CFA members ask ‘R U OK?’ during a challenging year

Country Fire Authority (CFA) is encouraging its members across North East Victoria to ask their family, friends and colleagues, “are you okay?” ahead of R U OK? Day on Thursday, 10 September 2020.

CFA members ask 'R U OK?' during a challenging year

CFA District 24 Commander Brett Myers (2nd from right) leads Emergency Manager Andrew Crisp around the Upper Murray.

R U OK? Day is a national day of action, and CFA recognises this year has been one of change, challenges and adjustments, with the need for our communities to stay connected and feel supported has been more important than ever.

For District 24 Commander Brett Myers, it’s also an opportunity for CFA members to recognise the importance of starting conversations with the people around them, and offering support to others.

“Everyone’s different, and mental health affects people differently,” he said

“Here in the North East, the fires have been one of the most challenging times in some people’s lives while for other locals it’s the COVID situation that’s triggered them to request help.

“We’re also still finding a large amount of welfare needs for CFA members following the Upper Murray fires, and CFA is still providing wellbeing support members in Corryong a couple of days a week to provide better access for members to get those services.”

This year’s message is ‘There’s more to say after R U OK?’, and Commander Myers said it’s important to be prepared to listen, and have that conversation.

“For a lot of people, it might shock them if someone says they’re not OK, but having the ability to engage with them about what support they might need is critical, whether that’s professional or just some compassion from the person asking the question.”

CFA Executive Director People, Culture and Safety Janelle Leonard said volunteer’s mental health and wellbeing are top priorities for CFA, and encouraged members to check in on others this R U OK? Day.

“As an organisation, we understand our volunteers often attend confronting incidents when serving our communities, so it’s important to provide them with appropriate mental health support services,” Ms Leonard said.

“Our Wellbeing Support Line has been so important for CFA members and their immediate families to have an accessible service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This line is available for any level of support and advice, including following a critical incident.

“CFA offers a number of wellbeing programs, including the Member Assistance Program (MAP), Peer Support Program and Chaplaincy Program, among others.

“It’s critical that all of our members are given the best possible tools and support to look out for one another.”

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