A Chance for Change – When Speaking Up is Manning Up
We’re told to find our ‘passion’, follow a dream, discover a vocation in life.
If it comes to you, then it’s a calling.
That’s what happened to Central Queensland coal miner and WorkPac employee Ivan Mardones. Ivan faced his depression and anxiety demons and founded a not for profit charity named ‘A Chance for Change’ which promotes mental health amongst men.
The process towards positive mental health for Ivan included finding a different way to express his values like love, loyalty and hard work.
It is summed up in the organisation’s motto, where ‘speaking up’, unlike hardening up, ‘is manning up’.
A Chance for Change gives men the opportunity to talk by creating familiarity in delivering services both on and off site, Ivan said.
The group has 33 ambassadors on sites around the country, and a barbershop in East Brisbane called Stigma Cutz. A Brisbane based coffee shop called Stigma Cutz will also be opening soon.
As a coal miner, Ivan found that despite the efforts to promote men’s mental health on so many levels, there was something missing at the ground level.
“I've got different stages I'm working on in the strategic plan, to get to where we want to be. One of the key elements is social connection,” he said.
“So, I thought if we create places where mundane things such as getting a haircut can become an experience of social connection, then we're one step closer to breaking those barriers that have formed over the last 50-100 years in this country.
“And one of the little twists is having the Mental Health First Aid-certified barber.
“… the barber can assess when someone's in need, or they've got no idea where to go for help; or someone needs to help someone else, but they don't know where to start. They can get that information while they're getting the haircut.”
WorkPac is also fortunate that one of its clients, Chris Doherty, is an Ambassador at A Chance for Change.
Preventable death is the lasting impression Chris took from 12 years as a volunteer State Emergency Service member working on the Queensland-New South Wales border.
Chris entered the mining industry in Queensland and has since taken on a pro-active role in promoting positive mental health through his work as an ambassador for A Chance for Change.
It was a chance to continue to make a contribution, Chris said.
“I joined up (to the SES) as soon as I could, straight out of school, and was in it up until about 2012 when I started doing fly-in, fly-out,” Chris said.
“One of the things that we did fairly often was body recoveries from the bush, and quite a number of the body recoveries were suicide victims.
“… it moved me to want to try to help that side of things as well, …, so I thought I'd volunteer my help somewhere else.”
The group gave him the opportunity to help deliver services at the ground level, said Chris.
“Oh man, a lot of the ones I've seen myself are just guys missing their children or missing out on family gatherings, family outings,” he said.
“Guys just get lonely and bummed about it really and get down and withdraw into themselves a little bit, or get a little bit angrier than they usually are.
“So yeah, it doesn't hurt to go, ‘hey man, you want to talk?’ and once someone's realised that you're willing to listen to them and listen to them without jumping in over the top of them and; that you're not judging them for who they are or anything like that.
“You're just there as a set of ears for them and to try and help them. They're generally pretty open towards seeking help.”
A Chance for Change had the full support of WorkPac in Townsville, said Townsville Business Centre Manager Elisabeth Kelemete.
had processes in place for identifying and addressing mental health issues, there was always room for intervention said Lis.
The business centre had donated $1000 through the WorkPac ‘Gi
veBack’ program to help A Chance for A Change set up the ‘Stigma Cutz’ barbershop in Brisbane.
The ambassadors were welcomed at toolbox meetings and pre-starts to promote the service and had already made their presence felt among staff, she said.
As a WorkPac employee, you can access free psychology through our Employee Assistance Program. To make an appointment, call the 24/7 number 1800 056 076. You can learn more here.
Alternatively, there are other services you can reach out to:
Lifeline has a 24-hour crisis line that you can call for support, and many valuable resources are available on their website. You can call on 13 11 14 or visit their website here:
Beyond Blue also have a 24-hour line you can reach on 1300 22 4636, and their website offers plenty of advice and information: