The workplace where suicidal thoughts are running rife
Up to 30 per cent of our youthful Queensland apprentices are having suicidal thoughts according to a report which also highlights a serious and often hidden problem of workplace bullying in the trades.
As Australia prepares to marks World Suicide Prevention Day this Thursday, the report out of Griffith University's Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention exposes the often hidden world of workplace bullying beyond our climate controlled offices with their well-staffed human resources departments.
Jorgen Gullestrup, CEO of the Queensland and Northern Territory branch of the industry group which advocates for suicide prevention "Mates in Construction'' which commissioned the report, said there had been enormous improvements in workplace culture within construction and mining over the past decade.
"But this report highlights we have a way to go.''
One young apprentices who was part of the 57 who participated in a series of focus groups, which was part of a wider study surveying more than 1483 apprentices across Queensland, revealed the extent of the problem with the following quote which generations of apprentices, working in an almost exclusively male environment, would relate to:
"When someone is really harassing you, if he is going off his nut and calling you all these names and stuff, just throwing tools at you and stuff like that and it gets to be extreme, but that is what you have to deal with I guess.''
Of the wider study of 1483 apprentices over 30 per cent said they had experienced bullying which is extraordinarily high compared to the national figure of 9.6 per cent determined by the 2016 Australian Workplace Barometer project.
The apprentices said the long hours of unpaid overtime and the extreme heat on work sites as well as low pay were things which sometimes ''stopped them getting out of bed in the morning.''
But it was their comments on bullying which stood out for researchers in the report which also showed 30 per cent had reported some thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months.
Dr Vicki Ross, senior research fellow and the main author of the report "The Impact of Workplace Bullying on Mental Health and Suicidality in Queensland Construction Industry Apprentices'' said the latest research suggested the majority of employers were doing the right thing in relation to treatment of apprentices.
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"But there are still a significant proportion who are not,'' Dr Ross said.
''Apprentices are in a vulnerable position, so it is important that these problems are addressed, particularly the culture within the industry which allows this to happen.''
Mates in Construction, with rugby league superstar Darius Boyd as a patron, says around 55000 on more than 500 work sites around the nation are expected to briefly down tools on Thursday to recommit to their efforts to end suicide which has high rates among men working in the construction and mining industries.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. There is also an anonymous online chat service available between 8pm and 4am AEST at Lifeline.org.au, or visit Beyond Blue's website.
For crisis assistance, call 000.
Originally published as The workplace where suicidal thoughts are running rife