Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand)

Building a compassionate and supportive rail industry

Tuesday, 18 April 2024, will mark the tenth anniversary of Rail R U OK?, an initiative dedicated to building a supportive workplace culture where colleagues really look out for each other every day of the year. 

The TrackSAFE Foundation and R U OK? are calling on the rail industry to bring their teams together for a workplace event, focusing on this year’s theme, ‘R U OK? I’m Here to Hear.’ 

Heather Neil, Executive Director of TrackSAFE touched on the importance of the day.

“As we join together on 18 April to connect, share experiences of when support has helped during tough times, and further build our conversation confidence, we want to reiterate the value of making space to really listen,” Neil said.

“Let your colleagues know you’re here, to really hear, every day of the year.” 

Former Senior Health and Safety Environment Advisor, David Hardman, has shared the difference it made when colleagues showed genuine concern as he navigated a tough time. 

“When I returned to work after my mother passed away, nearly a dozen people noticed I wasn’t myself and checked in with me,” Hardman said.

“I was so grateful they took the time to ask and to listen genuinely, rather than waiting for me to say outwardly that I wasn’t OK.” 

Hardman’s personal challenges and his understanding of the struggles that come with being a rail worker have made him passionate about creating supportive work environments and encouraging colleagues to check in with one another. 

“There’s an amazing ripple effect that happens when you embody the simple steps of R U OK? as a business. One by one, people feel more comfortable checking in with others, and eventually, it becomes the norm,” Hardman explained.

“Because of that, employees who are struggling seek help earlier, lives are transformed, and sometimes saved.” 

More than 100,000 rail employees across more than 135 organisations nationwide support Rail R U OK? Importantly, research shows the initiative successfully motivates individuals to support their colleagues. A 2021 survey found seven in ten workers (70 per cent) aware of Rail R U OK? had checked in with someone. 

CEO of R U OK? Katherine Newton touched on the importance of this day to the rail industry.

“Over the past decade, Rail R U OK?Day has evolved from a national day of industry-wide action into a year-round movement that fosters a culture of compassion and understanding among colleagues,” Newton said.

“To those who have championed this conversation movement, thank you. You are pivotal in breaking down stigma and encouraging authentic and open conversations.” 

Jules Robinson has worked with Metro Trains Melbourne for 12 years and was involved in the first Rail R U OK?Day in 2015. 

“I’ve noticed a huge company-wide shift since we launched Rail R U OK?, and it consistently resonates with our staff each year,” Robinson said.

“Building an R U OK? Culture is about recognising that we are all human, we all go through tough times, and we need to hold space for people to talk and learn to really listen. 

“Rail R U OK? isn’t about training everyone to become a counsellor, it’s about acknowledging that life isn’t always easy and making work a safe place to talk,” Ms Robinson added. 

Visit tracksafe.org.au for FREE resources to help you have an R U OK? conversation and plan your Rail R U OK? activities. 

If you or someone you know needs some extra support, you can find contact information for national support and services at ruok.org.au/findhelp. 

For support at any time of day or night, Lifeline Australia provides free and confidential crisis support. Call 13 11 14, text 0477 13 11 14 or chat online at: lifeline.org.au. 

13YARN is a free 24/7 service offering crisis support for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people. Call 13YARN (13 92 76). 

MensLine Australia is a free 24/7 service offering support for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78 or chat online at: mensline.org.au.