MATES IN CONSTRUCTION

Adjourned debate on motion of the Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins:

That this council notes—

1. The exemplary work of MATES in Construction in its endeavour to prevent suicide in the construction industry and promote health and wellbeing;

2. That MATES in Construction is a federation of independent industry-based MATES in Construction organisations throughout New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and here in South Australia;

3. That MATES in Construction aims to raise awareness about suicide, making it easier to access help and ensuring that the help offered throughout the industry is practical , professional and appropriate; and

4. That MATES in Construction has implemented the following programs to address the tragic rate of suicide in the industry—

(a) an individual case management program which aims to assist troubled workers with an effective plan to address their mental issues;

(b) field visits, which involved field officers going from site to site to advise workers of the program; and

(c) a post vention program, which provides support where a worker or worker's family member has committed suicide.

(Continued from 12 November 2014.)

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS(20:05:00): Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank the Hon. John Gazzola, the Hon. Tammy Franks, the Hon. Kelly Vincent, the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars and, of course, the Hon. Stephen Wade for their remarks about what is, I think, a unique but very worthy community organisation. It certainly does have a very strong basis in the community that surrounds the construction industry.

Anybody who has had the opportunity to witness the sincerity and enthusiasm for that work, through various functions, has become, I think as the Hon. Stephen Wade said, informed, incredibly informed, but also passionate about what that organisation is doing, and that is the main reason why I moved this motion. MATES in Construction, like so many groups working in the mental health and particularly suicide prevention area, do it on a very modest budget or no budget at all and I give all of those groups great credit for that.

In moving this motion, I talked about the fact that the state government and the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, particularly at estimates, utilised MATES in Construction as an example of what the state government is doing in suicide prevention, even though it appeared at the time that the state government gave no money at all to MATES in Construction.

I need to put on the record some correction of that. As the Hon. Mr Kandelaars would know, only a couple of weeks ago SafeWork SA appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation. Part of that appearance was in relation to the committee's inquiry into mental health in the workplace, and particularly suicide prevention.

During that hearing I asked the witnesses, Mr Bryan Russell and Mr Stephen De Musso, whether SafeWork SA provided any form of financial support to MATES in Construction and I received a response the following day from Mr De Musso, and I quote, 'to which we answered that we didn't believe so.' He goes on:

I can advise that SafeWork SA has supported the MATES in Construction program through its sponsorship of the MATES in Construction Inaugural Fundraiser Breakfast. The value of the sponsorship was $1,000.

While some people might say that $1,000 is little enough, I need to give credit for the fact that that support has been provided and I was grateful for Mr De Musso coming back to the secretary of the committee as promptly as he did with that.

However, I think it is important that we encourage all governments, of whatever political flavour, to do more to support community organisations, broadly in the mental health area but particularly in suicide prevention. Some of the things that have been highlighted by the various speakers tonight is the particular need for that work to happen.

As the Hon. Mr Wade highlighted, the far greater likelihood of a construction worker suiciding rather than dying from a workplace accident is a frightening statistic and something that makes me all the more determined to do everything I can to support anybody working in suicide prevention. I thank all the members for their support on this matter, those who have spoken and others who give me support in this area all the time. I commend the motion to the house.

Motion carried.