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Aussie App Launches With An I’m Not Ok Button

September 28, 2021 Apps No Comments
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The I’m Not OK button aims to be the safety valve for all Australians. Less confronting than approaching someone face to face, it helps people begin to talk to each other about their personal needs.

The idea for a safety app began in 2012 when Jill Meagher was fatally attacked on September 22. Three friends, Ross Sbisa and Chris Jonker, and Matt Ball, decided that people should feel safe in Australia. Sbisa recalls, “I am a father with three beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife. I thought to myself, ‘This has to stop’.” He and his wife began researching and were alarmed at how little information was out there about keeping safe. Sbisa discussed the problem with two friends, Matt Ball, a personal security expert, and Chris Jonker, a digital expert.

At first it was to be an app to keep children safe and the idea around the Safie app began to grow. The app allows people to alert their designated contact that they’re in trouble, sends images from both the front and back of the camera and pinpoints the location of where they are. When the partners called in digital expert, Chris Jonker, and began developing the app, they realised it has a vast range of applications.

The final application, the I’m Not OK button, came from the stress of lockdowns and a growing national awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues, especially in young adults.

“At first we began thinking about all the situations our kids might find themselves. We came up with everyday events like going to and from school or school sport, going to the movies or the beach with friends, wandering away on family shopping trips,” Sbisa noted.

“Then the ideas started to grow; a teen needing to be picked up from a party, an adult needing a phone call to get them out of a first date mistake, an older person who has had a mishap, or even someone who is feeling low.”

“The more research we did, the more uses we found. A young driver can let a parent know they’ve arrived safely. Businesses can use it for employees coming and going at late hours through areas that do not feel safe,” Jonker added.

The Safie app’s also unique drawcard is its panic button. Pre-written SMS alerts can notify contacts why you need help with a single press. That can be anything from a friend-to-friend “get me out of here,” to a child-to-parent “I’m lost”. The button can even be used if you’re just feeling uncomfortable in a social situation and would like a friend to call you for support or with an “out”.

(from the left) Matt Ball, Ross Sbisa, Chris Jonker

“Most important though, is talking to one another. People freeze when they’re frightened. Working out how to get out of a dangerous or awkward situation can take time or be impossible in the moment,” Sbisa stated. “If you’ve worked it out before, you can act. You get help, you get out and you get safe.” This is especially true of everyday situations. People rarely consider ahead of time what they would do if a child was lost or a date went wrong, and these situations are extremely frightening.

The new I’m not OK button aims to be the safety valve for all Australians. Less confronting than approaching someone face to face, it helps people begin to talk to each other about their personal needs.

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