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Partnership puts mental health at the forefront

Posted: 2pm 09 Sep 2021

Cleanaway has joined forces with social enterprise TradeMutt to promote conversations about mental health in the workplace.

Announcing the partnership yesterday on the eve of RUOK? Day, Cleanaway’s executive general manager human resources Joh Birgersson says it’s crucial the company provides support in a range of ways to remove the barriers to reach out.

The company has bought about 1000 workshirts from TradeMutt that pair high-vis fabric with TradeMutt’s trademark custom-designed brightly patterned material.

The idea was championed by Narangba refinery operator Matt Purontakanen, a member of the Cleanaway Hydrocarbons team.

“The whole idea is to get a conversation about mental health going and it’s so important, especially in the current situation we are in with lockdowns,” Matt says.

“I have learnt to openly talk about the struggles I’ve been through and, when I hit rock bottom about three years ago, it really helped.

“I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the support my family and a couple of my closest friends always pushing me to talk to them, then I may not be here today.”

Crucial support

As well as TradeMutt’s eye-catching workwear which sparks conversations, the organisation raises funds for a mental health support service for blue-collar workers.

Former carpenters Dan Allen and Ed Ross founded TradeMutt in 2018 after Dan lost a friend to suicide.

Some of the funds from workwear sales fund a free call and text service, called ‘This Is A Conversation Starter’, or TIACS, which has provided more than 2250 hours of mental health support from psychologists.

“Our role of our operational team members is more important than ever delivering essential waste services around the country as we have found our lives change significantly over the last year,” Joh says.

“We’re excited to announce this partnership, which is about more than just wearing a loud shirt on Fridays.

“It’s about creating more spaces where our teams around the country feel comfortable having a conversation.

“It’s about feeling seen and connecting with your fellow workers even though you may feel isolated, physically in your role or personally.

Joh says that given the opportunity, everyone has something to contribute to make another person feel valued, heard and cared for.

TradeMutt co-founder Ed Ross says working with Cleanaway is exciting.

“Their choice to work with us to create a custom design is a real sign of confidence in the shirts and their ability to start conversations at work,” Ed explains.

“Their support of the shirts has also helped fund TIACS, which is a mental health service that all of their employees can reach out to, as well as the general public if they need.”

Matt says he was pleased to be part of the partnership launch.

“We’re a pretty tight crew here at Narangba. We try and support each other whenever someone’s a bit down and everyone here thinks it’s a good idea.

“I never thought it would go this far -it’s awesome,” he says.

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