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MATES in Mining join fight against depression and suicide

MATES IN MINING: Wayne Flemming, Morne Van Zyl and Dawid Pretorius.
MATES IN MINING: Wayne Flemming, Morne Van Zyl and Dawid Pretorius. Jessica Dorey

CLERMONT open cut coal mine is joining the fight against depression and suicide.

In 2015 the mine volunteered to take part in a pilot program aimed at helping prevent depression and suicide in the industry. The program called MATES in Mining is based on the successful construction industry program - MATES In Construction.

Last year suicide statistics peaked, with ABS reporting the rate of suicide is the highest it has been since 2006. And rates among men nearly three times higher than women.

MATES in Construction CEO Jorgen Gullestrup said it was great to see that the problem of high rates of suicide in the mining industry was being recognised, and people within the industry were taking action.

"MATES in Mining provides a program of training that is unique to mining workers, that has been designed specifically to address issues common within the sector,” Mr Gullestrup said.

"Issues like relationship breakdown, excess alcohol consumption, bullying, and of course the inherent nature of the job - which often involves long hours or FIFO, coupled with poor job security and fluctuating incomes, can be magnified within such a male-dominated, macho culture.”

During the first phase of the program 54 volunteers from the mine, called "connectors” took part in three days of training to equip them with the skills and knowledge to notice if something seemed unusual when talking to their colleagues.

MATES in Mining connector and supervisor at the mine, Wayne Flemming said the program allowed staff the opportunity to gain the skills to help their mates.

"For a lot of the workers, this mine is like a second family. At the end of the day we want to be there for each other and look out for each other,” he said.

"Being a connector means people know that they can just come and have a chat to me. It's not just as simple as them asking for help.

"It's about them knowing that there are people to chat with if they need it.

"Although we know all know each other well. Through the connector training we've been taught how to identify if something is wrong.”

Clermont Open Cut general manager Dawid Pretorius said with 50% of the staff on a FIFO roster, this program was special to the mine.

"We are extremely proud of the program. The awareness of the issue has been elevated on site. It also demonstrates to our employees that we are not just all about production- that here at Clermont we really care about people and want it to feel like a second family for them,” he said.

Topics:  depression mental health mining suicide


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