Early in May I had the opportunity to attend the Minesafe International 2017 conference in Perth, Western Australia.
The conference is designed to ensure that health and safety within the minerals industry remains a key component of the industry, with an ever-increasing position of awareness. I was honoured to receive an AusIMM Women in Mining Network (AusIMM WIMnet) Award to enable my attendance at this conference. AusIMM WIMnet is a national initiative that supports the attraction and retention of women in the minerals industry. This award provided financial assistance to attend this industry conference where I was able to present findings from my current research into mental health in the workplace.
As Associate Director of the Centre for Resources, Health and Safety at the University of Newcastle, my team and I are interested in the mental health and wellbeing of employees working within the mining industry. This conference provided a fantastic opportunity to showcase our latest research into the prevalence of mental health problems in the Australian metalliferous mining industry. Mining is a typically high-stress, male-dominated industry and our research has clearly shown that mental health problems are common among metalliferous mining employees and at least equivalent, if not higher in some instances, than comparable Australian populations. The findings demonstrated a gap between those with mental health problems and help-seeking behaviour, suggesting potential targets for workplace mental health programs.
I am pleased to report that this research was awarded the AusIMM Award for ‘Best Paper’ at the conference, with the paper published in the Minesafe International 2017 Proceedings.
It was heartening to see an increasing awareness of employee mental health and wellbeing at the conference. The theme was certainly topical, with the issue of mental health at work raised by different presenters at different times, allowing for some interesting discussions. I found the AusIMM delegation to be friendly and welcoming, and networking events to be well-organised and enjoyable. I would like to thank the AusIMM organisers for providing the opportunity to present our research in such an accommodating forum, and look forward to working with the mining industry on issues relating to health and safety going forward, and presenting at future events.