This R U OK? Day we spoke with four members of the MinRes family about what the day means to them, and how they ask, “are you ok?”. First up, meet Charlie.
Charlie is a Port and Logistics Site Registered Manager in Port Hedland. He oversees the movements of more than 600 truck-drivers that transport the iron ore and lithium from our operations in the Pilbara to the port so it can be exported to global markets. While these truck drivers subcontract to MinRes through various companies, this doesn’t stop him from treating every single person like an extended member of the MinRes family.
Charlie started with MinRes more than 14 years ago and said while WA fared well in managing the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel restrictions took a big toll on the mental health of many people he knows.
“Australia is multicultural, with so many of the truck-drivers in the Pilbara coming from countries all around the world,” said Charlie.
“The border restrictions meant that so many people missed important life events, like the birth of their child or the funeral of a loved one. It was really hard on so many of the truck drivers up here.
“The one silver lining is that there were so many people in similar situations, so it meant that they started to open up and felt more comfortable talking to each other about how they were feeling.”
Photo: Charlie (left) in front of one of the site offices that MinRes has painted yellow, which acts as a lasting prompter to continue the R U OK? message every day of the year.
A former truck driver himself, Charlie knows that it can feel isolating being on the road by yourself. That’s why he makes the effort to get to know the truck drivers and organises social activities so people have a chance to get to know others and have a chat.
“I see our truck drivers roll into the port regularly and I notice when they aren’t behaving like they normally would,” said Charlie.
“It can be a little confronting to straight out ask someone, ‘are you ok?’. Many of the truck drivers up here are men and they typically don’t like to talk about how they are feeling as unfortunately mental illness is still sometimes perceived as a sign of weakness.
“During the pandemic I took special care to organise free activities for our truck drivers, like fishing competitions and golf days. I found that social events like these really helped to break down the barriers and encourage people to talk more.
Charlie thinks it’s really important to recognise R U OK? Day in a big way.
“The great thing about R U OK? day is that it spreads the message that it’s ok not to be ok. While it is just one day of the year, it’s a prompter to continue the conversation the other 364 days of the year.”