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‘Hey Google, talk to RUOK Mate’

12 September 2019 at 6:00 am
Wendy Williams
Imagine sitting down with someone you’re worried about and asking them “are you ok?” Would you know what to do if they said “no”?

Wendy Williams | 12 September 2019 at 6:00 am


‘Hey Google, talk to RUOK Mate’
12 September 2019 at 6:00 am

Imagine sitting down with someone you’re worried about and asking them “are you ok?” Would you know what to do if they said “no”?

In a bid to help Australians navigate such a conversation, not for profit R U OK? has released a voice technology resource that provides strategies to help you talk to someone who is struggling.

RUOK Mate, created and developed for R U OK? by creative agency The Works, offers practical tips on how to offer support to those who need it and takes the user through the R U OK? four steps: Ask R U OK?; Listen; Encourage Action and Check In.

R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton said they hoped to empower people to trust their gut instinct and ask the question as soon as they spot the signs that someone might be struggling.

“We know the majority of Australians believe talking to someone who’s struggling can make a difference,” Newton said. 

“But what we’re focused on is building confidence in people, so they know when and how to have an R U OK? Conversation.”

She said it was important to deliver the message to people in ways that kept pace with changing technology.

“It’s vital we utilise new ways to build confidence and ‘RUOK Mate’ has the potential to do that in a way that we have not seen before,” she said. 

Anyone concerned about family, friends or colleagues can access the interactive conversation on their Google Home or Google Assistant enabled smartphone or device by simply saying “Hey Google, talk to RUOK Mate”.

Paul Swann, managing partner and creative partner at The Works, said a voice app seemed like an appropriate platform, particularly as usage of voice assistants was growing, to encourage more people to ask this potentially life changing question.

“Research showed us that while people often have good intentions to ask someone R U OK?, some of us hold back from asking because we’re not sure of how to react to their response,” Swann said. 

“Our Action on Google gives helpful advice on when, where and how to ask through a series of interactive scenarios.”

World Champion surfer and R U OK? Ambassador Layne Beachley is also supporting the project.

She said it was a great use of technology to reach those people for whom voice assisted technology was becoming commonplace. 

“Having struggled myself, it wasn’t until I was asked ‘are you ok?’ that I recognised I needed support,” Beachley said.

“I’m proud to champion this resource that will increase the confidence and readiness of Australians to have meaningful conversations that can change lives.”

R U OK?Day is taking place on 12 September 2019.


If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Q Life 1800 184 527, or headspace on 1800 650 890.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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