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LifeSpanBiz - New training supports local businesses to help struggling staff and customers

Media release

Local businesses now have the opportunity to access effective and very affordable training to help their staff to be skilled and confident in responding to someone in crisis, as part of a new LifeSpan Newcastle Suicide Prevention Business Strategy - LifeSpanBiz.

LifeSpanBiz will be launched at a free corporate breakfast on March 27 at NOAH'S On the Beach.

The discounted training options include a one-hour online course called Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) for $10 per person, or a two day workshop from Lifeline for a discounted rate of $100 per person.

At the breakfast, Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes, owner of Hunter Headline and founder of The Marketing GP Holly Martin, MATES in Mining CEO Andrew McMahon and owner of Pride Dry Cleaning and Laundry Jennie Lyons will speak about why they are supporting the initiative.

Ms Lyons, who had a member of staff die by suicide, welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the program.

“Businesses need simple, practical, low cost ideas to help staff to respond appropriately if their colleagues or customers are struggling,” Ms Lyons said.

“This initiative is great because suicide is a difficult topic to talk about and this helps us to learn what we can do and say to help in these often challenging situations.”

At the event, Everymind director Jaelea Skehan will outline the suicide prevention strategy, including the opportunities local businesses have to sign up and become a LifeSpanBiz Partner or LifeSpanBiz Champion by committing to training a percentage of their staff in these evidence-based programs.

Ms Skehan called on local businesses to get involved because, to make a difference, the whole community needs to work together to reduce suicide and its impacts on families, communities and businesses.

“Businesses play a vital role in suicide prevention. We know that building a safety net for people at work is critical, but training people in suicide prevention skills also has a flow on effect to the whole community,” Ms Skehan said.

“From talking to businesses over the years, I have found that many recognise the importance of suicide prevention initiatives and want to support them, but don’t know what to do or how to get involved.

"Suicide is everybody’s business, and there are simple things we can all do to play a role in preventing suicide by learning the skills to have conversations with someone we are worried about and how to support them in seeking help."

Jaelea Skehan

“I’d encourage business owners and leaders to come along to find out more about the practical steps they can take to get started.”

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast regional manager Rob Sams, who has a background in risk management, said having staff members in crisis or bereaved by suicide presents productivity, and work health and safety risks.

“Businesses can enhance their work, health and safety approaches by ensuring staff have the skills to recognise and then respond to peers or clients who might be considering suicide,” Mr Sams said.

“Undertaking training makes it easy for leaders and managers to be able to have conversations with staff and customers who are doing it tough.”

LifeSpan has been developed by the Black Dog Institute with a four-site trial funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation. The Newcastle LifeSpan trial is being coordinated locally by an alliance of agencies, including Everymind and Lifeline Hunter Central Coast, who are working together locally using the best evidence to prevent suicide.

The LifeSpanBiz initiative is being supported by the Hunter Business Chamber and Hunter Headline.

Published: 13 March 2018

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