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Tracksafe: The secret to work-mateship in the rail industry

  • By Robyn Ward
  • 21 Apr, 2016

21 April 2015 marks the second Rail R U OK?Day.

Secret to workmateship
This collaboration with TrackSAFE and its partners organisations enables us to do something truly remarkable.
It allows us to communicate directly to 110 thousand people across Australia and charge them with the responsibility of doing something that seems unremarkable but is possibly transformational.
It allows us to encourage rail workmates to start a conversation.
I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to work in the rail industry and be faced with the prospect of fatalities, trauma or accidents.
And when you add to that the rollercoaster that is life, I can only imagine that it can be pretty daunting.
But hearing the stories from your colleagues in the rail sector, I remain even more convinced that conversations do matter.
I remain even more convinced that regular, meaningful conversations can change our world.
Take this anecdote from former Queensland Rail worker Justin Geange, talking about his workmate Tom, as one example of proof:
“It was hard getting out of bed… I was putting on the mask… but it’s exhausting living a lie. But then there was this one particular day where Tom was really engaged and he really genuinely asked 'Are you ok mate? I can see you are doing it tough.' And it was that day, it was that straw that broke the camel’s back and I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I am going to be fair dinkum. I’m struggling.’ That was the first step for me.”
One of the questions that we’re frequently asked is: What do I do if they say “no”?
How do I act?
What do I say?
Our advice: Be you. Be the concerned workmate.
Don’t judge them; and re-assure yourself that you don’t need to fix it, or play the expert.
As Transit Officer Sue Jervis told us, workmates need to rely on each other.
And she had this to say about the importance of openness and respect in conversations:
“Because we work closely together, you know how the other person normally is, and can pick up when they’re acting differently. You can tell when your partner’s had a bad day. Sometimes it’s alright to leave them for a few minutes. But if it’s going to affect them for the rest of the day, you need to know. We rely on each other so much, especially when there’s an incident or stressful situation. You need to be able to ask each other ‘Are you ok?’ and let each other know if you’re not in the right headspace to deal with those incidents. Checking in can keep you both safe.”
This year, we made a real effort to find inspiring stories and testimonials of work-mateship.
It’s our hope that when you, your colleagues and your bosses appreciate that people just like you are already starting these conversations, it will make it easier for the reticent, the reluctant and the reclusive to reach out and start a conversation.
The stakes are high.
We know that the suicide rate is climbing in Australia.
It’s heart-breaking and something needs to change.
But today, on this second Rail R U OK?Day, I urge you not to look to governments, doctors and experts for answers.
I ask you to look to yourself and ask what can you do differently to give hope, and a sense of support and comfort, to a workmate having a rough day or a tough time.
The gift of time is a pretty wonderful gift; particularly when it’s accompanied by a listening ear; a determination not to judge; and a willingness to help someone explore what they can do differently to manage the load.
Today - and any day someone’s struggling - start a conversation that could change a life.
Campaign Director Rebecca Lewis, speaking at Sydney’s Central Rail Station.
To support Rail R U OK?Day, visit:


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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