QLD/NT CEO wins LiFE award for Excellence in Leadership
LiFE Award Judging Committee Chair and Suicide Prevention Australia Director Dr Vanessa Lee said of the awards and recipients: “We were so impressed with the diversity and quality of nominations this year showcasing the exciting, innovative and inclusive range of programs being undertaken within the field.”
“The nominees ranged from mainstream programs to local ‘grass roots’ organisations and dedicated individuals. The Awards celebrate the commitment and energy of the nominees and their vital contribution to the wellbeing of all Australian communities.”
In the suicide prevention sector, it is not often that we get to talk about tradies, but, the Board of SPA wanted to honour a plumber by trade. Starting his career in the construction industry, Jorgen Gullestrup saw first hand the impact of suicide on the workers, their families and friends.
Following the 2006 AISRAP investigation into suicide in the Queensland Commercial Building and Construction industry, Jorgen (who, at the time was State Secretary of the Plumbers Union) decided it was time to take action to save the lives of construction workers.
Ten years ago, with the help of the Building Employees Redundancy Trust, Jorgen worked together with the construction industry to develop the MATES in Construction program. MATES vision is to be Australia’s leading industry suicide prevention organisation focusing on raising awareness, building capacity, providing help and research.
Within the first five years of operation, an 8% reduction in Queensland construction industry suicide rates was achieved. Jorgen has presided over the expansion of the program from Queensland which is now reaching over 138,000 workers across four Australian States.
Following the completion of his Masters in Suicidology, he recently won a Churchill Fellowship to investigate and understand approaches to workplace suicide prevention and mental health globally in countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, UK, USA, and New Zealand.
Into all of his conversations with colleagues, businesses, unions and community, Jorgen brings a mix of his personal experience with suicidal behaviour, his practical nature and a passion for positive change. His leadership has changed the landscape of the entire construction industry in how they train and support their apprentices, and saved many lives and much grief for families, friends and colleagues.
Jorgen has never lost sight of measuring the impact of the MATES in Construction program, resulting in a scalable suicide intervention model that is now translating into the mining sector and inspiring other industries.
From Plumber to Suicidologist and ‘change maker’, the SPA board is proud to acknowledge Jorgen Gullestrup with this year’s LiFE award for Excellence in Leadership.