The MATES Model

The MATES program is an integrated program of training and support – one without the other is insufficient. To only do training without pathways to support is potentially dangerous and to only do support without raising awareness is to simply be another Employee Assistance program. The MATES program uses training as tool to raise awareness that there is a problem with suicide and its contributing risk factors in our industry and we can all be part of the solution. The support is then provided through clear pathways to help, case management processes that ensure that workers in need of support are connected to appropriate help, and on site visits by field officers to support the site and its workers in an ongoing presence until the site closes.

MATES in Construction delivers a number of training programs on site. These programs are aimed at:

  • Raising awareness about suicide in the workplace
  • Making it easy to access help
  • Ensuring that the help offered is practical, professional and appropriate

This training falls into three categories:

General Awarness

General Awarness

GAT Training is delivered to at least 80% of workers on-site and is delivered en-masse and on-site at a time and place convenient to the builder and to MATES. This training helps to introduce workers to the nature of the problem and provides practical guidance as to how they can assist.



Connector Training is provided to those people on site who volunteer to become a Connector. A Connector is someone who is trained to help keep someone in crisis safe, while at the same time connecting them to professional help.



ASIST Training equips individuals to become an ASIST worker. These workers can be compared to the first aid officer on site. ASIST workers will talk to a person contemplating suicide with the object of making this person “safe”. Using simple skills an ASIST worker will listen to the persons’ concerns and respond to them appropriately with the object of reaching a “contract” or a “safe plan” for the worker.

If you want to find out how you can be ASIST Trained or get MATES in Construction on your site

MATES field staff will provide ongoing support for Connectors and ASIST workers on participating sites. Connectors and ASIST workers are encouraged to have “Connector meetings” on site ensuring that the program remains active and appropriate follow up is provided. Connector meetings will also allow workers to talk about their experiences as Connectors and ASIST workers with the MATES program.

Case Management

MATES employs suitably qualified case managers to assist troubled workers with an effective plan to effectively address their issue(s). MATES does not provide any services but connects the worker to appropriate services in their industry and/or area. This could include such services as their EAP, financial counselling, drug and alcohol services, grief counselling, family and relationship counselling etc. We also follow up with the worker to ensure the help they received was effective. In some cases we will also advocate for the worker with a particular service to ensure the service can meet their needs.

Field Visits

MATES employs Field Officers who go from site to site within their region to establish the MATES program on sites where it does not yet exist. If your site/company wants to be involved in the MATES program, go to the “contact us” tab on this website and your local MATES staff will contact you as soon as is practical. Once the MATES program commences on the site, the Field Officer will have contact with that site until the site comes to closure. That presence includes both training and support. It could include toolbox talks, presence at site events, regular visits to the site office and crib huts with poster, stickers etc. and to be about to talk with any workers who may want to talk with MATES. In addition they will also meet with Connectors and ASIST workers as well as provide ongoing General Awareness Training and Connector training as needed.

Critical Incident Support

Critical incidents and accidents are reasonably regular on construction sites. Sometimes these incidents can trigger emotions and reactions in workers that compromise both their safety and their mental health. When invited by the site, MATES will attend the site to support its workers after a critical incident. Part of this process is to recharge the onsite MATES network (Connectors and ASIST workers) to be vigilant in keeping an eye on their mates in case this incident has had an adverse effect on any workers.


This refers to the support a site may need after a worker or a workers family member has died by suicide. The MIC program is a suicide prevention program that encourages workers to seek help, often with the help of their mates, before an issue gets so big that they consider suicide an option. The MIC program is not an inoculation against suicide. Because suicide is a personal decision, in some cases people will chose suicide even when much help and assistance has been offered. The grief that follows a suicide can be complex, often with many unanswered questions and “what ifs”. Postvention is designed to help those grieving after a suicide and to ensure they get the appropriate help and support.

MATES in Construction Accreditation

Every construction site is eligible to achieve MATES in Construction ‘Accredited’ status.

In order for the site to be awarded ‘Accredited’ status it must meet the following criteria:

  • all the available workforce including administration staff must have received General Awareness Training (GAT)
  • the proportion of the workforce that has received General Awareness Training (GAT) must be maintained at a minimum of 80% as the workforce transitions in and out of the project or site
  • the site must have a minimum of one CONNECTOR for every twenty workers throughout the different levels and contractors on site, and
  • the site must have access to an ASSIST trained resource. Outside of the major metropolitan areas, this ASSIST resource must be on site.

When a site has achieved these criteria they will qualify for accreditation which delivers the following:

  • they will be presented with a Certificate of Accreditation by MATES in Construction, preferably at a site gathering
  • they will receive a MATES in Construction ‘Accredited’ logo that can be used on all communications
  • corflute signage that states this is a MATES in Construction ‘Accredited’ site and one that takes its responsibility for workers mental wellbeing and safety seriously
  • slides and a video clip that can be incorporated into site inductions to let new workers know this is a MATES in Construction workplace and it’s okay to ask for help
  • MATES in Construction Accredited sites are also able to participate in Life Skills Tool Box (not yet available in all states) which is a resilience building program for apprentices, and
  • ongoing support from MATES in Construction Field Officers and Case Managers to look after sites, conduct training activities, support CONNECTORS and ASSIST workers and provide face-to-face and phone counselling to workers.

Embracing the MATES in Construction program makes work sites safer, more productive, more supportive of individuals and demonstrates a real commitment to workplace safety and the mental health and wellbeing of all workers.
Your local MATES in Construction Field Officer can help achieve accreditation for your worksite. If you’d like more information please visit here.