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The Australian Government will provide $6 million to MATES in Construction to boost support for the mental health and wellbeing of remote workers in the mining, energy, construction and manufacturing industries.

The Government continues to make mental health a national priority, investing a record $6.5 billion in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2021-22, doubling since 2012-13.

This includes $2.3 billion in the 2021-22 Budget for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform of the mental health system.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said MATES in Construction will work with the mining industry to drive better mental health and suicide prevention in the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and the drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workforce.

“Australian FIFO workers spend great amounts of time away from family, friends and loved ones throughout their working lives, which can cause mental health concerns,” Hunt said.

“These workers experience higher levels of psychological distress—including anxiety and depression—with 33 per cent of FIFO workers reporting ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of psychological distress.

“Our Government recognises the strain FIFO and DIDO work can cause and we are committed to working with groups like MATES in Construction to ensure these workers have access to the support they need.”

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said the program would help reduce the suicide rate, particularly for men who represent 75 per cent of all suicides.

“This program builds on the Government’s commitment to work towards zero suicides and reduce suicidal behaviour across the Australian population,” Coleman said.

“In particular, the program aims to improve the mental health of workers in industries with a high male presence.

“MATES in Construction will use existing networks and relationships within the construction and mining industries to deliver programs that benefit workers, leaders, counsellors and families of FIFO and DIDO workers across Australia.”

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline —13 11 14, Kids Helpline —1800 55 1800, or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.