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Cheryl Critchley
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A program seeking to reduce high rates of suicide among construction workers has received a funding boost. 

The NHMRC has announced funding for a large-scale evaluation grant of the Mates in Construction program.

Funding was obtained through an NHMRC partnership project, with support also provided by major industry sponsor Cbus Super, CPB contractors and Multiplex.

Mates in Construction Academic Director Dr Allison Milner, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Equity, says the program has made inroads but needs scientific evaluation.

“It shows a lot of promise,” she says.

Suicide is difficult to discuss, particularly among men in blue collar jobs. Dr Milner says programs such as Mates in Construction aim to break down those barriers and prevent the devastating effects of suicide. 

“It’s something that should be discussed … in a mindful way,” she says. “There’s no evidence that talking about suicide makes people suicidal.”

The Building Employees Redundancy Trust established the Mates in Construction charity in 2008. The workplace-focused program is delivered at construction sites or company offices.

Using prevention and early intervention strategies, the program has bipartisan support from unions and employers.

It aims to reduce stigma, encourages help-seeking and help-offering, and presents suicide as preventable. Mates in Construction is currently operating in SA, WA, NSW and Queensland.

This grant feeds into a larger program of work Dr Milner is conducting on suicide among employed men, which is funded by a Victorian Health and Medical Research Fellowship.

“Suicide is something that affects a lot of people,” she says. “But we know we can prevent it. We know we can make a difference. ” 

Mates in Construction Website:
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