The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) in Western Australia has teamed up with Lifeline WA to introduce a peer support programme at mining and resources operations that will include modules on sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The groups, which have been advancing its mission to provide safe and inclusive workspaces, said the programme – known as Resourceful Mind – will identify “go-to” people among on-site communities, or “minders” as they become known in the program, and train them with the skills required to have important conversations with colleagues experiencing mental health challenges. If necessary, the miners will be able to guide them towards further assistance.
The mental health support programme involves training from Lifeline WA’s expert crisis supporters. It was recently determined that it would be safe for minders and fit for purpose following research by Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical Health Sciences.
CME Manager of Health, Safety and People Laila Nowell said the sexual assault and harassment modules were included during the programme’s pilot phase, as they were designed with input from the Sexual Assault Research Centre.
“CME and its member companies are already undertaking a wide range of work to eliminate unacceptable behaviour and ensure all employees feel safe and respected while at work or in work-adjacent settings. But in doing this, we have also been mindful of the need to provide the best possible support for anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault or sexual harassment.”
She also pointed out how important it is to take a trauma-informed approach for the situation, and that the introduction of the modules recognises people may not always be comfortable reporting incidents formally and may instead seek a conversation with a colleague.
“The seminars involved in the module have been made available to all mining and resources sector companies, irrespective of whether they fall under the CME banner or are participants in Resourceful Mind peer support program,” she said.
“The aim is to ensure that people who have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault feel heard, supported and are aware of other forms of assistance they can access.”
Resourceful Mind was introduced as a pilot programme last year. CME member companies Roy Hill, Mineral Resources Limited, Woodside and Simcoa, trained 132 workers to be minders.
There are now 270 minders currently enrolled in training, with further intakes planned in August and October as the program is rolled out more widely across the sector.
The agency said that Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston recently announced more than $700,000 in funding over four years to help back Resourceful Mind.
A list of Safe and Respectful Behaviour activities being undertaken by CME and its member companies is available here.