Media Release: Mining Family Matters and Wesley LifeForce join forces to tackle suicide among FIFO workers
Australian workers in mining, oil and gas are being armed with information to help prevent suicide as part of a new partnership between Mining Family Matters and Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks.
Mining Family Matters founder Alicia Ranford says the Rock Solid Suicide Prevention Program aims to build emotional resilience and help prevent suicide among workers in the male-dominated resources industry, while also resourcing families with practical strategies to survive the challenges of working away or shift work.
“Wesley Mission has been a leader in the suicide prevention field for many years, establishing Lifeline in 1963 to counsel people in crisis by phone 24/7,” Mrs Randford says. “It also established Wesley LifeForce in 1995 to provide suicide prevention services that educate and empower local communities and support people most at risk.
“At Mining Family Matters we’ve always been convinced that prevention is better than cure, and that the mental health of workers should be considered every bit as important as physical health and safety.
“That’s why we’re proud to be working with the suicide prevention team at Wesley LifeForce to bring their considerable expertise to the mining and resources industry, particularly given the additional pressures on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers and their families.”
The launch of the program comes as the West Australian Parliament investigates the mental health impacts of FIFO work arrangements, and greater awareness nationally about Australia's alarming suicide statistics that show suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15-44.
The CEO of Wesley Mission the Rev Dr Keith Garner says although there is no specific research about the rate of suicide among workers in mining and resources, experts agree that fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workers have greater exposure to risk factors that can contribute to deaths by suicide.
“Risk factors for people who work away in mining and resources include social isolation, family and relationship stress and being exposed to high-risk on-the-job activities such as underground mining and blasting,” Dr Garner says.
Wesley LifeForce has trained more than 20,000 Australians in suicide prevention in workshops in urban, regional and remote communities.
Under the Rock Solid collaboration, Wesley LifeForce is offering a range of cost-effective workshops to mining and resources companies Australia-wide, to teach simple, effective interventions aimed at reducing the cost of workplace stress, saving lives and helping to eliminate the impact of losing a staff member to suicide.
These highly interactive workshops are delivered by skilled trainers with extensive experience in suicide prevention and mental health.
Key issues to be addressed include why people take their own life; risk and protective factors; commonly held beliefs about suicide; how to help someone going through a tough time; barriers to suicide intervention; how to build individual resilience; and implementing the See Ask Listen Tell (SALT) intervention strategy.
As part of the collaboration, Mining Family Matters has today released the second edition of its award-winning Survival Guide for Mining Families, featuring more comprehensive information on the emotional wellbeing of workers as well as practical, professional strategies to keep relationships strong and happy.
Chapters include identifying stress and depression; overcoming stress, anxiety and sadness; building workplace resilience; knowing your mental health first aid; helping children to cope when you work away; simple ways to stay connected; and making your money work.
In South Australia, the Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee (MAQOHSC) is funding a Rock Solid Suicide Prevention Pilot Program within the state's mining and quarrying industry. MAQOHSC is the only organisation of its kind in the world—specifically funded by South Australia’s mining and quarrying industry to make workplaces safer.