SHAPE and MATES in Construction get serious about suicide prevention

To mark World Mental Health Day, we are delighted to announce the renewal of our longstanding partnership with Mates in Construction for another two years. SHAPE has been a national partner of the suicide prevention charity dedicated to the construction industry for more than five years and we have provided over $300,000 in funding to the cause over that period. We were also the first Australian company to become ‘Mates Accredited’, having invested in rolling out the MATES in Construction program across its entire business.

MATES General Awareness Training has been delivered to 98 per cent of our workforce and we have introduced over one thousand people, including employees and contractors, to the program. Nearly 70 employees have been trained as ‘Connectors’ who can help assist someone in crisis by keeping them safe while connecting them with professional support. A further 28 employees have received ‘ASSIST’ training which qualifies them to actively engage with a colleague contemplating suicide to make a plan to keep them safe.

Since the inception of the MATES in Construction program, the construction industry has seen a reduction in suicide rates of around 8 per cent. Despite the high incidence of suicide in the industry, SHAPE has never experienced a suicide on site and credits the awareness program.

Our CEO Peter Marix-Evans said: “Today is a day for focusing on mental health education, awareness and advocacy against stigma so it’s important to recognise the work MATES in Construction does in our industry. Too many of our mates and colleagues are lost to suicide and now there is evidence that we can do something about it.”

We’re proud to be a national supporter of the MATES program and to continue a partnership that is close to our hearts and important to our people. But for us, it’s not just about handing over a cheque, it’s about living and breathing the program in our workplace and keeping our teams safe.

We are incredibly grateful for the support that SHAPE Australia has given us today and over the years. They have been involved with MATES in NSW since our inception, giving us purpose and credibility. Their renewed national partnership will enable us to hire an additional caseworker which means we can deliver more training, build greater awareness and reduce stigma around seeking support. While rates of suicide in the industry are declining, they are still exceptionally high and young men who might find it harder to ask for help are at serious risk. There’s always more we can be doing but we need the support of employers like SHAPE to do it.

Brad Parker, CEO, MATES in Construction NSW