Rio Tinto staff jumping with joy after mental health training in February.

Rio Tinto staff supported by the Flying Doctor

Date published

09 Oct 2020

Mental health education is vitally important for those living and working in remote areas such as Far North Queensland. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) recently joined forces with Rio Tinto to equip employees with information to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Throughout September and October, the Flying Doctor’s Far North Mental Health team is delivering essential mental health education for more than 1,400 Rio Tinto staff in Weipa.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Manager Far North Mental Health Jos Middleton said initial feedback had been very encouraging. 

“The anonymity of the interactive presentation encourages participation. In different circumstances, people may feel uncomfortable contributing as part of a large group,” she said.

“The software also allows us to receive feedback which has been very positive, highlighting the importance of the training. It’s been great to see so many Rio Tinto employees engaged in the sessions.”

Ms Middleton said the training represented the realisation of a personal career goal.

Rio Tinto staff supported by the Flying Doctor

“I have delivered clinical mental health services in Cape York for around four years now and have witnessed the impact of mental health problems if left untreated,” she said.

“Even one suicide is one too many. There are steps that we can take to reduce the incidence of suicide and better inform people as to the help available.

“I can’t express how satisfying it is to be provided with the opportunity to present to Rio Tinto employees about how to nourish their mental health as well as what they can do to address problems associated with poor mental health and wellbeing.”

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations Acting General Manager Dan Kelleher said: “Having the RFDS deliver their mental health presentation at our Education Days (E-Days) has provided great benefit to our employees here in Weipa.”

“These are unique and challenging times and there is no greater opportunity than now to learn more about mental health, including better ways to communicate and support each other when we need someone to talk to or suspect that someone near us needs a helping hand,” Mr Kelleher said.

In May 2020, the RFDS and Rio Tinto formed a partnership to help improve healthcare services across regional Queensland. Under the partnership, Rio Tinto has pledged $1.25 million to RFDS (Queensland Section) over five years.

The RFDS (Queensland Section) Far North Mental Health & Wellbeing Service is primarily funded by the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network.