Convoy rolls into Hobart to ask: R U OK?

IT was a pit stop in a six-week journey across Australia when the Conversation Convoy rolled into Hobart to ask the question: R U OK?

Kicking off in Uluru on 1 August, the Conversation Convoy seeks to give people more confidence to support those who are struggling and raise awareness of support services available across the country.

The Hobart visit formed part of a nationwide tour that covered 14,000-kilometres, building on the question “R U OK?” by reinforcing the four-steps to a conversation.

These steps include empowering Australians to ask, listen, encourage action and check in.

R U OK? chief executive officer Brendan Maher said there was a real need to help those who weren’t comfortable asking someone who may be struggling.

He said it was important to give people a road map to start what could be a life-changing conversation.

“We sought expert advice to develop the four-step strategy to guide people through a sometimes difficult conversation,” he said.

“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’, then people know what to do next.

“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 me, encouraging someone to seek professional help can sometimes be the difference between a hopeful path or a tragic one.”

Thanks to the assistance of the Audi Foundation, the convoy featured four bright yellow SUVs, with each vehicle representing one of the conversation steps.

It is hoped that the activities around these four cars will help people of any age learn the four steps in an interactive way, no matter what their location.

Speaker of the House of Assembly and Liberal Member for Denison Elise Archer, who greeted the convoy on their arrival, said just about everyone knew someone experiencing mental illness.

“But, sadly, there is a stigma attached to mental health issues and we need to break that down,” she said.

“I believe we can help do that by taking the first step ourselves and starting a conversation with someone we’re concerned about.

“The R U OK? Conversation Convoy is such a great initiative because it encourages everyone to get involved and equip ourselves with the skills to navigate a conversation when someone responds with: “No, I’m not OK.”

“By understanding the four steps, hopefully we can all have a conversation that could potentially change or save a life.”

The Conversation Convoy finishes on R U OK? Day on 14 September in Cairns, Queensland.

For more information, visit www.ruok.org.au/conversation-convoy.

Caption: From left, R U OK? chief executive officer Brendan Maher, R U OK? ambassador and actor Steven Bastoni, Speaker of the House of Assembly and Liberal Member for Denison Elise Archer and SPEAK UP Stay ChatTY founder Mitch McPherson.

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