Mates in Construction which was set up to turn the figures around quotes statistics compiled by Griffith University in Queensland.
Kieran Toohey a field officer with Mates in Construction operating in NSW said MIC runs three programs that are helping reduce the figures but the biggest stumbling block so far has been persuading employers to provide time for workers to take part in the program.
There are three courses. A free course of 45 minutes and a free four-hour course but also a two-day advanced course.
“The 45-minute course is about how to spot if your workmates are struggling. It’s about fixing a mate and getting them to help,” said Mr Toohey.
He said the free four hour course run by MIC was about being a volunteer connector on the worksite and knowing how and where to connect people with the help they needed. The two-day course is an advanced First Aid for suicide awareness.
“The downward trend is miraculous, we have only touched about 10 per cent of the industry. imagine what could happen if we grew it more. These men and women are saving lives,” he said.
Mr Toohey, a concreter for seven years and a serving soldier for 13 years with several deployments to Afghanistan studied psychology when he left the army.
He said the shocking figures for the construction industry were due to it’s male dominated culture.
“It’s a culture where you don’t discuss problems with your peers, there is bullying and drinking fused with the life events everyone goes through. It’s an unfortunate recipe,” said Mr Toohey.
To help raise money to expand the program MATES in Construction will be sending a team to Papua New Guinea in a few weeks to walk the challenging Kokoda Track on September 1.
Joining the team will be Madison White and Beau Mehigan who both work for the Hills-based construction company Gremmo Homes. Madison also works for the I Want2WORK project.
DATS Environmental Services, a national partner of MATES In Construction, is funding the team’s expedition costs.
Madison and Beau are now in training mode are aiming to raise $5000.
Beau, a front office manager at Gremmo Homes said: “It’s such a wonderful opportunity to have this experience and for such a great cause.
“I think the most testing thing (at Kokoda) will be the physical nature of the walk, the humidity and the length. I’ve heard its emotionally quite tough as well and that everyone cries at least once ... it’s going to be a life changing experience.”