in blue collar industries tend to bottle it all up instead of reaching out for help during a personal crisis.
The MATES in Construction program has been implemented on hundreds of sites in Queensland.