Lockdown has been tough for Canberra’s construction workers, and despite the easing of restrictions allowing contractors back onto large building sites from 3 September, many tradies are still battling feelings of frustration and uncertainty surrounding their employment.
Research shows workers in the construction industry are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems than workers in other professions, and COVID-19 lockdowns have exacerbated that risk for some.
During the pandemic, Canberra’s OzHelp Wellbeing Support Team has stepped up its online workplace programs that provide mental health support and suicide prevention for tradies, sub-contractors and apprentices.
The OzHelp programs struck a chord with allinsure director Peter Chamberlain whose good mate Robbie McMullen took his own life six years ago.
A construction worker, Robbie had just turned 30, came from a rural background, was recently separated and was living alone.
“When you look at the high-risk categories, he ticked all the boxes,” Peter said.
Since losing Robbie, Peter has been an avid supporter of OzHelp and their work to assist employers in creating mentally healthy workplaces.
This year, allinsure was a major sponsor of Canberra’s Suicide Prevention Ball, of which OzHelp was the primary beneficiary.
During the event, held on 24 July, Peter decided to pledge an additional $5000 to the organisation, and his public announcement spurred other supporters to up their contributions as well.
“I’m really pleased to continue supporting the brilliant work they are doing at OzHelp,” Peter said.
“It’s essential work and very close to my heart.
“There are obviously people out there, contractors and subbies in particular, that live largely week-to-week, that would be facing financial hardship from this lockdown.
“While some restrictions are set to ease, the small residential construction sector is still being impacted.
“It’s causing a lot of distress and concern.”
Ball organisers Shannon Narracott and Britt Shephard said they were “blown away” by Peter’s donation.
“Peter’s talk early on in the night with the MC Todd Wright inspired others to be authentic and generous, and we thank Peter for this,” they added.
allinsure has also recently thrown its support behind OzHelp’s Tradies Tune Ups – free 20 minute check-ups during which participants receive health advice, including cholesterol and blood pressure checks, weight management advice and a diabetes risk assessment, and stress and depression awareness.
OzHelp’s systematic approach to employee health and well-being aims to positively impact the current psychological climate in the workplace across four key areas: harm prevention, early intervention, supporting recovery, and health initiatives.
Services include planning and advisory, training and education, workplace health screening, support and counselling, and can be tailored to meet the specific industry and workplace needs.
Programs can assist employees who work long hours or shiftwork, deal with hazardous conditions or high-pressure worksites.
The team can help staff facing tight deadlines or working in poor conditions, such as extreme temperatures, hazardous or manual tasks, and remote or isolated workers, including FIFO.
OzHelp also supports individuals tackle life’s challenges, including isolation and the impacts of working from home or being out of work due to restrictions.
Male and female support workers are available to assist employees with work worries and personal issues such as relationships, parenting, gambling, drinking and financial troubles.
Anyone requiring support can call OzHelp on 1300 694 357, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, or contact the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service, available 24/7, on 1800 512 348.