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Kainga Ora adopts suicide prevention programme

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The MATES in Construction suicide prevention programme will be delivered at Kāinga Ora building sites to help prevent deaths in the construction industry.

The mental health education and support initiative first launched in New Zealand in October, but has been available for 11 years in Australia, where construction industry suicides have fallen by eight percent.

The construction sector has the highest proportion of suicides across all industries in New Zealand. Kāinga Ora Development Director Andrew Showler says the organisation has a role to play in enabling people in the industry to get help when they need it.

"A staggering 47 construction workers nationwide were lost to suicide in the year to June 2019. We fully support any initiative to improve mental health and create a more supportive workplace culture.

"The MATES in Construction programme encourages workers to look out for one another. It’s designed to help workers identify and engage with mates who may be struggling, and get long-term support."

The programme is delivered in three stages, starting with a one-hour induction to equip workers with the skills they need to start discussions with someone who may need help. The MATES team includes field officers and case managers who provide ongoing support for people who need it.

Initially, four Kāinga Ora build partners - Miles Construction, Signature Homes, Property Partners Group and Home - will provide MATES training to hundreds of workers at building sites across Auckland.

Workers at the major Greys Ave development project in central Auckland will also undergo MATES training, and the programme will be eventually rolled out nationwide.

Slade McFarland is a MATES trainer based in Auckland. The New Zealand rugby stalwart says he’s "passionate about fostering a culture where mates look after mates, and people doing it tough get the help they need."

"The MATES in Construction programme can literally save lives. I’m looking forward to working with Kāinga Ora to tackle the stigma around mental health."

MATES In Construction New Zealand Chief Executive Victoria McArthur welcomes the opportunity to work with Kāinga Ora. "Kāinga Ora is an organisation that involves and supports so many people nationwide. Their backing of this initiative will play a vital part in promoting mental wellbeing."

MATES is a charitable organisation formed in Australia in 2008. Kāinga Ora has signed a two-year contract with the organisation.

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