Since 2009, R U OK? has encouraged Australians to reach out to those they feel might be struggling with life.
Be it family, friends, or members of the community, the organisation offers education and support for everyday people to ask that simple question – are you ok? – without formal training or the fear of saying the wrong thing.
Last Thursday, September 8th, Bellingen Council welcomed staff, members of the community, and special guests to morning tea in Maam Gaduying Park for R U OK? Day 2022.
‘A Cuppa with Council’ featured a variety of mental health service kiosks, coffee and cake, and the opportunity to share in conversations with Council staff.
“Research shows that unfortunately, 8 people take their lives every day in Australia, and over 90% of Australians know someone who has made a suicide attempt,” said Mayor Steve Allan in an address.
“Having a simple conversation can be enough of an intervention to change their paths.
“It’s so important that we understand that we are the people who are best placed to recognise when those other people in our lives might be doing it tough. And you don’t have to be an expert to ask are you ok. You just have to be a great listener and a good friend.”
Bellingen Council’s General Manager Liz Jeremy was also present to share stories, and reiterated the importance of taking that first step to talk with someone you suspect may be struggling.
“It’s a really tough time that we’ve been going through the last three years, as communities internationally. And each community needs to rally and support its own.
“It is true, every organisation’s greatest assets are its people, and it’s really important that we support our staff, but it’s really important that we support our community.
“It’s really important that we have the courage to be able to have those conversations about supporting our staff, community, love ones and the people we see every day.”
While Thursday saw many workplaces and community groups around the country celebrated R U OK? Day, the organisation’s mission extends across the entire year.
It offers a wide range of resources across a variety of ages, interests, cultural backgrounds and personal circumstances.
For tradies, nurses, sporting teams, schools, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, LGBTQI+ groups, rail workers, and many other groups, specific information is available on the R U OK website.
Gemma Rostron, founder of Nambucca Valley RUOK? and co-founder of Time2Talk, was on hand to discuss the services available to the Nambucca and Bellingen Shire communities, and emphasise how communication was more important than ever.
“Last year, the Census said one in three Australians felt lonely,” Gemma said.
“So I wanted to congratulate you all for being here today, spreading the message.
“It’s really important at the moment, after two years of virtual RUOKs. It’s never been so significant with the pressure on our health care system, and our mental health services.
“The RUOK message, creating personal relationships and asking that question within our friendship circle, has never been more important.”
For more information and resources, please visit http://www.ruok.org.au. For virtual support, visit http://www.icla.org.au/efriend
By Adam Norris (Bellingen Shire News)