NEW ‘Peer Support Program’

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Converge International congratulate and celebrate the 1-year anniversary of one of Australia’s largest aluminium smelters, Boyne Smelters (BSL)’s, highly regarded Peer Support Program – a mental health platform, where the focus is on looking after your mates.   


At the launch, Queensland Mental Health Ambassador and three-time Olympian, Libby Trickett, shared her own personal experiences to encourage more staff to recognise the signs of poor mental health.  


Converge International and BSL developed its Peer Support Program in December 2017.  Since then, 41 volunteer employees have been trained with the necessary skills to propel initial conversations, which instigate support and assistance within the workplace. The Peer Support Team has also received ongoing training and support from Converge International to deepen their understanding of the importance of their roles. 


BSL Site General Manager, Joe Rea, said asking for help was recognised as one of the hardest steps for anyone struggling with mental health.


‘Often the thought of picking up the phone to talk to a stranger, even though they’re a trained professional, is too much for a lot of us,’ Mr Rea said. ‘All too often we see the signs of someone not coping at work, but we don’t know how to start a conversation or point someone in the right direction. Our aim at BSL in implementing the Peer Support Program was to remove the stigma of putting your hand up if things aren’t right, and to put people on the right path to recovery as quickly as possible, just as you would with any other injury or health problem.’


‘It’s part of our “mates looking out for mates” ethos. Some of your best mates can be those who work alongside you. Or sometimes the person you want to reach out to is just someone you know you can trust,’ Mr Rea said. ‘Being fit for work is not just about your physical wellbeing. We work in a heavy industrial environment at BSL and if your mind’s not on the game, a workplace hazard can become a major risk. It’s our duty of care to ensure we’re all performing at our best in this environment, not just for ourselves but for the safety of our workmates.’ 


Converge International site training co-ordinator Stacy Gernetzky said she was extremely proud of all the peer support workers who had volunteered to be a part of the program.


‘I truly welcomed the opportunity to be part of the training with these peer support workers, I am enormously proud of them and to be part of something bigger, like this, is just absolutely wonderful. It has been great to equip them with the skills and the knowledge they need to be confident in the workplace in delivering the program,’ she said.  


The program has been an outstanding success at BSL and has attracted much interest in the region by other industries, businesses and community services. Last week BSL invited interested stakeholders to their showcase event to show how the company has played an integral part in removing the stigma of mental illness.


Taken from an original article in the Gladstone News:



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