Tread as One
Thank you, Madam Speaker. Every single person has struggles, whether financial or emotional, related to health or to relationships, etc. Sometimes these struggles are obvious, and many times they can be virtually invisible … especially if no one is looking. That’s one more reason why we need to be actively looking out for and checking on each other. We need to sincerely ask, ‘Are you OK?’ and then be prepared to listen to and support the other person whenever the answer is ‘no’ or ‘not really’. The alternative is to allow the people around us to suffer in silence, and the outcome of that in far too many cases, Madam Speaker, is tragedy of some kind.
The R U OK? Campaign was launched in 2009 by Gavin Larkin. Fourteen years earlier, Gavin had lost his father to suicide. This is a far too common occurrence, Madam Speaker. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44, with more than eight deaths by suicide occurring each day on average. Men are three times more likely than women to take their own lives, and the suicide rate amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is almost three times the national rate. Death by suicide often takes family and friends by surprise, especially when they have no idea that a loved one was even hurting. Hence the need to inspire and empower people to meaningfully connect with others around them by sincerely asking them how they are going.
Last Friday Anytime Fitness here in the City participated in the Tread as One initiative, a 24-hour treadmill challenge in support of the national R U OK? Campaign. The purpose of the event was to raise much-needed awareness of suicide along with raising funds to aid its prevention. I rise today, Madam Speaker, to publicly thank Anytime Fitness for sponsoring this event. I also wish to thank my Canberra Liberals colleague Ms Elizabeth Lee, for inviting me, Ms Candice Burch and Mr Alistair Coe to join her in taking our turns on the treadmills Friday morning. I also wish to thank all the other Canberrans who participated in this great cause, including those who generously gave a donation towards Anytime Fitness’s goal of raising $4,000 for R U OK?
Lastly, Madam Speaker, I encourage all Canberrans to learn more about the steps they can take to help those around them who may be struggling with hidden depression. The steps are simple:
Ask, ‘Are you OK?’
And check back in.
In a world where people increasingly feel socially isolated, let us all do better, Madam Speaker, to have real connections with our family members, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbours, and others around us. In small and simple ways, we can be the cheer and comfort someone needs. Thank you.