Supporting an Organisation Following a Critical Incident

Mrs Rebecca Elliott, Senior Social Worker with the Queensland Police Service joins us at the 2018 International Mental Health Conference to discuss ‘Supporting an Organisation Following a Critical Incident’.

Abstract: Supporting an organisation following a critical incident.

First responder agencies provide an immediate response to incidents that impact neighbourhoods and the wider community.

In the past few years there has been an increasing body of research into the mental health of first responders. This research informs the model of care and provision of support within first responder agencies, for maintaining the mental health of their workforce. However, there are incidents that impact upon the mental health of an entire organisation. One such incident occurred in 2017, when a Queensland police officer was killed in the line of duty.

Although there are many options to address individual trauma and access support, there are unique challenges in providing support to large groups and an entire organisation. A support plan must include management of immediate needs of members while also preparing for long term interventions.

This presentation will share the experiences of two social workers who coordinated the provision of care for Queensland Police Service through the grief of losing one of their own. The coordinated provision of care includes:

• short and long-term planning [for both crisis and consistent care]
• the power of communication and a common story
• coping strategies and stigma in first responders

This presentation will not provide a ‘magic solution’ nor one size fits all approach. Instead, we will share the evidence-based strategies that have been effective in our context, as well as sharing an outline of our journey thus far, as grief is not a linear experience but rather a journey that is shared.

By Rebecca Elliott


Rebecca Elliott, Senior Social Worker for the Queensland Police Service, coordinates client support services across the largest geographical districts in Southern Queensland and has first-hand experience in providing a clinical service in a rural location. Rebecca has 12 years as a social worker, employed in a range of fields including community mental health, young people and youth at risk, palliative and cancer care plus her 4 years working with the Queensland Police Service has placed her in a great position to be able to share her knowledge, experience and learnings from this tragic event.

For further information on the upcoming 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit


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