MTAA Super set about gathering its own statistics. We were shocked to learn – or have it confirmed – that when you compare it to the national statistics its members were highly over-represented in certain categories. Most certainly there were hot spots: young males, rural. The membership, like a lot of national industry superannuation funds, is a bit of a cross-section of the Australian community. But we were overly represented in these categories.
We decided we had to do something about that. MTAA Super are not experts in the field so we talked to some experts. Lifeline was one through an association we had in the ACT that we talked to a bit, and their educational working programs interested us. And that led to the running of a pilot where Lifeline and MTAA Super went out and talked to some employers and others where a suicide had occurred in the work place. Everywhere we went with this pilot a recurring theme emerged that with 20/20 hindsight the signs were always there.
There were signs for the employers, the work mates, the family. They saw it in hindsight but at the time hadn’t put two and two together. So MTAA Super set about this pilot program called ‘Read the Signs,’ which it then launched and I’m pleased to say is still running today and very successfully. The Fund developed a whole heap of things like cards with dots points, and the phone number about reading the signs. The presenters would leave them in a tearoom. Everyone sort-of said jokingly, ‘not for me thanks’. But they were all gone by the end of the session. So we tried to discover ways that we could get to people, without their having to lose face if they take the card ‘for a friend.’
The ‘Read the Signs’ program has been excellent most worthwhile. MTAA Super diverted some of its discretionary funds within its marketing budget towards the program in the initial stages. To put that in context, If the program succeeded in intervening in one life, say someone in their early 20s, MTAA would have, through the insurer, probably not had to pay out something around $125,000. Two lives, if we’ve intervened, paid for that entire program… I am pleased to say, MTAA has done some follow-up research into its own statistics and the death-bysuicide rate within the fund has come down in the time that the program’s been running.