Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

OzHelp Region and National Expansion Project

Page last updated: January 2014

1. Project Profile

Project Name(s)OzHelp Foundation Expansion Project – 2007–2009
Region and National Expansion of OzHelp Services 2009-2011
Region and National Expansion Project 2011-2013
(previously referred to as Apprentices Project ACT)
Funded OrganisationOz Help ACT
Geographical AreaLocal
State/TerritoryACT and New South Wales
Approach(s)Universal, Selected and Indicated
Individual/GroupIndividual and Group
LIFE Action Areas
  • Improving the evidence base and understanding of suicide prevention
  • Building individual resilience and the capacity for self-help
  • Improving community strength, resilience and capacity in suicide prevention
  • Taking a coordinated approach to suicide prevention
  • Providing targeted suicide prevention activities
  • Implementing standards and quality in suicide prevention
Target Groups
  • Men
  • Youth
  • People who have previously attempted suicide
  • Rural and remote communities
  • Workforce
  • People affected by workforce redundancies

2. Project Description

Local project

In 2002, The OzHelp Foundation commenced its pilot operations as a support based Suicide Prevention service in Canberra following the tragic death of three young apprentices in the building and Construction Industry within a six month period in the year 2000. Through the determined lobbying of one of the apprentice's mothers, the Industry recognised the need to provide greater support to their apprentices. This initiated the foundation establishing an industry embedded proactive field based workplace service to support apprentices, workers and families struggling with life demands, personal issues and work related difficulties that led to some individuals finding themselves at risk of suicide.

This model became quickly recognised and adopted by Industry for its innovative approach and the Board of OzHelp decided to explore the possibility of the expansion of the model nationally. Under the NSPS, OzHelp was funded in 2006 to expand the model to Industry in Central & Southern NSW. The aims and objectives for Regional NSW were to raise awareness about suicide, build referral pathways for support, and provide training services for local construction & community organisations to help build local capacity in supporting the local industry and community.

The main components of the OzHelp model are as follows:

  • Community based, and works with the whole industries, not just high risk individuals
  • Raises awareness of suicide and mental health issues in the industries through a range of strategies, including workshops, printed materials and local media
  • Provides direct support through workplace visits, a 24/7 counselling line and referrals to relevant support agencies
  • Promotes the development of resilience through "Life Skills" training for apprentices and young men – areas such as nutrition, anger management, money management and drugs and alcohol
  • Provides a structure, training and support for mentoring ("Mates in Construction") for apprentices and young men, and aims to foster a workplace culture that allows for expression of vulnerabilities
  • Encourages greater collaboration and networking between referral agencies.

National expansion

Under the new NSPS strategy, OzHelp was funded in 2006 to expand the model nationally, and to scope the interest and viability of establishing affiliated OzHelp organisations in TAS, QLD, SA and WA. The aims and objectives under this project were National Expansion of The ACT Operational Service. The expansion of the OzHelp ACT Operations component involved the development of infrastructure, expertise and operational support to those states interested in establishing OzHelp programs - NSW, QLD, WA and SA. The aim was to establish the OzHelp Foundation as a national network that coordinates and supports, both intellectually and operationally, suicide prevention work in the building and construction industry Australia-wide. Top of page

3. Activities

Local project

Oz Connect

The primary OzConnect event is a lunchtime barbeque held at worksites. The fact that the barbeques are free helps to demonstrate OzHelp's interest in the workers, and encourages acceptance of Ozhelp services in what is generally an emotionally reticent industry. The OzConnect barbeque is an effective "ice-breaker" for follow-up visits by Field Officers, and encourages attendance at subsequent training sessions on suicide awareness, and the development of the Mates in Construction programs.


Field Officers conduct regular site visits to establish rapport with apprentices and workers. These visits provide a real person in whom to confide personal problems or crises, not just a number to call or an institute to approach. If needed, individuals may be referred to an OzHelp counsellor or service provider for further/ongoing counselling. The ongoing interest of the Field Officers also assists in encouraging workers to attend any subsequent training (such as GAT courses – see below), and models an openness to discussion of problems.

Training and workshops

OzHelp offers two types of training courses:
  • Those that directly target knowledge and aptitudes toward mental health and suicide. These include:
    • GAT
    • Mental Health Awareness
    • SafeTALK
  • Those that aim to develop resilience and address problems at an early stage. A range of training modules – of 4 hours duration each - are available as requested by organisations.

Mates in Construction (MIC)

The MIC project aims to ensure that about one in 15 workers on sites are trained as "connectors": taking on a role as someone who can be approached with problems, and who will connect a person to appropriate services. "Connectors" have completed the one hour GAT course, and have expressed an interest in taking on the role, receive an extra four hours of training (the SafeTALK course). "Connectors" are usually tradesmen, occupational health and safety representatives, union delegates, project managers and other personnel who are mature, and have an interest and willingness in contributing to a more supportive workplace. The mentoring training equips connectors with skills to identify warning signs among their co-workers, improve their communications skills and become aware of the sources of assistance if they need to refer a worker. Top of page

Awareness raising

Local media is used to publicise the existence and nature of OzHelp through encouraging reporting of activities. The other approach for dissemination of information is the use of brochures and factsheets that are located in key areas accessible by the target populations.


Field Officers provide initial counselling to workers in the workplace, and are able to be accessed by phone 24/7. This is one of the great strengths of the organisation – it provides a single point of contact for industry and individuals with counsellors who have a good understanding of the nature of the workplaces, and the types of most prevalent issues. The counsellors are also proactive in establishing and maintaining support for anyone at risk, and will refer to more specialised agencies (drug and alcohol, GPs, psychologists) where this is indicated.

Tradies' Tune Up (TTU)

This innovative OzHelp program involves a brief (about 15 minutes) physical and mental health screening at worksites. Offering a physical check-up appears to make it easier to engage men, who are then more likely to open up about emotional issues.

National Expansion

OzHelp ACT's role in the National Expansion was to:
  • Develop an appropriate, accountable, representative and viable legal structure in each state OzHelp operation
  • Ensure financial viability of each state OzHelp operation over the next three years, through development of strategic plans, business plans and budgets, development of fundraising plans, drafting of funding submissions and accessing industry sources of finance
  • Connect state OzHelp operations to the existing network of suicide prevention and related services for information sharing and referrals through the use of consultancy advice and the development of relationships with government agencies, mental health/suicide prevention services, NGO's and education and training authorities
  • Establish each OzHelp state operation with appropriately skilled staff resources through the design of job specifications, identification of labour sources, support for the recruitment process, selection of appropriate Field Officers and provision of training to new recruits
  • Ensure each State operation reflects local needs and context and abides by the core principles of the OzHelp Program and outcome intent. This involved re-drafting field work and Oz-BBQ service delivery templates (policies, procedures, etc.) according to state context, development of appropriate counselling protocols and referral processes and development/monitoring of an accreditation system and on-going quality improvement processes Top of page

4. Funding

  • Round 1
    • NSPP funding
      • 2006/07 - $402,267
      • 2007/08 - $379,080
      • 2008/09 - $388,653
    • % project funding - 100%
  • Round 2
    • NSPP funding
      • 2009/10 - $635,000
      • 2010/11 - $179,774
    • % project funding - 100%
  • Round 3
    • NSPP funding
      • 2011/12 - $370,000
      • 2012/13 - $476,906
    • % project funding - 100%

5. Staffing

  • Round 1 (2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09)
    • Number staff positions funded (FTE) - 2
    • Number staff positions filled (FTE) - 2
  • Round 2 (2009/10, 2010/11)
    • Number staff positions funded (FTE) - 2
    • Number staff positions filled (FTE) - 2
  • Round 3 (2011/12, 2012/13)
    • Number staff positions funded (FTE) - 2
    • Number staff positions filled (FTE) - 2