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11 January 2017

New Suicide Prevention Program for 'Arrium' Workers

A new mental health and suicide prevention program will offer training and support to Arrium workers, their families and significant others, contractors and the broader Whyalla community from January 2017.

Funded by Country SA PHN and delivered by MATES In Construction, the program offers free community sessions to families of Whyalla workers – recognising the impact employment uncertainty can have on the entire community.

Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks voluntary administration has hit the region hard, with mid-year unemployment at 7.2 per cent, following the loss of up to 4000 jobs – about 40 per cent of the workforce.

“We know that difficult economic times can sometimes increase people’s vulnerability,” said Country SA PHN, CEO Kim Hosking.

“However, we also know that empowering and training the community to recognize potential signs of suicide risk in loved ones or friends is an effective suicide prevention strategy that will provide capacity building for the Whyalla community.”

MATES In Construction will provide multi-level suicide prevention training for workers and contractors within the Whyalla Steel Industry and create a support framework for their significant others.

Embedded into the project is 24/7 phone access for those in distress, case management support where appropriate and referral pathways within the stepped care model.

Research shows construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work, with young workers more than twice as likely to take their own lives as other young Australian men.

Every year 190 Australian construction workers take their own lives. That’s one every second day.

“These sobering statistics are particularly concerning when you have the closure of such a large employer like Arrium. The ripple effect that these suicides have on the broader community is absolutely devastating,” said MATES in Construction CEO, Michelle Caston.

“Other research shows that workers find it difficult to discuss feelings and emotions with colleagues – pride is identified as one of the main issues, combined with a fear of not seeming ‘manly.’ Our program aims to raise awareness about mental health and well-being and provide training and support for workers and their loved ones.”

This Whyalla regional Suicide Prevention Project will compliment State funded activity also proposed for Arrium.

The first community sessions will be held in Whyalla on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th of January.

All of the sessions have flexible hours to accommodate community attendance.


Country SA PHN is responsible for commissioning Commonwealth directed funding for primary health services throughout regional South Australia. For more information, please visit

For further information about the mental health and suicide prevention program, please contact Laura, from MATES in Construction on (08) 8373 0122.

Who: Country SA PHN and MATES in Construction
Free Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Program
When: January 17th and 18th
Where: TBC Whyalla
Why: to provide support to the Whyalla community

The MATES in Construction program integrates training and support. The program uses training to raise awareness that there is a problem with suicide and its contributing risk factors in our industry and we can all be a part of the solution. Support is then provided through clear pathways to help, case management processes that ensure workers in need of support are connected to appropriate help.

Country SA PHN is the health network set up to service the country regions of South Australia, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery while improving the coordination of patient care. Established by the Australian Government, we exist to bridge the gap of health inequity and access in rural South Australia by building a collaborative and responsive health care system. Country SA PHN covers 99.8% of the state geographically, incorporating approximately 30% of South Australia’s total population.


Media enquiries:  Kate Dorsey, Michels Warren PR on 0417 811 010


Beckwith Park, 30 Tanunda Road Nuriootpa SA 5355
PO Box 868 Nuriootpa SA 5355
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Country SA PHN gratefully acknowledge the financial and other support from the Australian Government Department of Health