Property Australia

Fly the flag with your mates

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal September 7, 2021

R U OK?Day and Mates in Construction’s Fly the Flag Day are tomorrow. Find out how you can check in on your colleagues and stay close even while physically distant.

Each year, 190 Australians working in the construction industry take their own lives. This means we lose a construction worker every second day to suicide.

Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work, according to MATES in Construction.

This year, unsurprisingly, people across our industry are doing it tough, especially when lockdowns are in place.

Chris-Lockwood-Corp-Headshot-2016“People’s livelihoods are at risk which adds to existing pressures. Calls to our 24/7 helpline have steadily increased and our case managers are seeing a significant upturn in people calling on services,” says Chris Lockwood, chief executive officer of MATES in Construction.

MATES was established in 2008 to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers. The MATES program is based on the simple idea that suicide is everyone’s business.

“MATES in Construction builds the R U OK?Day message into the way we do business every day,” Lockwood says.

Each year, MATES hosts Fly the Flag Day to celebrate the volunteers who bring awareness of suicide prevention to worksites and to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to mental health.

“More than 800 sites with 158,000 workers will be flying the flag in support of their mates this year,” Lockwood notes.

R U OK? Day, meanwhile, encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times. A stack of resources on the R U OK? website can help companies host a COVIDSafe R U OK?Day.

Download everything from virtual backgrounds to make Zoom morning teas more meaningful, templates and posts for blogs and social media, and tips for creating a ‘conversation corner’ that can help people find the right words when a colleague is not OK.

“Mates look after mates. Even if you are in lockdown, you can encourage people to fly the flag virtually with a Zoom morning tea,” Lockwood says.

“Take the time to connect with our simple message. Even when we are not together physically, we can still keep an eye on each other and connect with our mates.”

Find out more about MATES in Construction and its mission to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers.

For support at any time of day or night, call MATES in Construction’s 24/7 helpline number on 1300 642 111 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.