The MATES in Construction flag was flown with pride in South Windsor on Thursday September 14th, where over 30 workers from Prime Build had honest and open conversations about their mental health.
Taking place at 54 Fairey Road, where the South Windsor Enterprise Park is being developed by Prime Build, the Fly the Flag event in Windsor was one of 900 events that happened nationwide last week, involving over 100,000 construction workers.
The event was attended by a wide range of Prime Build employees, both on-site and office workers in attendance. Many of them were younger graduates, and benefited greatly from the open dialogue around mental health on the day.
Brad Parker, CEO of MATES in Construction, says that the nationwide Fly the Flag events are all about celebrating the work of people in the industry. “What they do everyday toward improving mental health and preventing suicide amongst their work colleagues, they spread that throughout their community as well. It’s about celebrating that.”
A Strategic Plan for Mental Health NSW
MATES was established in 2008 in response to the AISRAP Report, which found that young men in the construction industry were 2.38 times more likely to commit suicide than youth working in other industries.
Since then, the charity has provided suicide prevention services through community development programs on sites and a 24/7 help line. MATES was acknowledged by the World Health Organisation in 2021 for their remarkable work in suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
“What sets us aside is we’re boots on the ground, dealing with people on an everyday basis, and encouraging those life saving interventions which are so important,” Brad says. “And we know that we’ve had a real positive impact – we’ve got some research to suggest we’re having a positive impact.”
Dean Willemsen, chairman of Prime Build, praised the work of MATES and was pleased to continue their work with the charity: “The concept of suicide is something that our culture doesn’t deal with very well.
“There’s so much stigma around it, and what MATES have helped our organisation with is to break down that stigma and be okay with not being okay, while giving us all the tools to be able to have those conversations that ultimately could help save someone’s life,” he says. “It’s that talking and reflecting that’s such a big part of supporting our mental health, and that’s really what the day was about.”
With over 900 Fly the Flag events nationwide, it’s Brad’s hope that more conscious attitudes towards mental health will be incorporated into the industries where it’s most needed: “93% of construction workers who committed suicide in the past never sought professional helpful.
When people say build a bridge and get over it, we are the bridge – we need to get to those people in the first instance, and that’s where MATES comes in, teaching some simple life skills, so we can all have an opportunity to play our part.”