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R U OK? launches support for police and emergency services in NSW: 'Are they Triple OK?'

Photo: R U OK? launches support for police and emergency services in NSW: 'Are they Tri....
R U OK? today launched ‘Are they Triple OK?’, a campaign to encourage stronger peer and social support for police and emergency services workers across Australia.

An R U OK? conversation can change a life which is why representatives from agencies across Australia have shared their stories to promote a simple message: ‘We’re always there to help. Let’s make sure we help each other and ask R U OK?’.

‘Are they Triple OK?’ provides practical resources to build confidence in starting life-changing conversations with police and emergency service workers both at home and in the workplace.

The campaign has been developed in response to Beyond Blue’s nationwide Answering the call study[1] which found police and emergency service personnel report suicidal thoughts more than twice as often as adults in the general population.
However, personnel with higher levels of social support and resilience reported lower levels of suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

‘Are they Triple OK?’ will encourage early intervention by providing police and emergency service workers with the skills and tools to begin an R U OK? conversation.

It features real stories from NSW Police Force, Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance, NSW State Emergency Service and NSW Rural Fire Service and models the life-changing impact an R U OK? conversation can have.

R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton is extremely grateful to the emergency services personnel who have shared their stories to support the campaign.

“Each and every one of you is making a significant contribution and we  share your commitment to helping your peers navigate life’s ups and downs, as well as the specific challenges you encounter on the job.”

At The Rocks Fire Station, NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services, The Hon. David Elliott MP joined representatives from the state’s police and emergency services agencies who have featured in the campaign.

“Our first responders go out there on the frontline every day, putting community safety above their own, and they deserve the respect and support of each and every person they are sworn to protect,” Mr Elliott said.

“Police and emergency services workers give so much of themselves in the line of duty, and it’s our job to ensure they have the best possible tools and support to look out for each other.”

NSW Police Senior Constable Tracy Bloomfield is one of five personnel from NSW who have featured in the nationwide campaign. Tracey spoke about the pressures of the environments in which they work.

“It’s hard sometimes to tell your family who are not in the services how you struggle,” said Bloomfield. “They just don’t realise the repercussions and the dreams, all the ongoing things that can happen even years after an incident.”

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said Answering the call found police and emergency services personnel backed colleagues with mental health issues.

“Overwhelmingly, Beyond Blue’s landmark Answering the call report tells us that first responders want to support colleagues who might be dealing with mental health issues – that  they don’t see these as a sign of weakness.

‘Are they Triple OK?’ takes this finding and equips people to reach out, connect and support one another.”

Fire and Rescue NSW Firefighter Max Cottingham wants the campaign to empower colleagues and family members to take that step and ask the question if they spot the signs someone might be struggling.

“You don’t have to be an expert to ask ‘Are you OK?’ Let them know, ‘I don’t know the answers, but I’m happy to help you on that journey to find those answers,’” said Cottingham. “We're always there to help. Let’s make sure we help each other and ask  R U OK?”

‘Are they Triple OK?’ will provide free digital and printable resources including a conversation guide on how to ask the question and navigate the conversation if the answer is, “No, I’m not OK”.

The resources are designed to foster a supportive work culture and address the high rates of self-stigma identified within the services.

Resources are now available on the R U OK? website at www.ruok.org.au and will be regularly refreshed to address feedback and promote long term behavioural change.

R U OK? is grateful to the campaign’s funding partner, the Pinnacle Charitable Foundation, and to the members of R U OK?’s Police and Emergency Services Advisory Group whose input and advice guided the development.

For support at any time of day or night, call Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.

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