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2016: The year that was...

  • By hello
  • 23 Dec, 2016

We’re on the final stretch toward the end of another year. As we reflect on what R U OK? has achieved these last 12 months we feel this one has really flown by!

R U OK?  has had an amazing 2016 with both participation in the campaign and our impact continuing to grow. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of Australians who are confident in their ability to reach out to a friend or loved one who’s struggling with life. It’s a great result and a testament to our founder Gavin Larkin’s vision.

Our seventh national day of action,  R U OK?Day , saw Ambassadors, communities, sector partners, government and corporate Australia reconnect with someone they’ve lost touch with.

To highlight the power of reconnection, R U OK? reunited three pairs of long lost friends. We captured each pair’s story to show the difference friendship, support and quality time with those we care about can make.

Thousands of R U OK?Day  events were held in all corners of Australia with 5,900 media reports helping to highlight the importance of conversations and connecting with those around us. The day featured a breakfast event at iconic Bondi Icebergs where guest speakers, politicians and musicians came together to share messages of promise and hope for a future where we are all connected and protected from suicide.

We've captured more stories and successes from the day, in the R U OK?Day 2016 Wrap Up:

Here are just a few more of our good news stories and achievements in 2016:

  • The launch of the R U OK? at Work campaign, ‘ Would you say something?’  to remind people that we've all got what it takes to start a conversation with someone we're worried about.
  •   A new website  developed with the support of our digital partner Sensis  to deliver a helpful and inspiring platform for anyone looking to start a conversation with someone they’re worried about.
  •  Thanks to the support of Bristow  we launched the R U OK? Afield campaign ‘It’s not always obvious’  reminding us sometimes we need to trust our gut instinct and dig a little deeper because it’s not always obvious when someone’s struggling.
  • With the support of 12 law firms we delivered the Look Deeper campaign  to encourage greater peer to peer support across the legal profession.
  • In partnership with the TrackSAFE Foundation  we delivered the second Rail R U OK?Day  to empower everyone in the rail industry to check in with one another and ask, “are you ok?”.
  • We supported Ambassador DJ Tigerlily’s  ‘Summer of Love’ tour and encouraged youth across Australia to share the love and support one another.
  • We expanded our community Conversation Corner initiative  (a park bench activation) with a launch in Bundaberg, Queensland  supported by R U OK? Ambassador Libby Trickett .
  • Our merchandise grew in popularity and helped us reach more Australians in households, workplaces and schools.
  • We partnered with the Royal Adelaide Show  and the inaugural Ride Against Suicide  to encourage South Australians to support one another and connect people with services that can assist when times are tough.
  • We launched an interactive question mark ‘Quentin’  who is currently travelling across Australia inspiring one million conversations in the lead up to R U OK?Day 2017.
  • A new play was developed called ‘Being Brave’ from our schools’ partner Brainstorm productions  to encourage children to talk about what they’re feeling and ask one another, “are you ok?”.
  • A new partnership with the Chamberlain Foundation  will see us deliver a primary school initiative in 2017

Everything we are able to achieve is underpinned by significant generosity and goodwill.

People often express surprise that R U OK? is a small team of six. While this keeps us incredibly busy, much of the team’s ability to succeed is driven by the incredible commitment of everyone who's helping us build a national conversation movement such as event organisers, employers, employees, volunteers and fundraisers. They inspire us to work harder every day.

The pro-bono support and vital financial support of partners such as the Australian Government , Hungry Jack’s , Virgin Mobile , Bristow Helicopters  and Sensis  helps us expand the campaign throughout the year.

This year we were privileged to garner the support of a number of new dedicated Ambassadors . Our Ambassador program continues to thrive and we are grateful to all our Ambassadors that give their time and energy to the cause.

Importantly, R U OK?’s capacity to develop campaigns and resources that are effective, safe and empowering relies on the incredible expertise we receive from our Scientific Advisory Group, Conversation Think Tank and Creative Hub. These individuals provide their time freely and add substance, depth and credibility to R U OK?’s initiatives.

I would also like to thank R U OK?’s Board for their support and guidance.

Finally, thank you to the incredible R U OK? team, who consistently kick goals – Katherine Newton (Campaign Director), Anastasia Symons (Campaign Manager), Lisa Minner (Media and PR Manager), Lindy Hodgson (Community Engagement Manager), and Kristina Lawrence (Project and Events Manager). I also want to acknowledge the support of Amy Godfrey during the busy months in the lead-up to R U OK?Day.

We recently bade farewell to Rebecca Lewis, whose vision, creativity and drive has helped R U OK? achieve so much. Her outstanding contribution will be sorely missed.

As we move into 2017, we look forward to a year where we will continue to equip more Australians to reach out and start a conversation with anyone struggling with life.

In the meantime, enjoy the festive season and have a wonderful break filled with meaningful conversations. See you in the New Year! 


By hello 23 Mar, 2017

Michael Winn is a freelance journalist who uses Write For Your Figh t as a platform to inspire change through personal stories. He believes we are the change that we want to see in the world and hopes this piece inspires more people to ask that simple but potentially life-saving question, “Are you ok?”

Whether we’re going through a break-up, or a tough time at work, a time of confusion, or a time of need – there are moments in life where we all need a sounding board.

A person or a group of people who are there for us, to listen to us, or to discuss things with us. A safe space where we can truly open up, and let out exactly how we are feeling.

And when we aren’t feeling OK, a good sounding board can make all the difference in the world.

A sounding board can be found over a coffee, or over a beer. In a face-to-face conversation, or through a phone. With someone we know, or someone we don’t. When it comes to a good sounding board, it’s all about how we feel.

When you are with someone that can make you feel truly relaxed and cared for, listened to and safe, that’s when our walls come down, and the feelings that we have been harbouring inside can finally be released.

Whether it’s finding a health professional, or a friend that you know will always have your back, the power of a conversation can be the start of the healing process.

For me, opening up came slowly. It took me hitting rock-bottom to realise that internalising my pain, and masking it with a smile wasn’t going to make it go away. And over time, masking these feelings and emotions was turning a problem into an even bigger issue.

My sounding board came in a range of people, with a range of battles they each face in their own lives. It was through these conversations that we could share our pain, and shed our pain.

Conversations in the park, watching their child run amok on a playground. Nights on the couch with a cider and a boxset of American Horror Story. Or a private conversation at a family dinner – each conversation was different, but at the end of all of them, there was a weight lifted from my shoulders, and the more honest I was, the better I felt.

It took me a while to realise that by looking inside, and trusting my heart, that I knew there were people who would be there for me, no matter what I was going through.

I owe a lot to my sounding board - and when I get married next year, there’s a reason that three of them will be standing next to me, by my side, protecting me as always.

By hello 21 Mar, 2017

Did you know people living in neighbourhoods that are highly connected enjoy, overall, higher levels of physical and mental health?

That’s why we’re getting behind Neighbour Day, Australia’s annual celebration of community. You can get involved too this Sunday, March 26 by reaching out and connecting with your neighbours. You could grab a cuppa, throw a picnic or simply knock on the door of older person in your neighbour and say hi.  

Need more convincing? Getting to know your neighbours can reap plenty of benefits, including:

  • developing new friendships
  • feeling an increased sense of security
  • being able to ask your neighbour to keep an eye on your home, collect your mail or feed your pet while you're away on holidays. Even give you that extra egg or cup of sugar when you need it.
By hello 10 Mar, 2017

On Saturday the 11th of March, Lake Cargelligo Recreation Ground will be the venue for the Jamarle Harris Memorial R U OK? Football & Netball Day. The event is the concept of the Harris / Smith family who lost their son/brother to suicide 3 years ago.  The family have planned the event as a way of thanking the local community for the support the family received after their loss and encouraging everyone to check in with anyone who may be struggling with life.

The action packed event will include two games of netball with Lake/Tullibigeal playing against Northern Riverina League Invitational sides, a Golden Oldies combined football & netball match; Auskick; men’s, women’s, boys and girls sprint races along with the ‘Big Bopper’ open sprint for 100kg plus entrants.

The main game of football will see last year’s NRFL premier’s Tullibigeal Hoppers and runners-up Lake Tigers combine to take on a NRFL Invitational team made up of players from Hillston, West Wyalong, Ungarie, Condobolin and some players from the Sunraysia League (around Mildura). The match will feature a number of young and upcoming stars of the Northern Riverina in a pre-season hit-out to help promote the R UOK? message of looking out for your mates. Entry to the event is free and the kiosk will be operating to cater for the day.

Later in the evening, a dinner will be held at the Lake Cargelligo Bowling Club featuring guest speakers Chris McGregor from ‘Mate Helping Mate’ and former NRL player and boxer Joe Williams. An auction of commemorative jumpers worn on the day and AFL memorabilia will be conducted on the night with all funds raised going to R U OK?, Mate Helping Mate and a local Close the Gap charity which will help support young people in sport and recreation pursuits and contribute to holding future community events.

Tickets for the dinner are $25 for Adults and $10 for children aged 15 and under and include a two course meal along with the entertainment. They can be purchased at Lower Lachlan Community Services  from Wednesday 1st March, or at the door on the night if still available.

By hello 10 Mar, 2017

R U OK? CEO Brendan Maher will attend the Queanbeyan rodeo this Saturday to encourage rodeo-goers to check-in with their mates and loved ones or anyone who might be struggling with life.

The Patches Asphalt Queanbeyan Rodeo will be held on Saturday 11th March 2017 at Queanbeyan Showground, Glebe Ave, Queanbeyan.

Brendan said, “People living in regional and rural areas know what it’s like to do it tough and a lot of times have been raised to think it’s not okay to speak up and ask for help when they’re going through challenging times,

“I hope to have some good quality conversations with the Queanbeyan folk and give them some strategies to ensure the people in their lives are connected and protected from suicide.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone,” he said.

The R U OK? marquee will feature inspiring videos playing on the big screen and a Q&A will take place with Brendan and the rodeo’s Justin Potter

In addition to providing an action packed evening of family fun, the Patches Asphalt Queanbeyan Rodeo raises money for various local charities like R U OK? and other organisations.

The 2016 rodeo saw top riders from all over Australia kick up the dust, including Carl Green who took out the John Mills Memorial All Round Highest Point Award at Queanbeyan Rodeo 2016.

The Queanbeyan Rodeo were awarded Outstanding Community Event by John Barilaro in 2016 and also awarded the 2016 Committee of the year from the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association.

Entries from Australia’s top cowboys and cowgirls. Top prize money in all events.   Local (Yass) stock contractor, George Hempenstall, will be bringing his legendary bucking bulls and both JP “Happy” Gill and Rick Wilson will be bringing the very best of their bucking horses.

The sensational bullfighters, Rodney Ray Mansell and Lance Bonham, will be on hand to protect the cowboys and the hilarious Al Wilson will be entertaining the crowd from within the arena.

All the action can be seen live and also on the ‘big screen’ above the chutes. Great food and bar facilities and lots of carnival entertainment for the kids will make the 2017 Patches Asphalt Queanbeyan Rodeo a great day/night out!

o   Opening Times:

Gates open at 2pm with the main event 4pm till late.

o   Admission:

Adults $20, Aged Pensioner $15, Children 8-15yrs $15, under 8 free, Family Pass (2 Adults & 2 Children over 8) $60.

By hello 10 Mar, 2017

Around 100 devoted, glittered up R U OK? supporters gathered at 4pm at the F45 gym in Darlinghurst the afternoon of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, to run through their dance routine one last time.

The enthusiastic crowd of men and women sported R U OK? Budgy Smugglers or black skorts and R U OK? running tanks, gold ribbons and sequinned wrist bands. The vibe was electric as the dancers made their way to the marshalling area past equally amazing costumes, floats and fabulousness. Our R U OK? Ambassadors Bianca Dye and Steven Oliver lead the pack. The R U OK? float sported our Share the Love signage, along with a talented DJ and friendly truck driver.

And then the rivers of gold glitter began to flow.

Dancers sprayed and slapped it over their bodies which collectively looked dazzling. Before long it was showtime and the float began rolling out of marshalling and down Oxford street.

Butterflies and anticipation mixed with mild nerves were allayed as we moved in choreographed splendour around the bend, to the roar of the crowd. Waves, hugs, hand slaps and general goodwill from the throng of thousands made a 45 minute March to Moore Park road seem like a mere 10 minute stroll.

It was an amazing night, full of goodwill and great energy. But most of all we feel R U OK? sent out a powerful message to a community that needs more people checking-in and checking-in again, with anyone who might be struggling.

Thanks to our committee members, dancers and all the big-hearted folk who helped in so many ways, to make our first mardi gras a very meaningful night.

By hello 07 Mar, 2017
Last weekend, 72 R U OK? supporters came together to show the power of conversation and community. The group battled the rain, strong winds and poor visibility as they attempted to summit Mt. Kosciuszko.

Unfortunately, the unsafe conditions meant the group were unable to complete the summit track but their spirits, unwavering support and sense of adventure saw them complete two alternative tracks through Mt Kosciuszko National Park. What a bunch of legends!

Completing the tracks wasn’t the only legendary effort on the weekend as collectively the team raised a staggering $74,000 to help inspire more life-changing conversations.

Steve ‘Commando’ Willis who led the group said, “I’ve been inspired by everyone’s firm belief in the power of conversation. This was a great opportunity to get out in nature and make new friends. Not only have this group inspired me with their high spirits but also their motivation to start conversations with anyone who might be going through tough times.”

The funds raised will support R U OK?’s Community Ambassador Program to ensure there are ambassadors in all corners of Australia ready to empower more people to meaningfully connect with those around them and support anyone struggling with life.

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in Conquer Kozi. We’re already looking ahead to 2018!
By hello 28 Feb, 2017

ONE of Australia’s most respected trainers and R U OK? ambassador Steve “Commando” Willis, will guide 75 men and women up Mt Kosciuszko in R U OK?’s first adventure trek “Conquer Kozi”, an 18km charity walk to the summit of Australia’s highest mountain.

By hello 28 Feb, 2017

SUICIDE prevention charity R U OK? will show its support for Australia’s LGBTQI community in a spectacular way at the 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, on March 4. One hundred choreographed dancers, staff and ambassadors will march behind R U OK?’s first ever Mardi Gras float.

By hello 27 Feb, 2017

Alex Phillips is an R U OK? supporter and the founder and editor of The Banter Press – a series of thoughts, reflections, soulful advice and general banter for conquering your twenties and beyond.

This article first appeared on The Banter Press.

Depression is an unforgiving force that will strangle the life out of you if you allow it to. There was a time in my life when I could not catch my breath. I was drowning in a pool of toxic thoughts, existing only in the physical form. The incessant current of negativity shooting through my veins made for a very confusing couple of years. I felt as though my tears were unjustified and my problems insignificant. Any attempt to decipher this wretched onslaught of emotion would involve listing anything remotely negative in my life, a harmful tactic employed to justify the seemingly irrational flood of tears. Of course, this only provoked a vicious cycle, one that has taken me years to reverse. Every now and then, it will resurface, ready to trap me in my moments of vulnerability. Fortunately, I’m stronger now (mentally) and able to fight off the demons that attempt to latch on and demolish my spirit. If you’re battling similar demons, you need to remember that you are not alone. Secondly, you need to believe that there is a way out of the trenches you’ve fallen into.


The inexplicable string of emotions, the feelings of disconnect, the assumption that nobody will understand what you’re going through - this is the reality for 3 million Australians who suffer from depression and anxiety. You are not alone in this battle. There is an  enormous ecosystem of support  available to you, ready to uproot you from the darkness that is currently obstructing your view of the future.


Talking through your feelings, regardless of how painful it may be, is the only way you’re going to soothe your soul and plant those seeds of positivity. It is impossible to gain perspective when the same toxic thoughts are circulating around and poisoning your mindset. My policy is to cry it out and talk it out - it is the first step to dissolving those feelings of isolation and lightening the burden. The monumental wave of relief that flows from an honest conversation is truly liberating. I’m no longer afraid to share my story, in fact, I consider it the best form of therapy.


Remember that you are strong and resilient and you will survive this seemingly endless rough patch - it does not have to bleed into the rest of your life. I know that some days can feel like a complete write-off, but there is a bright future that lies ahead of you and surrounding yourself with a powerful network of support is the best way to unlock that future.


If someone you know is one of the 3 million and you’d like to help them share their story,  R U OK?  encourages you to start the conversation using these 4 steps:

1.    Ask R U OK?

2.    Listen; without judgement

3.    Encourage action

4.    Check in


If you or someone you know is  in need of crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit

You can find other support services on R U OK?'s Find Help page.


By hello 09 Feb, 2017

R U OK? is thrilled to announce a new collaboration that will help us reach an international audience through The Mighty 's wide-reaching readership. We plan to develop a growing home page on The Mighty, with our resources appearing on stories and articles throughout their site, with the hope of inspiring more people to reach out and support those struggling with life.

The Mighty is a story-based health community, focused on improving the lives of people facing disease, disorder, mental illness and disability. The Mighty publishes real stories about real people facing real challenges. Their stories inspire, inform and change attitudes about people struggling through tough times.

Here are some examples of the kind of stories on The Mighty: 31 Honest Answers to 'How Are You?' and What to Say to Your Friend Who Has Depression .

R U OK? is dedicated to ensuring anyone who’s struggling with life has the love, care and support they need. Thanks to this collaboration, we'll be able to reach even more people and start more life-changing conversations, not just in Australia but around the world.

 You can support this collaboration by submitting a story to The Mighty and making your voice heard.

Want to find out more about The Mighty? Check out these links:

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