R U OK?
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Much has already been said in this chamber today about R U OK? Day. I wish to add a personal contribution. R U OK? encourages concerned people to follow four ‘simple steps that could change a life’. The fourth of these is to ‘check in’. It is important, of course, to start this whole process of checking on people, but I hope that we will understand the absolute importance of this last step, especially since it unavoidably goes beyond a single event or even a single day.
Four suggestions accompany this step. I quote the first and the last of these:
‘Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner’.
‘Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference’.
Personal experiences this year have reminded me just how important it is to follow up with people and maintain contact with them. A few months ago, a young friend reached out to me one day and asked for help. I was busy working, but it is my goal never to be too busy to serve others. When I found this friend on the side of the road, he was in pretty bad shape. I did what I could for him right there and then.
And then thankfully I had the good sense to keep checking in. Over the course of the past few months, I have sought to regularly stay in touch through Facebook, text messages and phone calls. It is this regular contact that most clearly communicates to people that our care and concern are genuine, and this is what can make a real difference.
With his permission, I would like to read out an slightly edited version of a message he sent to me today: ‘Last night our conversation reminded me that not too long ago, you came to help me when I was sitting in my car on the side of the road, in bad shape and with absolutely no way out of the situation I was in, but in the end you came to me. I’m not giving up hope … God bless you!’
What a perfect reminder that the small things we do can make a difference and even change a life!
In conclusion, I think of a dear friend of mine who has invited me on several occasions to assist her church, Calvary Chapel in Chifley, help serve food to the homeless. I love getting to participate because they offer far more than food. Each person who comes to eat is greeted by a friend who is happy just to take the time to listen, to be kind, and to love a brother or sister.
Madam Speaker, I hope we will all go beyond the helpful slogans and a special day to really care about our neighbours. To not only ask, ‘R U OK?’ but to following up with them for as long as it takes, no matter how long it takes, till we can rest assured that they are.