TrackSAFE chairman Bob Herbert says the launch of the inaugural Rail R U OK? Day is a sign that the Australian rail industry is proactive when it comes to the emotional wellbeing of its 110,000 employees.
“The rail network is a workplace,” Herbert said. “Train drivers, guards, emergency services and other rail industry employees are the first people on the scene when incidents take place on the network and for them, severe mental, physical and emotional trauma can result from witnessing such an event.”
Launched at Sydney’s Central Station on Thursday morning, Rail R U OK? Day is a joint initiative between suicide and harm prevention charities R U OK? and the TrackSAFE Foundation.
It’s aimed at giving rail staff the confidence and capacity to talk about their mental wellbeing, and to help them feel safe and supported while at work, by asking the simple question: ‘Are you ok?’
“Rail R U OK? Day supports our existing trauma management program and aims to increase awareness about the importance of looking out for each other in the workplace, which is crucial to an industry that is too often affected by suicide and the consequential trauma suffered by rail employees,” Herbert said.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death for Australians under the age of 44, with more than 2400 Australians suiciding each year, and 65,000 attempting suicide.
Mike Connaghan, chairman of R U OK?, said the partnership with TrackSAFE promotes an important message to a national industry.
“Rail R U OK? Day will see industry employers and employees foster an environment of support and encouragement, so that asking ‘are you ok?’ becomes standard practice,” Connaghan said.
“We believe that this day of action will empower people to help a workmate, whether it be on Rail R U OK? Day or any day,” he said.
Federal minister for health Sussan Ley, who spoke at the launch in Sydney, said the Government was committed to working with communities to raise awareness of suicide risk, to help those at risk of taking their own lives and to assist those affected by suicide.
“Any suicide is one too many and it is devastating for families and communities,” Ley said.
“I am committed to working with communities and organisations such as R U OK? and the TrackSAFE Foundation to reduce the tragic impact of suicide.”