This report provides a summary of a research project undertaken by the University of South Australia for MATES in Construction (MIC) South Australia. The purpose of this project was to explore the impacts of MIC SA on those who had participated in General Awareness Training or Connector Training specifically. This was achieved in two phases:
(1) A cross-sectional survey;
(2) Semi-structured interviews.
Phase 1 of the project involved a survey of those who had participated in MIC training between June 2014 and December 2016. A total of 83 valid surveys were received. Participants reported high confidence in their ability to talk to mates (73% of participants) and family (79%) when they were personally having a tough time, and more confidence still when mates (88%) and family (87%) were experiencing a tough time. Almost 20% of participants reporting using MIC services since attending training, and 12% reported being aware of a mate doing the same. Further, approximately half (49%) of participants reported using what they learnt at MIC training to assist with a range of personal issues and/or circumstances, with the most common being to communicate with mates (36% of participants), communicate with family/loved ones (25%), and for work-related stress (31%). Fewer participants reported using the training to address drug/alcohol related issues (14%), financial pressures (10%) and suicidal thoughts (10%).
Phase 2 of the project involved follow-up, semi-structured interviews with participants who opted in after completing the survey in Phase 1. The purpose of this phase was to complement the survey by obtaining a more in-depth understanding of the experiences of those who had participated in MIC training. Ten telephone interviews were conducted and included in data analysis. Eight major themes were identified: 1) Setting the scene; 2) MIC as unique and valuable; 3) Raising awareness and building skills to respond to suicide; 4) Engaging MIC to support professional and personal needs; 5) Using MIC services and skills to support mates at work; 6) Applying MIC outside of work; 7) Factors confounding the impact of MIC; and 8) Suggestions for improvements and future needs.
Combined, the results of both phases of this project confirm that MIC SA is having a positive impact on those who undertake the training. Those who have undertaken GAT and/or Connector training report bringing MIC knowledge and skills into conscious play in both their workplace and their personal lives. Consequently, the program appears to be achieving its aims of raising awareness and building capacity for the South Australian construction industry to effectively respond to suicide.