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Major Drilling in Australia: McKay Drilling Focuses on Mental Health, Suicide Prevention

By October 10, 2022July 5th, 2023No Comments

As the world marks World Mental Health Day on October 10, Major Drilling employees continue to reach out to support each other and create discussion around mental health and suicide prevention.

The impact of mental health awareness is felt deeply with Major Drilling’s Australia team, McKay Drilling. In June 2021, Major Drilling began a new chapter of Australian drilling through its acquisition of McKay Drilling, a leading specialized drilling company based in Perth. Just 11 months earlier, the branch lost a very special member of its team, Joshua “Dooga” Jones, to suicide on July 31, 2020.

“Josh had been part of our team for over three years and had developed some strong relationships with staff, clients and other contractors on site,” said Aaron Earl, McKay Drilling General Manager. “He will forever remain a part of the McKay Drilling team in our hearts and minds, and a formal remembrance day, ‘Dooga Day,’ was established in his honor.”

McKay Drilling team members unite to commemorate Dooga Day 2022, a day of mental health awareness.

McKay Drilling boilermakers created “The Dooga Tree” from offcuts. The parents of Joshua “Dooga” Jones paint the tree’s first strokes of blue, a color known to represent mental health awareness. The Dooga Tree is a feature at the doorway of the McKay Drilling office in Perth as a reminder that no one is alone and as a prominent, visible reminder to continue to create discussion around mental health.

With support from worksite partners Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto, drilling teams were able to take one minute at the beginning of shifts to commemorate Dooga Day. They showed their solidarity by wearing black armbands in memory of colleagues and loved ones lost to suicide. Crews at various drilling sites took time to build fires, order pizza and barbecue together on the special day.

“The hope is that we can encourage our teams to shift the way we depict and look for signs of mental health,” said Earl. “Taking time during our workday for this remembrance makes it more acceptable for people to voice what they are going through and normalize that mental health is a shared priority.”

Additionally, a fundraising campaign to benefit mental health-focused charities achieved its goal to raise $15,000 (AUD). Earl explained the significance of mental health in the field. “To our drilling teams, Dooga Day means safety.”

The branch donated $15 for every hazard report $5 for every diamond meter safely drilled and $1 for every RC meter safety drilled on Dooga Day. “We want do this because we see the immediate impact on improving the safety of our teammates,” he said.

Learn more about making mental health and well-being for all a global priority by visiting the World Health Organization website. All employees are encouraged to reach out to their teammates, supervisor, or management team to learn about mental health support at their individual worksites.

In pictures: Dooga Day Activities held July 31, 2022

FMG Mindy Crew

FMG Tezza’s Rest Crew

FMG Mindy Crew

FMG Tezza’s Rest Crew

Rio Tinto barbecue

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