Groundbreaking Tradie mental health counselling service TIACS turns 3
Australia’s leading industry funded mental health counselling service for tradies, truckies, rural and blue-collar workers, TIACS (This Is A Conversation Starter) turned three years old this month and according to many across the country, the service is one of the most important initiatives to be created for the industry. Its launch was also timely due to the challenges of COVID.
“TIACS is now one of the fastest growing support services for the tradie, truckie, rural and blue-collar sectors. Our mental health counselling service is absolutely free for workers and the people that care about them. Every month demand for our service grows as blue-collar workers across the country struggle with the impact of business failures, relationship breakdowns, health challenges and workplace issues,” said Jason Banks, Head of Partnerships at TIACS.
“Our counselling services are provided via phone and text five days a week from 8am to 10pm. They are completely confidential and every time someone contacts us for help, they continue to speak to the same qualified counsellor so there is continuity and confidence in the help provided.
“In three years, we have achieved a lot and supported many people. Based on the rise in the number of people contacting us, we have much more to do.
“Tradies are doing it tough. Building sites and manufacturing environments are busy loud places where people don’t do a lot of one-on-one talking. They can also be very lonely and isolating places. Yet, these work environments can be places where people are struggling and may not have anyone to talk with.
“TAICS is very much about giving people a place they can turn to when they need to talk, without judgement. It’s what we all need really.”
TIACS was founded by Ed Ross and Daniel Allen three years ago. The well-known duo and 2023 Australian of the Year finalists who also founded TradeMutt five years ago, a social impact workwear brand that consists of a range of bright cheerful clothing designed to get tradies ‘to start a conversation’ with each other.
TradeMutt also introduced Funky Shirt Fridays, like casual office Fridays, to give tradies a reason to wear our cheerful clothing and get people talking. Today, TradeMutt clothing is worn all over the country every day by blue-collar workers and every shirt has a QR code that can be swiped and it takes the person wearing the shirt directly to TIACS so they can call or text for a chat. Profits from TradeMutt’s operations help to fund TIACS.
TradeMutt and TIACS have single-handedly changed the way the blue-collar community across Australia interact with each other about how they are feeling and are encouraged to reach out for support.
“Five years ago, Ed and Dan had a vision to help make a once invisible issue impossible to ignore; encouraging tradies to talk with each other about how they were feeling and to provide them with a dedicated free mental health counselling service,” Banks said.
“The TradeMutt clothing range is designed to encourage tradies to start a conversation, and TIACS is designed to continue the conversation.
“Nationally, we really need to ensure we increase awareness of TIACS as suicide among tradies is twice the national average for men.
“Men make up the majority of all callers. Tradies are concerned about a broad range of issues but some of the key themes include the financial impact of job and business losses and relationship issues.
“Tradies face unique issues and value being able to seek help from a support service that understands the challenges they are facing.
“Our priority is to continue to provide a quality relatable service and support the increasing demand for TIACS’ services. It is hard to believe what we have achieved in three years and we are incredibly proud but also humbled by the extraordinary support we have received. Industry is really getting behind us to support the mental wellbeing of employees.
“It would be great to see everyone wearing TradeMutt clothing regardless of their industry as a show of support for Australia’s tradies and blue-collar workers. They really do the hard yards. The more businesses and workplaces that embrace TIACS the better.
“Workplaces can encourage staff to wear TradeMutt clothing and also promote awareness of TIACS across their worksites. We also need financial support to fund our services, so if businesses are looking for an organisation to partner with, we have a range of opportunities available, and we are a bloody good cause.”