Port Kembla steelworkers urged to open up on RU OK Day

Checking in: Lifeline South Coast executive director Grahame Gould (centre) shares a coffee, and a conversation, with BlueScope employees Liz Mobbs and Troy Smolenaars. Picture: Adam McLean
Checking in: Lifeline South Coast executive director Grahame Gould (centre) shares a coffee, and a conversation, with BlueScope employees Liz Mobbs and Troy Smolenaars. Picture: Adam McLean

A ‘convoy’ with heart will wind its way through worksites at BlueScope on RU OK Day today.

The convoy – consisting of a coffee van, nutritionists, personal trainers and counsellors – will travel across the site and stop and engage workers in conversations about mental health.

Second-generation steelworker Troy Smolenaars welcomed the joint initiative between BlueScope and Lifeline South Coast.

‘’I’m supporting RU OK Day because I believe that mental health and looking after your workmates is important. It’s a good building block for a safe day at work.’’

Lifeline South Coast chief executive Grahame Gould will join the convoy, to encourage workers to open up.

‘’Three-quarters of people who die from suicide are men, which is why it’s great to see BlueScope – which employs a lot of men – taking the lead in this area,’’ he said.

‘’There’ll be nutritionists and personal trainers to talk about physical health, and I’ll be there to talk about the benefits of help-seeking and to push the message that to seek help is a strength, not a weakness.’’

BlueScope health and wellness manager Lyal Hammond said the organisation ran a range of programs designed to boost workers’ physical and mental health.

‘’BlueScope takes a holistic view to our employee’s health and wellbeing and acknowledges that poor mental health impacts on a person’s ability to function both away from, and while at work,’’ he said.

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Mr Gould said suicide remained the leading cause of death for Australians under the age of 44; in 2015 more than 3000 lives were lost.

Last year Lifeline South Coast answered more than 23,500 calls on its 24/7 telephone crisis support service. For help and support call 13 11 14.

For further information on R U OK? Day go to www.ruok.org.au