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May 2017 – MATES in Mining launches fight against depression and suicide

The Coal Services Health & Safety Trust has provided funding to roll out the MATES in Mining program to help reduce suicide rates and improve mental health across the NSW coal industry.

The program is based on the ‘MATES in Construction’ (MIC) program that has seen a reduction in suicide rates in the Queensland construction industry and aims to establish a similar model within the coal mining industry. MIC has been working with the mining industry for the last five years, trialling the General Awareness and Connector training on several mine sites. The Health & Safety Trust grant and ongoing in-kind support from Coal Services has enabled a wider rollout of the MATES model at sites across NSW.

MATES in Mining Project Manager, Andrew McMahon, comes with a strong industry background having worked for the Minerals Council of Australia and the NSW Minerals Council as Director of Health and Safety. He helped guide the industry on investigating mental health issues, publishing the industry’s landmark Mental Health and Wellbeing Blueprint.

Andrew says that the program is based on the simple idea that suicide is everyone’s business.

‘Everyone in the industry must play their part to improve the mental health and wellbeing of workers and to reduce suicide rates. It cannot be left to the mental health professionals alone,’ he stressed.

MATES in Mining provides a program of training that is unique to mining workers and is designed around the culture and issues associated with the industry, such as long hours, the shift in job security and the toll it can take on relationships.

‘We are a unique entity in that we foster ownership and control of the program with the Australian mining industry. Programs are delivered across the industry regardless of employer and/or union affiliation and it’s important that we are seen to be independent. It’s about establishing trust with the workers and to make them feel comfortable in talking about these hard issues.’

‘It’s a simple program,’ said Andrew. ‘It’s really just Mates helping Mates – something we are all brilliant at.’

Alongside the significant financial support by the Trust, Coal Services’ Managing Director/CEO Lucy Flemming explained the business will be closely involved in the project and assisting wherever they can to make it a success.

‘The Coal Services Health & Safety Trust aims to support the industry by funding projects and research that will have a positive effect on the health and safety of workers, operators and the wider community. Mental health is a significant safety risk that can no longer be considered just personal issue. We look forward to working with Mates in Mining and our industry partners to give this issue the attention it deserves – it’s another way we can help protect workers.’

If you know a mining or resources site that may be interested in the MATES model, contact Andrew ([email protected]), visit www.matesinmining.org.au or like and share the MATES in Mining Facebook page.

Need help or you are looking to help a Mate – then call the MATES in Mining 24/7 helpline 1300 642 111

Fast facts:

  • Suicide rates in Australia has increased over the past 10 years.
  • Three out of four suicides are by men and suicide is the leading cause of death for men between 15 and 44 years of age.