Keep the conversation on track

Today, eight years since the inaugural Rail R U OK?Day, 100,000 rail employees from more than 120 organisations nationwide will down tools to keep the conversation on track and learn how and when to ask,“are they really OK?”

The annual event, a joint initiative of harm prevention charities the TrackSAFE Foundation and R U OK?, has seen a significant year on year growth in participation since its inception and encourages rail staff to reach out, connect and have meaningful conversations every day of the year.

In 2021, TrackSAFE and R U OK? conducted a national surveyto measure the impact of Rail R U OK?Day and the results show a positive impact to workplace culture. The Rail R U OK? 2021 Evaluation surveyed 354 employees across the industry, including rail maintenance, office staff, customer service, safety, operations and rail and train crews.

Results have found awareness of and participation in Rail R U OK?Day are very strong, with more than 99 per cent of those surveyed aware of the event, and 79 per cent of those participating in one or more ways.

Positively, the results show Rail R U OK?Day is encouraging individuals to take action to support colleagues, with 70 per cent of those who were aware of the event saying they had checked in with someone. Importantly, 99 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to help a workmate they thought could be struggling.

Rail R U OK?Day is increasing this willingness to give or seek help, with 59 per cent  more willing to ask a workmate what it is that’s troubling them, 50 per cent more willing to tell a workmate what’s troubling them if asked, and 44 per cent  more willing to seek professional help.

TrackSAFE Foundation executive director Heather Neil says talking about mental health, just like physical health, is key to changing attitudes and people’s actions.

“As an industry we are proud to champion this message. We all go through life’s ups and downs. Grief, relationship breakdowns, tough times at work or home. By reaching out to ask R U OK?, individuals can help a workmate feel supported and access appropriate help. Peer support can make a positive difference to their life. Rail R U OK?Day provides practical tools for the rail sector to empower individuals to identify the signs a colleague might not be OK and start a conversation that could change a life.

“The evaluation results, along with increased participation in Rail R U OK?Day each year confirms rail employees from across Australia and New Zealand are continuing to transform their workplaces to be supportive and connected environments, championing an R U OK? Culture every day of the year.

“But we don’t have to wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis to ask how they’re really going. The best people to spot the signs someone might be struggling, are the people closest to them, including colleagues, and by asking early we can look to help the people in our world long before they are in crisis.”

R U OK? CEO. Katherine Newton said it was encouraging to see that participation in Rail R U OK?Day is helping individuals create a stronger, safe and more supportive rail industry.

“The results from the Rail R U OK? 2021 Evaluation show that Rail R U OK?Day is now more than just a day; it’s a successful year-round movement that is building the motivation, confidence and skills of individuals to have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.”

“Not only are those in the rail industry now aware of Rail R U OK?Day, they are willing to take action to support a colleague, which is when we as individuals really can make a difference to the people in our world. Key to the success of Rail R U OK?Day has been the Rail R U OK?Day Champions who volunteer their time to help normalise R U OK? conversations in their organisation. Our champions show you don’t have to be an expert, we’ve all got what it takes to promote the importance of wellbeing, connection and build an R U OK? Culture.”

Big build boosts gender inclusion

Victoria’s Big Build is providing opportunities for women to learn, work and lead this International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, challenges the culture that sees women under-represented in a range of industries, including transport and construction.

At Victoria’s Big Build, these initiatives are helping attract and grow the next generation of skilled, confident women in transport:

  • The Building Equality Policy came into effect at the start of this year and is designed to address gender stereotypes in the building industry. Applying to new government projects valued at $20 million or more, it mandates female representation in at least:
    • 3 per cent of each trade role
    • 7 per cent of each non-trade position
    • 35 per cent of management, supervisor and specialist labour roles
    • 4 per cent of labour hours for apprentices and trainees.
  • The Women in Apprenticeships fund is supporting 10 projects to create a pipeline of skilled workers to help build Victoria’s future.
  • The Victorian Government’s Women in Transport Program supports women working in construction.

Stefania Calati – Building Manager, Arden Station, Metro Tunnel Project

Stefania Calati is a civil engineer with 15 years of experience in construction engineering. She completed a double degree in Civil Engineering and Arts at the University of Melbourne, where she combined her love of mathematics and languages.

“As a female manager I bring a different type of energy to large infrastructure projects, the sites I work at, and the teams I work with. I think differently, share differently, and listen differently. Little by little, I’m aiming to change how the roles of women in construction are perceived, so that women taking on key roles across major transport infrastructure projects like the Metro Tunnel Project becomes more the norm and less the exception,” she said.

Kavery Uddappanda – Graduate, Civil Engineering, North East Link Program (NELP)

Now a member of the North East Link Program (NELP) 2022 Graduate Program, Kavery came to NELP through the Summer Interns Program in 2021. Kavery gained her engineering degree at Swinburne University and is now working as a civil engineer.

Kavery became interested in engineering through her engagement with STEM subjects at school and is passionate about being able to physically see the impact and benefits of her work.

“Growing up in the United Arab Emirates, with vast construction projects happening all around me, sparked my interest in science and engineering at a young age. What I love most about engineering is being able to contribute to change, specifically in creating a better environment for the future,” she said.

Adele Aldaoud – Rail and Infrastructure Graduate, Suburban Rail Loop Authority

Growing up in Syria, Adele Aldaoud loved visiting her carpenter grandfather and architect aunt to watch them at work, spellbound by the plans and drawings sprawled across their desks.

“I always wondered how someone could turn ideas and drawings on paper into a real structure like a massive skyscraper. I used to think ‘that person must be superhuman!’’ she said.

Coupled with a love and talent for math, Adele knew engineering was for her. With the unwavering support of her parents, Adele completed a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Al-Ba’ath University in Syria, then a Masters in Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Tasmania.

“I like that engineering is all about innovation creativity, that you can make an impact on the community – and even the world – for the future,” she said.

Now working at the Suburban Rail Loop Authority as part of the 2022 graduate cohort, Adele is excited to make her mark on Melbourne.