IQA meeting puts mental health front and centre

The annual general meeting and technical meeting of the Institute of Quarrying Australia’s (IQA’s) New South Wales Central West sub-branch, which will be held on 11 September in Orange, will include a presentation designed to help quarry managers and supervisors better understand stress and the mental health of their workforce.

“As an industry, we rightly focus very strongly on the physical safety of our workplaces but there has been limited focus on mental health,” sub-branch chairman and secretary Mitchell Bland commented. “We work in a tough industry – the hours can be long and pressure to meet targets can be high – and the [sub-branch] committee recognised that this was an issue that we needed to know more about.”

The presentation aims to equip attendees with practical tools to assist them in identifying, managing and providing support for at-risk workers. Some of the topics that will be covered include signs to look out for, effective communication, how to deal with anger and threatening behaviour, maintaining good mental health, providing and finding support, and available mental health services.

It will be delivered by Di Gill of the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), a statewide program that is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health and managed by the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

“RAMHP was set up in response to challenging times in the agricultural sector, and after a number of years of great work in that area, [it is now] looking to use that expertise to assist the quarrying and mining industries,” Bland explained. “RAMHP has officers in rural centres across NSW and is ideally placed to provide training and awareness to our industry.”

Industry-wide issue

Although the presentation was developed for quarry managers and supervisors, Bland said anyone involved in the quarrying industry was welcome to attend and learn more about the important issue of mental health.

He added that the meeting would conclude with a discussion on the possible statewide rollout of a mental health program for workers, and that representatives from other NSW sub-branches would be in attendance to provide further input on this plan.

“RAMHP are currently investigating funding arrangements with other state health departments, so potential exists for the program to be rolled out in other states too,” Bland noted.

Commenting on the initiative, IQA general manger Paul Sutton said, “I applaud the IQA’s Central West sub-branch for addressing the issue of mental health. I strongly encourage all IQA branches and sub-branches to consider putting mental health on their agendas and get as much information on this topic out to our members."

Sutton recommended that quarry workers suffering from stress and depression seek early intervention by discussing the matter with their general practitioner. He also suggested the Access to Allied Psychological Services program might be useful for short-term intervention.

Other mental health resources include beyondblue, which provides information on anxiety and depression, and Lifeline, a 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention service.

To register for the NSW Central West sub-branch meeting, visit

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