MATES helping Mates in Mining

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L-R: Mining and Energy Union General Secretary Grahame Kelly, Study Author Associate Professor Tania King, Glencore Coal Director Health, Safety and Training Kylie Ah Wong, MATES CEO Chris Lockwood, Member for Hunter Dan Repacholi

A new report suggests the rate of suicide among male mining workers may be increasing.

The Suicide in the Australian Mining Industry: A National Study Report from the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health was commissioned by MATES in Mining, Construction and Energy and is the first national study to look into suicide rates in the mining sector.

MATES is a charity established in 2008 aiming to reduce the high suicide among Australian construction, energy and mining workers.

The study they commissioned, is the first one to look into suicide in the industry and confirmed that it has been largely overlooked. The report estimates the suicide rate among workers is between 11 and 25 per one hundred thousand and that rates of suicide among male mining workers may be increasing. In contrast, suicide rates for males across most other workplace categories show some decline.

MATES CEO Chris Lockwood said the report confirms why they need to be doing the work they are in the mining industry.

“Those rates are not acceptable, we need to step up and do something.

“The good thing is, we know we can do something about it. Any death by suicide has a real impact in the workplace, on everyone at the site, the family, and the broader community, everyone in the Hunter would sadly know someone who has died by suicide.

“It’s a problem for all of us to step forward and do something about which is why having this research is really important to give us the confidence that not only do we know we have a problem but it’s the right thing that we are stepping forward to do something about it.”

MATES in Mining has rolled out a prevention program to address suicide and has had more than 4500 workers cross Glencore sites trained to give workers the skills to recognise the signs a workmate might be struggling with life.

“We’ve been lucky that Glencore and others have stepped forward and said this is something we need to do something about,

“Those workers that have been trained have developed an active community of care on site, those workers are mates looking after mates and when they see someone struggling they know how to step in, they have the skills and the confidence to get someone the help they need when they need it.

“10 per cent or more of the workers who undertake the program step up as volunteers and become active advocates for the program on-site.

“They’re not only working on site, but they also live in the community in the Hunter, they’re the mums, dads, aunties, partners, uncles, they’re the footy coaches, they’re part of the community, so the skills they learn on site they take into the broader community so the work we are doing here is helping the whole Hunter step forward and tackle real issues,” Chris said.

He said MATES would now advocate for more detail on specific industries to be routinely collected in coronial data to enable a more rigorous assessment of industry and occupational patterning of suicide.

If you or someone you know is struggling contact LIFELINE on 13 11 14 More details on MATES:

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