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03 / 12 / 2019

Knowing what to do in responding to family and friends who may be struggling with their mental health is vitally important, yet it is often an area of uncertainty, which can prevent vital action.

This is the objective of the Check Your Mates campaign, a program that is being launched today by Operation Compass, a commonwealth government funded project that aims to address and reduce the rate of suicide and increase well-being, post-ADF.

The Check Your Mates campaign is a key outcome of the Operation Compass project.

Operation Compass Lead, retired 3 star Lieutenant General, Mr John Caligari, said although funding for Operation Compass will conclude in 2020, the Check Your Mates campaign will continue as one of several legacies of the project.

“We first introduced the Check Your Mates campaign in 2018 as a way of generating awareness of the need to touch base with family and friends in our mission to reduce suicide and increase wellbeing in our defence and ex-defence community,” explains Mr Caligari.

“The introduction phase of this campaign was very successful, and we know this through the level of social media engagement that we tracked over twelve months and through significant anecdotal evidence and feedback from key community groups. 

“We felt the campaign had hit the mark, it was resonating within our defence community and the feedback was positive.”

“Today we are taking Check Your Mates one step further, expanding our reach and our call to action.

“We are asking our wider and regional communities to be active participants in our campaign, to improve mental wellness in our community by not just checking in, but by knowing what to do if the response is concerning.”

The Check Your Mates campaign aims to educate the community about three simple, yet highly effective steps in identifying people in need:


CONNECT to others 

Make the time to catch up -

“Let’s catch up for a coffee or a drink!”

“Let’s go fishing or for a run” 

YARN to listen 

Listen and don’t judge -

“What’s been happening?”

“How have you been travelling?” 

MOTIVATE to act 

Encourage action and offer support -

“I can take you to get some more help”

“Let’s have a chat again in a week” 


“We are asking people to check in with five friends or family members; have a chat and be confident in knowing what you can do as follow up. This action creates a ripple effect throughout our families, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities.

“Often it’s simply connection that people are craving. Loneliness, a sense of disconnection or lack of opportunities to contribute can leave people feeling isolated, and this can easily lead to a path of mental illness. By reaching out, having a yarn and listening, you will get a strong sense of how the person is travelling.

“We know it is difficult to encourage people to open up and explain their feelings; often because they do not understand how they are feeling themselves. Once the ice is broken, however, it is easier to keep the conversation going, check in with them over time and if need be, know where to turn for help.

“Suicide levels within our defence and ex-defence community are alarmingly high and this is not just a military issue, it is a community-wide issue that requires a community response.   We know the most critical period of time when ex-service personnel are most at risk is during the first 12 months post discharge.

“ The Check Your Mates campaign is a simple, yet powerful way to make a difference.”

The Check Your Mates campaign is an outcome of the Operation Compass project - the ex-ADF and Families Suicide Prevention Project, based in Townsville. Operation Compass is one of 12 National Suicide Prevention trial sites funded by the Commonwealth Government. It is the only project focused exclusively on veterans of the ADF and their families. The project is coordinated through the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network.

For media enquiries, contact Christian Gordon or 0455 900 730.

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