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Date PostedMay 20, 2013

“Mates in Construction” Campaign Targets Suicide in Construction

I recently discovered a new suicide prevention program for South Australian construction workers which an article on the website www.SafetyCulture.com.au reported on.

The program was a long time coming, especially considering that building industry workers in the state are 10 times more likely to die from suicide than construction site accidents and work related injuries.

The program entitled “Mates in Construction” is an adaptation of a program already implemented in Queensland in 2008. The Queensland program was so successful that it is hoped the program will enjoy similar success in SA. The Queensland program resulted in the successful intervention in 47 cases so far.

The Mates in Construction training helps workers to identify when one of their colleagues is experiencing difficulty and thinking about suicide. In Queensland it was discovered that half of those who had committed suicide in the industry had spoken to someone beforehand and a quarter of them had previously attempted suicide, this was what prompted the implementation of the program in Queensland and now in South Australia.

According to authorities there is evidence to support the social validity and effectiveness of the Mates in Construction program for improving suicide and mental health awareness, help-seeking behaviour and treatment engagement thereby reducing the suicide risk for construction workers in Queensland.

Some of the factors that contribute to high suicide rates in the state (and in fact in the construction industry throughout Oz) include longer working hours, less job security, financial problems, relationship issues and a culture of drinking as well as the masculine nature of construction work which often leads to a lack of communication about emotional issues among workers.

Some of the SA companies that have already signed up with the program include Baulderstone, Leighton, Laing O’Rourke, WATPAC and Lend Lease.

Read what a report on SafetyCulture.com.au had to say about the new program:

mic-header-logoSouth Australia is poised to launch a new suicide prevention program in the state that is designed to reduce deaths amongst construction workers – the current figure is six times higher than the overall national average for men.

The program ‘Mates in Construction’ is an adaption of a Queensland program that has been able to ‘intervene’ in 47 attempts at suicide since it began in 2008.

Michelle Brown the state Chief Executive said that this program trains workers to be able to recognise the warning signs and help their fellow workers by connecting them to the experts that can help.

She said that the construction industry is typically male dominated with a culture of not talking about feelings, but also workers hours are generally longer, rates of drinking are higher and there is less job security.

Ms Brown said that these factors alone or combined could potentially lead to relationship and financial problems, which are two of the suicide risk factors.

Read more: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/04/south-australia-set-to-launch-mates-in-construction-program/

Mates in Construction can be contacted at their support service: 1300 642 111.


Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

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