Construction champions mental health

Co-founder Michael Harding said the event was successful. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

A Keysborough event attracted 5000 people on Sunday 29 May with $100,000s raised to go towards mental health charity beyond blue.

Organised by CRE group, the family fun day – Dig Deep – was two years in the making with the idea formulated during the lockdowns of 2020 by co-founders of Dig Deep Michael Harding and Patrick Doheny.

Mental illness is a significant issue in the construction industry with one person committing suicide every two days, on average, according to figures by the Australian Men’s Health Forum.

Amid much societal discussion about workplace safety at construction sites, workers are six times more likely to die by suicide than workplace accidents.

“Our target was to reach out to that individual and show that it is okay to talk out and reach to the support systems,” he said.

“One thing I have learned from this is there are lots of people that want to help, but it is very difficult to get engagement from the individual because it is so personal and hard to get people to seek the support.”

Ten construction companies came together to raise awareness about men’s mental health and destigmatise the notion of reaching out.

“The support that this event has got shows that people are there and want to help if those suffering speak up.”

Mr Harding expressed thanks to Beyond Blue for their ongoing support of people in the construction industry as well the Serbian Sports Centre and Gaelic Athletic Association who provided the venue in Keysborough.

Several companies also offered services such as event management and equipment for the event pro-bono to increase the money directed to Beyond Blue.

Mr Harding estimates about $350,000 was raised on the day, with tickets costing $18.50 and 25 exhibitors showing off their latest technology.

There was also food and entertainment and a kids’ area, but the trademark event was the William Adams Caterpillar Global Operator Challenge.

The event sees equipment operators face off in a test of agility, speed and accuracy to crown the best in Australia.

That went – coincidentally – to Mr Doheny who will now go to Japan to compete on the global stage.

After Sunday’s success, there is cause for optimism that another event could be held in the next couple of years as Dig Deep targets a sum of $1 million to go towards Beyond Blue.

“It was a phenomenal result, it was abolsutely massive. We didn’t want to run an event where the funding would just breakeven and the funds we received were massive.

“But it was also about raising awareness about the issue which I think we all did: keep digging and keep talking.”

Mr Harding also wished to thank the exhibitors and sponsors.