ARE you OK?
This simple yet poignant question is at the heart of a nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging people who might be struggling to speak out and ask for help.
To spread the message that even such a small question can make a huge difference, a Conversation Convoy has been winding its way across Australia for much of August and September.
The convoy will build on the question “are you ok?” by reinforcing the four steps to a conversation, empowering Australians to ask, listen, encourage action and check in.
Starting at Uluru on August 1, the convoy has been making its way across 14,000 kilometres of Australian roads, visiting over 20 communities in regional and metropolitan locations before finishing in Cairns on R U OK? Day, on September 14.
Thanks to the Audi Foundation, four yellow SUV’s representing each of the conversation steps have formed the convoy. Each stop will ideally give more people the confidence to support those who are struggling, while raising awareness of support services.
High-profile ambassadors, including Ben Lee, Khan Porter, Commando Steve, Daniel Conn, Steven Oliver, Travis Collins and Jodhi Meares, will be joining different legs of the trip.
The Conversation Convoy initiative stems from a national survey which revealed one in three people don’t feel comfortable asking the question, “are you ok?”
R U OK? CEO Brendan Maher said the results highlight the need to further empower those who aren’t comfortable asking someone who may be struggling and give people a road-map to start what could be a life-changing conversation.
“We understand most Australians know what R U OK? is about, but we want to ensure that if someone says “no, I’m not ok,” people know what to do next,” he said. “While offering support won’t always relieve someone’s distress, it is a great place to start. When conversations are too big for you and I, encouraging someone to seek professional help can sometimes be the difference between a hopeful path or a tragic one.”
Psychologist and R U OK? advisor Rachel Clements agrees that these barriers to asking are normal fears but can be remedied by familiarising yourself with R U OK?’s four steps.
“We know that some conversations can be really tough. But in reality, you don’t have to be an expert to start a conversation – asking shows someone you care about them which can make a really positive difference.”
At most stops the suicide prevention organisation will gift a Conversation Corner bench seat to encourage future conversations in the community.
■ To see what’s happening in your area or for more information, visit www. ruok.org.au.