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Podcast Episode 1: “Building Networks of Safety”


Sep 1, 2020

The first episode in our new podcast A World Where LivingWorks is all about moving our minds from the concept of managing risk to building networks of safety when it comes to suicide prevention and mental wellbeing. In “Building Networks of Safety” we talk with Dr. Bruce Turley and Edmund McCombs.

Bruce is a well-known LivingWorks contributor and has been part of the team for 20 years, working on design, development, and evaluation. He walks us through the evolution of suicide first aid training and discusses how approaches have shifted over the past decades to current best practices in training.

Edmund McCombs is the Head of External Partnerships and General Manager, Social Sustainability for global property and construction company LendLease. Edmund pulls back the curtain on how a global workplace in the property and construction industry is at the forefront of shifting from incident management of physical safety to thinking about supporting staff as people bringing their whole selves to work daily and what that means for their physical and mental health and safety.

Bruce met Bryan Tanney, one of LivingWorks founders, when the latter came to a conference in Australia with a suitcase full of LivingWorks material in a suitcase and a keynote speech to give at a conference. A conversation over coffee and fast forward to today when Bruce guides many of the updates to the suite of programs LivingWorks offers.

“I noticed straight away when I became involved with LivingWorks and it’s stayed with us very strongly throughout...the strong emphasis on the quality of the helping relationship. A lot of programs, particularly in the 90s around suicide prevention, were very much about checklists and ticking boxes and going through a series of tasks, and that is important, but for LivingWorks, that’s always been embedded in the context of the quality of the helping process and the helping relationship.”

He goes on to say that he values the strong emphasis LivingWorks places on attitudes that one brings to a helping relationship and how you relate to others. Edmund echoes the importance of attitudes and how those around mental health are changing in the construction industry and property management realm.

“If I look at the Lendlease journey when it comes to where we sit today around mental health, it probably started in 2013, where we did a global people survey of our employees around the world. And in that survey, we had some interesting statistics where 16% of our people self-identified as being at high risk for depression, 9% self-identified in a workplace survey around having high levels of stress. We immediately acted on it and put together a health and well-being framework.”

Now in 2020, any Lendlease site you encounter will have an employee trained in mental health. By partnering with LivingWorks and industry leader in onsite peer support, Mates in Construction and other organizations, Lendlease trains their employees in a variety of programs ranging from suicide awareness to suicide intervention with workers opting for the role they best feel suited for. A network of safety on site, in the office, and at home as you don’t leave your skills, or your problems, at work.

Listen here for the entire podcast and watch the site each Tuesday for new episodes. Next up, Episode 2 “Protecting Our Protectors” where host Kim Borrowdale talks to representatives from the South Carolina Army National Guard (USA) and Veteran counselling and support organization Open Arms Australia.

Photo courtesy of Lendlease.