Building better mental health in the construction industry

May 6, 2021 BY

Civil Construction Federation Victoria chief executive officer John Kilgour speaks at the Postive Plans, Positive Futures event on March 25.

A program touring the state to improve mental health in the construction agency will visit Geelong on May 20.

Peak body the Civil Construction Federation (CCF) Victoria has developed the Positive Plans, Positive Futures initiative and is holding a series of summits, the first of which took place in Melbourne in late March.

CCF Victoria is supporting owners and managers in the civil construction industry to create mentally healthy workplaces by assisting them to develop mental health action plans that can be used as a demonstration of their capability when they tender for projects.

Federation chief executive officer John Kilgour congratulated South Geelong-based business Asphalt Paving Services (APS) and its managing director Terence Breen for being one of the first businesses to be accepted into the Positive Plans, Positive Futures project as a founding partner.

Mr Kilgour commended Mr Breen on his leadership and dedication to creating a mentally healthy workplace for the staff at APS.

Mr Breen said he committed to the project in acknowledgment of the number of males who have lost their lives to suicide in Geelong.

“I recently lost a male friend to suicide and my son’s mates have lost three fathers to suicide; all from the Geelong region.

“I want to ensure we are doing all we can for our staff and industry to prevent and support our workers mental health and create a healthier, positive workplace.”

CCF Victoria received a large number of applications and selected APS to join a group of leaders who have demonstrated a genuine concern and curiosity to actively participate in their project.

As a founding partner, APS will support CCF in the development of a suite of tools that will result in APS being one of the state’s first civil construction businesses to develop a mental health action plan.

According to CCF Victoria, the civil construction industry has high rates of suicide and mental health problems due to work instability, limited job control and a highly masculine culture.

This includes a suicide rate 1.7 times higher than other male workers, and three times higher for lower-skilled construction workers.

Speaking in front of more than 120 people at the March 25 Positive Plans, Positive Futures forum, Mr Kilgour said the construction industry was a sector with the opportunity and need for change in the way projects were procured, planned and delivered.

“We have cultural heritage plans, energy efficiency plans and COVIDSafe plans but we think it is time for construction businesses to have a mental health action plan,” he said.

“We need to make a pledge to make mental health and wellbeing a priority in the workplace.”

If you or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, phone Lifeline to speak to a Crisis Supporter on 131 114 (24 hours/7 days), text 0477 131 114 (6pm-midnight, 7 nights) or search Lifeline. 

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