Allison Milner Memorial Scholarship

The newly-established Scholarship will fund a PhD Candidate to undertake research on workplace mental health, in honour of Allison's workplace suicide prevention research.

Allison Milner, a University of Melbourne academic who died suddenly last August, has been credited with preventing dozens of suicides in the construction industry through her research.

The charity that the 36- year-old worked with has now launched a scholarship in her memory. MATES in Construction national chief executive Chris Lockwood told the Herald Sun Associate Professor Milner, a mum of two young children, was driven to help others. “Her work with MATES has definitely saved lives — dozens,’’ Mr Lockwood said. “It was her passion.”

The new Allison Milner Memorial Fund will each year provide $110,000 for an academic to complete a three year PhD about preventing suicide or improving mental health in the workplace. The first scholarship has been awarded to the University of South Australia’s Simon Tyler. Mr Lockwood said Assoc Professor Milner’s contribution to the charity, founded in 2008, had left a lifelong legacy. She was its inaugural national academic director.

“The program continues to grow and flourish from the strong foundation that Allison helped us establish,’’ he said. “She had a very strong personal connection with everyone she worked with. This has hit us really hard. “She was a mate, a colleague and friend. “We wanted to recognise the impact of her work in a way that could see some of that work and inspiration continue. “We see it as a lasting legacy to the importance of Allison’s work.”

An estimated 190 construction industry workers take their own lives nationwide each year. MATES in Construction’s initiatives include suicide prevention programs on worksites and a 24/7 helpline.

The building and construction industry has lost a champion for mental health and suicide prevention. Allison sought to identify how well placed we are as a society for enabling suicide prevention and the key interventions necessary to support improved health outcomes for workers—especially young men working in construction. Her important work undoubtedly saved lives.

Allison approached her work with integrity and shared her insights with clarity and immense generosity of spirit. She will be greatly missed.

The Herald Sun, 9 March 2020

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Wes Hosking