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Ex construction ‘Mate’ takes Work Health and Safety Board chair

Former Mates in Construction CEO Jorgen Gullestrup has been appointed as chair of Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Board. Mr Gullestrup replaces retiring chair Dr Linda Colley, who held the position for more than four years.

A plumber by trade, Mr Gullestrup has served on multiple boards, trusts, reference groups and advisory committees. He was a 2017 Churchill Fellow and received the Suicide Prevention Australia LIFE Award in 2018.

With Mr Gullestrup as its CEO, Mates in Construction Queensland was a strong advocate for suicide prevention within the construction industry.

Starting his career in construction, he saw first-hand the impact of suicide on workers, their families and friends. In 2008 he decided it was time to take action to save people’s lives. He developed the MATES in Construction program with the help of the Building Employees Redundancy Trust. Within the first five years of operation there was a phenomenal 8% reduction in Queensland construction industry suicide rates.

He presided over the expansion of the Queensland program, which is now reaching over 138,000 workers across four Australian states.

“I have been lucky to be able to work for purposes and values I believe in for the past 29 years. I’ve dedicated the last 14 years to serving as a not-for profit leader in the field of mental health and suicide prevention,” Mr Gullestrup said.

“My work has allowed me to be involved in establishing ground-breaking programming, pushing for a breakaway from the status quo towards more sustainable and holistic solutions in the area of suicide prevention and mental health, while partnering with stakeholders from the construction industry, mental health and government to ensure effective strategy and program delivery.

“I’m a passionate and inclusive leader skilled in budgeting, customer service, coaching, and strategic planning. A firm believer in blue-sky thinking and working solutions, I enjoy working backward from the blue-sky objective over a more conventional problem-solution focused approach.”

Further information

Read more about Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Board