September 14 is R U OK? Day, with Australians encouraged to start a conversation and ask the question: are you ok?

A number of chefs and venues have supported R U OK? including Merivale’s Dan Hong, Saint Peter’s Josh Niland, Brae’s Dan Hunter, Three Blue Ducks, QT Sydney’s Gowings Bar & Grill and the Hunter Culinary Association (HCA), who held an event at Muse Restaurant earlier in the week.

“As a culinary association, we are aware of the challenging and sometimes demanding nature of the hospitality industry, so it’s paramount we support each other when the life and work balance becomes difficult,” says Ben Neil, HCA chairman.

“As part of the R U OK? campaign, HCA purchased 250 awareness armbands and conversation cards that are being distributed to apprentices and front of house students at Hunter TAFE, with the aim to start conversations with their colleagues, friends and families and get behind this initiative.”

To keep the message alive, R U OK? encourages workplaces to utilise the resources available on the organisation’s website, which include practical guides on how to start a conversation with staff and what to do if you notice a change in behaviour.

CEO Brendan Maher said R U OK? wanted to show all Australians they have a set of resources at hand to check in with anyone they might be worried about. “We already have assets available to us, those being our eyes, ears and mouths which are sometimes held hostage by fear and stigma,” says Maher.

“We are trying to create a world where those who are struggling receive the love, care and support they need from the people around them. We all have what it takes to ask someone if they’re ok and if they’re not, that’s where the four steps can help navigate a path to help-seeking.

“We know our 2017 Conversation Convoy has planted seeds in the communities we’ve visited and passed through. We hope it acts as a spring board to asking people if they’re ok 365 days a year, not just on our big day.”

If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more information about R U OK? visit the website.

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