Mental health at the mines under microscope

The Western Australian Government has appointed the Centre for Transformative Work Design, part of the Future of Work Institute at Curtin University, to undertake a four-year research project to gather and evaluate data on sexual assault, harassment, mental health, drug and alcohol use, and emerging mine safety issues.

The landmark study forms part of the Government’s Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety  (MARS) program, which was launched in December 2021 to address health and safety in the WA mining industry.

The preliminary findings, expected to be completed by September this year, will be used to further develop mental health and workplace culture initiatives and improve safety outcomes.

A panel consisting of staff from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, the Mental Health Commission and the Department of Communities reviewed the submissions received as part of the tender process.

The Centre for Transformative Work Design focuses on researching and understanding work design to encourage wellbeing and greater productivity.

Mines and petroleum minister Bill Johnston said the Government would continue to work with industry and the community across all sectors to eliminate all forms of harassment, bullying and discrimination in the workplace.

“Workers and their families are the backbone of WA’s mining sector and we remain committed to ensuring they work in a safe environment,” he said.

“Important steps have already commenced to create safe, gender-equitable and inclusive workplaces through the implementation of the Stronger Together: WA’s Plan for Gender Equality plan and the WA Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Strategy.

“Health and safety champions such as the Centre for Transformative Work Design will play an important role in shaping our future workforce.”

Another project will be an independent review of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s (DMIRS) capability and enforcement model for incidents of sexual harassment and assault.

The MARS program will also provide ongoing support to DMIRS’ Mentally Healthy Workplaces Grant program and support women in the mining sector through future high-profile education and awareness campaigns.

DMIRS manages the MARS program in partnership with the Mental Health Commission, the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Department of Communities and the Women’s Interests Minister.

About Ray Chan

Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).

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