‘Fly the Flag’ is an initiative that will see over 200 construction sites around the country flying the ‘Mates in Construction’ flag to show support and raise awareness of suicide prevention in the construction industry. It is a display to the broader community that the industry is actively involved in the prevention of suicide, and the New Dunedin Hospital project is getting right behind the initiative.

The project has a close connection with Mates in Construction NZ, the organisation dedicated to raising awareness around mental health and suicide prevention within the construction industry.

Earlier this year, the New Dunedin Hospital project hosted a Mates in Construction General Awareness Training session for local workers and project staff, along with members of the community. This concept was introduced as an important early step made as part of the Workforce Central Dunedin Jobs and Skills Hub, set up to actively provide a number of skills, training and employment initiatives, along with wraparound support services for construction workers over the span of the New Dunedin Hospital project.

Mates in Construction NZ are seen as an important part of this support, with the relationship set to be strengthened for the flag raising initiative during the week of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Mates in Construction chief executive officer Victoria McArthur says the construction industry has the highest rate of suicide among workers of any commercial sector in New Zealand.

“Flying the Flag to recognise World Suicide Prevention Day shows our industry knows we all need to work collectively, to not only start the conversations about mental health and suicide prevention, but also to know what to do if a mate is struggling.”

New Dunedin Hospital Programme Director Mike Barns says the project is proud to be supporting this initiative.

“The New Dunedin Hospital is going to need a lot of construction workers over the course of the project. It makes good sense to do all we can to promote and support wellbeing within an industry that’s so integral to this project.”

Mates flags were raised on the site of the former Cadbury distribution warehouse this week, with kai served on site to give workers the opportunity to share the Mates in Construction message that it's okay to look after your mental health and wellbeing, and to talk to each other about it.

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