The helpline is operated by Hunterlink Recovery Services, a successful community-based organisation that was founded in Newcastle, with the support of unions, philanthropists and industry.
Member for Charlton and Australian Government Minister, Greg Combet, said he was proud to see a local Newcastle service widen its support nationally.
“It is a great result when a highly successful local service like Hunterlink, which is supported by a broad cross-section of the community, is able to expand to help people nationwide,” Mr Combet said.
“Workers can face a range of issues that affect their ability to work or return to work after experiencing trauma or facing personal issues.
“This is at a cost to not only the business but importantly to the wellbeing of workers and their families – that is why I am here today to support the rollout of this valuable service.”
National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Paddy Crumlin, said Hunterlink has been a crucial lifeline for workers in the maritime sector.
“Only very recently, there have been tragic workplace deaths in the maritime sector up in Newcastle, and Hunterlink has swung into action each time at the request of employers, contacting workers and providing the support they needed to deal with distress at seeing a friend and colleague killed on the waterfront or pass away on a ship,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The feedback we have received from employers is that Hunterlink’s services to workers was outstanding and we congratulate Hunterlink for their efforts in times of crisis.
“We have always pushed hard for better safety standards and we won’t rest until they are achieved, but we are extremely grateful for the support services Hunterlink has provided in these difficult times.”
National President of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Tony Maher, said that some industries, such as mining and maritime, do experience fatalities at work as a result of safety issues.
“Workers can be affected by a variety of stresses and we strongly believe it’s critical that they receive the support they need to be able to get back on their feet,” Mr Maher said.
“Workers are not just people who make the economy work – they are also parents, siblings, partners and friends and that is why services designed to help their overall wellbeing are greatly valued.”
Manager of Hunterlink Recovery Services, Paul Karras, said Hunterlink offers support services tailored specifically to the individual needs of people in the workplace, their families and the community generally.
“Mental health and substance abuse issues can be overcome with the right support,” Mr Karras said.
“Hunterlink Recovery Services provides preventative and proactive interventions for early detection, identification and resolution of substance abuse issues and personal problems that are adversely affecting an employee's ability to work or capacity to return to work.
“I would like to thank our supporters, including the MUA, CFMEU, METL and industry organisations such as Newcastle Stevedores and Svitzer who have been invaluable partners”, Mr Karras said.
The Hunterlink National Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For assistance through this service, please call 1800 554 654.
Mark Davis (Minister Combet’s office) 0400 295 560
Katie Ford (Maritime Union of Australia) 0419 265 683