Events, Features

MARS on a mission

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AusIMM’s International Mine Health and Safety Conference will tackle some of the biggest issues facing the industry, including mental health and workplace culture.

When the AusIMM International Mine Health and Safety Conference kicks off from April 15–17, it will get underway with a line-up of industry-leading keynote speakers, panel discussions and a suite of technical presentations.

One speaker keen to take the stage is Edith Cowan University MARS Centre director Tim Bentley. And he’s got a message for the industry.

“We all need to play our role in creating healthy workplaces with a culture of safety and respect into the future,” Bentley told Safe to Work. “My hope is that there is as much collaboration as possible in developing solutions to pave a way ahead for the Australian mining industry.”

The AusIMM International Mine Health and Safety Conference (formally known as MineSafe) serves as a platform to discuss the latest developments, practices and solutions in mine health and safety. Bentley’s address will focus specifically on how the work of the Edith Cowan University Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) Centre is tackling mental health, bolstering positive culture, and preparing workers for the future of mining.

The MARS Centre’s mission is to revolutionise mine safety through educating workers and future leaders, as well as driving research into fostering a culture of safety and respect in the mining sector.

“Mining is a great industry, and we want to foster an environment based on healthy, sustainable work where people from all backgrounds can grow and thrive,” Bentley said.

“If we can help contribute to that by helping to lift work health and safety capabilities in the sector, and helping people tackle the challenges around managing psychosocial hazards, then I think the industry’s future will look so much brighter.”

Bentley spent his early career on the front lines of some of the UK and New Zealand’s toughest industries. He saw first-hand the need for strong physical and psychosocial health and safety advocacy to protect workers.

“It’s important to look across the board woke system and see how different factors interact to produce negative outcomes that we sometimes see in the workplace,” he said.

“Conversations around mental health and issues facing people from diverse backgrounds looking to enter the industry need to be at the fore.”

The MARS Centre partners with Edith Cowan to provide current and incoming mining professionals with focused development through training and courses. It’s all part of what Bentley said is MARS’ mission to create solutions with a systems-thinking approach.

“We want to do research with the industry, not on the industry,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the industry to develop leaders fully equipped to rise to the future of mining and its challenges.”

Bentley hopes the AusIMM International Mine Health and Safety Conference will again prove to be a platform primed to equip attendees with the resources they need to take that future in hand.

“I’m really thrilled with the interest we’ve had from the industry in what we’re trying to do, and a willingness to engage with our mission,” he said.

“We have seen real positive attitudes from good people in these organisations that really want to make a difference. I’m really optimistic about the future.” 

This feature also appears in the March-April issue of Safe to Work.

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