100,000 construction workers fly the flag for suicide prevention

by Liv Croagh
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MATEs

The construction industry has the highest suicide rate of any industry in Australia. To raise awareness of these devastating statistics, 100,000 construction workers across the country will fly the flag as part of not-for-profit MATES events this week.

MATES ‘Fly the Flag’ events around Australia over 13 and 14 September have been organised to raise mental health awareness and foster solidarity, and provide crucial support for workers. Over 100,000 construction workers will take part in events this week spanning 900 worksites nationally. 

Suicide prevention

Over 100,000 construction workers are set to take part in ‘Fly the Flag’ events.

What is MATES?

MATES is an industry led non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting better health as well as suicide prevention. It is focused on the construction sector and other blue-collar industries.

As part of MATES, ‘Fly the Flag’ is a symbolic event that extends to construction sites, offices and workplaces across the country. It’s symbolic, and asks MATES flags to be displayed prominently. The intention is to serve as a powerful visual reminder of the industry’s commitment to supporting its workforce and breaking the stigma around mental health issues, particularly in these industries.

“We hope ‘Fly the Flag’ meetings around Australia this week will encourage workplace conversations about mental health,” says MATES NSW chief executive, Brad Parker.

“We have a problem with mental health and suicide in our industry, and we need to talk about it.

“Our society perceives blue-collar workers as strong and steadfast, but the reality is sometimes different to the perception.”

The week’s events will see organisations encouraged to engage with workers in various activities, all which are focused on mental health and well-being. The activities include toolbox talks, workshops and awareness sessions.

“Everyone has a responsibility to check in with their workmates from time to time and as an industry, we need to do better in addressing poor mental health, loneliness and the type of anxiety that if swept under the carpet, can be debilitating,” Parker finishes.

Fly the Flag

MATES provides suicide prevention through community development programs on sites, and by supporting workers in need through case management and a 24/7 help line: 1300 642 111. 

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

Read the story of Justin Geange, a field officer for MATES.

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