Keep up to date with what's happening at Switched On Group as we continue to enhance environments for whānau, businesses and communities across Aotearoa.

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Flying the Flag for Suicide Prevention

8 September 2022

Switched On Group raised the ‘MATES in Construction’ flag at an event on Thursday 8 September to signify a commitment to preventing suicide in the construction industry.

Held in partnership with MATES and software company simPRO, the mental-health focused ‘Fly the Flag’ event discussed practical ways for tradespeople and trades companies to support positive wellbeing and prevent suicide, in alignment with World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday 10 September.

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Field Officer Maddi from MATES in Construction presenting a Toolbox Talk 

Switched On Group Chief Executive Chris Hughes has personal experience with suicide. He lost his brother Jonny, who was part of the family business, in early 2019. He says that mental health and suicide prevention education in the industry is critical, and that it will take a long-term, whole-of-sector approach to drive change.

“Our family and business know first-hand what it is like to lose someone to suicide, and we are working closely with others in our industry to address this important issue. We want tradespeople to feel not only supported, but equipped to take positive action to benefit their mental health, and the hauora of their teams and whānau. Working with MATES is just one way we are encouraging wellbeing conversations,” he says.


Chief Executive of Switched On Group Chris Hughes

MATES in Construction CEO, Victoria McArthur says the ‘Fly the Flag’ event each year raises awareness of the extent of the problem in the construction industry in New Zealand, with on average,  one construction  worker taking their own life every week. 

“Our industry is vibrant, exciting, and integral to the New Zealand economy, but it can also be a challenging industry to work in. With long hours, transient working conditions, job insecurities and masculine stoic beliefs, this can impact on our people’s mental health and wellbeing. Coming together to Fly the Flag shows our industry knows we all need to work collectively, to not only start conversations about mental health and suicide prevention, but also to know what to do if a mate is struggling, she says.


Switched On Group partnered with simPRO and MATES in Construction to fly the flag

simPRO, a field service management software company for the trade industry, have supported staff in New Zealand to undergo MATES training and, knowing client Switched On Group’s story, wanted to bring a Fly the Flag event to the team in Christchurch.

“We’re proud to help amplify mental health conversations among our clients,” says Milan Kumar, New Zealand Sales Director at simPRO. “We were honoured to bring this event to Switched On Group, who are personally aligned with our commitment to building awareness of, and helping improve, workers’ mental and emotional wellbeing in the construction industry.”


Switched On Group has rolled out several initiatives as part of its ‘wellbeing calendar’ over the past four years, including MATES training, men’s health events, free counselling for staff and whānau, a flexible working policy, on-site massages, talks from wellbeing industry leaders and regular conversations as part of trades toolbox talks.


“We can always do more to support the mental health of our people, whānau and industry. As the flag flies outside our offices this September, we want to encourage all tradespeople and businesses to start the hard conversations and prioritise the little things that benefit their wellbeing. It’s the small and brave steps that make the biggest difference,” Hughes says.


 Switched On Group's Christchurch branch proudly displaying the MATES in Construction flag

MATES flags are also on show at Switched On Group sites in Nelson, Blenheim, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne throughout September.  


For more information about Switched On Group’s wellbeing initiatives, contact Chief Executive Chris Hughes at: