Mates in Construction

Mates in Construction

Mates in Construction launches in New Zealand.  Last year over 685 New Zealanders died by suicide.  These statistics released by the Coroner’s office in August 2019 have confirmed yet again, that URGENT action is needed as suicide numbers have climbed to the highest since records began over 10 years ago.


  • Almost three out of four suicides are done by men.
  • Suicide is a leading cause of death in younger populations.
  • Our Maori and Pacifica population contributing to suicide numbers has dramatically increased.
  • 45% of deaths were from people that were employed.
  • World Health Organisation estimates that for every death by suicide 3 suicide survivors will suffer permanent full incapacity and 12 will require time off work.

MATES in Construction NZ:  In August 2019 MATES in Construction commenced its start-up in New Zealand. MATES is an industry suicide prevention organisation focusing on raising awareness, building capacity, providing help and research. At its core the MATES program builds and strengthens communities in the workplace and across the industry – helping them to be supportive and provide an environment that encourages positive wellbeing

History of MATES:  The MATES initiative commenced in Qld in 2008 responding to the over-representation of construction workers in Australia’s suicide toll.  The program is widely recognised as best practice in suicide prevention in male dominated industries.  Research into the MATES in Construction program has demonstrated effectiveness in communicating with workers.

The Program

  • General Awareness Training: GAT Training is delivered to at least 80% of workers on-site. This training helps to introduce workers to the nature of the problem and provides practical guidance as to how they can assist.
  • Connector:  Connector Training is provided to those people on site who volunteer to become a Connector. A Connector is someone who is trained to help keep someone in crisis safe, while at the same time connecting them to professional help.  1 in 20 Volunteers on site become Connector Trained
  • ASIST Workers: ASIST Training equips individuals to develop safe plans for workers at critical risk. These workers can be compared to the first aid officer on site. ASIST workers will talk to a person contemplating suicide with the object of making this person “safe”.


Support from our Team

  • Field Officers: MATES in Construction NZ employs Field Officers who go onto site to establish the MIC program. Once the MIC program commences on the site, the Field Officer will have contact with that site until the site comes to closure. That presence includes both training and support. It could include toolbox talks, presence at site events, regular visits to the site office and to be available to talk with any workers who may want to talk with MIC. Where there is a critical incident, the Field Officer will contact the Connectors in view of providing support.
  • Case Management: MATES in Construction NZ employs suitably qualified case managers to assist troubled workers with an effective plan to effectively address their issue(s). MIC does not provide any services but connects the worker to appropriate services in their industry and/or area. This could include such services as their EAP, financial counselling, drug and alcohol services, grief counselling, family and relationship counselling etc.
  • MATES Postvention: Critical incidents and accidents are reasonably regular on construction sites. Sometimes these incidents can trigger emotions and reactions in workers that compromise both their safety and their mental health. When invited by the site, MIC will attend the site to support its workers after a critical incident. Part of this process is to recharge the onsite MIC network (Connectors and ASIST workers) to be vigilant in keeping an eye on their mates in case this incident has had an adverse effect on any workers. Postvention refers to the support a site may need after a worker or a worker’s family member has committed suicide.

Outcomes the MATES program delivers

  • Increased awareness and understanding – Through on-site General Awareness Training we achieve an increased awareness and understanding of suicide and mental ill health leading to reduced stigma. And through site activities such as toolbox talks, fundraising efforts and Fly the Flag day a unity of purpose around improving mental health and preventing suicide improves workforce perception of their industry and workplace
  • Increased support capability – Through onsite volunteer Connectors and ASIST workers we create a site-based peer intervention capability seeking to identify and connect workers to appropriate support
  • Increased social connectivity – Through common purpose, onsite volunteers and general awareness we increase social connection on site and by supporting the on- site networks with Field Officers, Case Managers and a 24/7 Support line we connect individuals in need of support to the best available
  • Improved economic productivity – By helping create a supportive workplace, and providing individual care and appropriate assistance, workers tend to be more engaged and productive. Turnover is staff can also be expected to reduce as a workplace becomes more mentally healthy as can direct lost time due to staff absence. PwC and Heads Up has calculated that workplace mental health initiatives such as MATES has a positive return on investment of 2.3 per dollar spent through reduced absenteeism and improved productivity

Posted in
Scroll to Top