While resilient, frontline workers are at high risk of poor mental health.
Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and psychological distress amongst sector workers are on the rise. Pandemic challenges, worker shortages, and extreme weather events continue to intensify the problem.
What this points to is an urgent need for tailored support and care.
Connect with leaders and managers in police, fire, defence, rescue, and emergency services. Collaborate on solutions to improve frontline mental health. Learn from each sector and discover new ways to provide tailored care for your workers.
One in three emergency workers suffer from high to very high levels of psychological distress.
One police officer, paramedic or firefighter is taking their own life every 6 weeks.
10% of frontline workers have probable PTSD, compared to an estimated 4% of the general population.
National Coronial Information System Intentional Self-Harm Among Emergency Services Personnel 2015
National Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services (2016-2020)
NSW/ACT Training Manager, LivingWorks Australia
Belinda Connell has been a registered Social Worker for 25 years and has over 10 years’ experience in suicide prevention, delivering LivingWorks’ suicide intervention training in Australia and overseas. Prior to joining LivingWorks, Belinda worked in Government and Non-Government sectors and has also served as a sworn Police Officer with the NSW Police Service. This experience has helped her establish and nurture relationships with first responders, ultimately building LivingWorks’ network of safety. As State Training Manager for NSW and ACT, Belinda oversees and supports a network of more than 190 LivingWorks ASIST and safeTALK trainers, and sits on the Suicide Prevention Australia NSW/ACT Joint Committee.
Respectful Workplace Officer, NSW Police Force
Sgt Matt Ireland is in his 23rd year within the NSWPF. He has served within metropolitan, regional and remote areas of NSW. He spent 6 years with the NSWPF Mental Health Intervention Team. Sgt Ireland has an Honours Degree in Psychology and was a PhD candidate in 2018 when he was seriously assaulted whilst on duty. After a significant time out of the workplace following a diagnosis of PTSD, he now holds a position within the NSWPF People and Capability Command. In 2022 he walked the Camino de Santiago - an 850km journey across Spain.
Managing Director, Capital Integrity and Fortem Australia Ambassador
Cameron is the Founder and Managing Director of Capital Integrity, a strategic counsel and government relations consultancy that helps clients in the tech and cyber fields engage with government and industry.
Cameron served fourteen years in the Australian Federal Police, most of this time in leadership roles, and as an AFP advisor to the federal government. He also led some of Australia’s biggest corporate criminal matters including foreign bribery and corruption investigations.
Cameron has deep expertise in engagement with senior decision makers in government both domestically and internationally and uses this expertise to align the needs of government and his clients.
Cameron is a strong advocate for first responders and the need to provide support to this under resourced cohort, and he and his wife Sharn are both proud Fortem Australia Ambassadors.
Senior Mental Health Adviser at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Dr Poerio is currently the Senior Mental Health Adviser at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs where she provides clinical advice to support policy, program development and research in relation to mental health, and contributes to the broader focus on mental health in DVA. She has also held the position of Assistant National Manager of the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (now Open Arms). Dr Poerio has a deep connection with the military; she worked as a Psychologist and clinical supervisor for the ADF in Darwin, her husband served the Army for 27 years, and her youngest daughter is currently serving in the Australian Air Force.
She has practised in the field of psychology in both clinical and management/advisory roles for over 25 years. She completed her PhD at Griffith University and her Clinical Masters at the University of Adelaide. Dr Poerio has worked in professional positions at the executive level across a range of organisations including the University of Sydney, Department of Defence, Centrelink, and the Commonwealth Department of Human Services.
She also works in part-time clinical practice, with her areas of interest involving trauma, bereavement, organisational change, resilience, workplace health, depression and anxiety.
Regional Director South Queensland, Open Arms - Veterans and Families
Pip Weiland commissioned in the Australian Army Psychology Corps in 2003, and during her 17 year career performed diverse roles across clinical, operational, research and staff positions. She completed her military service as the Commanding Officer 1st Psychology Unit, and is now the Regional Director South Queensland Open Arms, where she continues to support veteran and family mental health. Pip is passionate about evidence-based treatment, and has a special interest in psychological resilience and mental health issues associated with exposure to combat.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Interoperability, Fire Rescue Victoria
Tony is a career firefighter with over 25 years’ experience. He has tertiary qualifications in business and emergency management and was the Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) / Director - Emergency Medical Response / Wellbeing which included managing organisational wellbeing for the Country Fire Authority (CFA) of Victoria. At CFA he implemented a tailored wellbeing program for staff and volunteers and was a strong advocate for mental health, leading to the transition of the Wellbeing department from People and Culture into the non-traditional Operations Directorate, establishing wellbeing as being equally important as responding a fire truck. Tony commenced with Fire Rescue Victoria in 2020 and is the ACFO / Director of the Interoperability Department.
Senior Project Officer, Wellbeing Strategy Team, Queensland Police Service
Todd is a Senior Sergeant with the Queensland Police Service, currently seconded to the Wellbeing Strategy Team as a Senior Project Officer, where he is working on (PFA / PSO Reviews and Suicide Framework). Todd’s policing career spans over 20 years and has seen him work across a variety of settings including People Capability Command, Financial and Cyber Crime, Electronic Evidence, Railway Squad and General Duties. Todd a Peer Support Officer, volunteering to assist and support his colleagues experiencing personal and work-related difficulties. Todd is passionate about mental health, in particular the impact of frontline service on the psychological wellbeing of first responders.
Director, College for Law, Education and Training
Dr Kate Martin is the Director of CLET Training and has over 15 years experience working with former and current police, military and emergency services workers. With a background in law and raised in a police family, Kate completed her doctoral studies with Charles Sturt University in 2020 having researched the transition processes for first responders and how this impacts their post service employment satisfaction. In her pursuit of answers for the challenges faced by service personnel Kate holds 11 higher education qualifications including a Master of Disaster and Emergency Response from Edith Cowan University, a Master of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism from Macquarie University and a Bachelor of Psychological Science from Swinburne University.
Kate’s work with CLET Training directly applies evidence-based research to support police, military and emergency services personnel in understanding their reality, both in and out of the job, and to help with the transition process, when it occurs. Acknowledging that physical and mental health injuries are only part of the challenge faced by this group, Kate’s work has a direct focus on the diverse and complex nature of the service-based experiences and seeks to offer an informed approach to pave the way both within and without service.
Senior Psychologist & Co-founder, Mindarma And The Black Dog Institute
Dr Sadhbh (Sive) Joyce) is the Principal Psychologist, meditation teacher and co-founder of Mindarma and has experience across clinical, academic and industrial settings. She is an External Fellow with the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Medicine. Sadhbh has over 17 years’ experience working in Mental Health. She provides evidence-based therapy to those struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, bereavement and workplace injury. Sadhbh has worked in inpatient and outpatient settings as well as occupational rehabilitation. Following her research with first-responders, Sadhbh co-founded Mindarma in 2016 with the aim of bringing evidence-based programs to the workplace. This award-winning holistic program teaches practical skills and strategies to help bolster adaptive psychological resilience and wellbeing. Mindarma has since been adopted as a core workplace mental health initiative by numerous organisations including Ambulance Victoria, New South Wales Ambulance, NSW Health, Department of Fire and Emergency Services Western Australia, UNICEF, Queensland Fire and Rescue, Queensland SES, Queensland RFS, NSW Health Pathology, Reuters, Department of Communities and Justice NSW, Business Victoria, Mercy Health Services Victoria, MS Australia, UNSW- LAW, University of Wollongong, TAFE Queensland and TAFE NSW. Sadhbh was recently awarded the Australian Psychological Society Significant Contribution Award in recognition of her successful translational research. You can read more about Sadhbh’s work here.
Associate Lecturer in Paramedicine, Western Sydney University
Buck Reed is Lecturer in Paramedicine at the Western Sydney University; Buck is a Registered Paramedic and practices clinically in the state of New South Wales. Buck is a Churchill Fellows and first paramedic graduate of the NSW Health Rural Research Capacity Building Program. Buck is a PhD candidate researching paramedic regulation and identity and holds a Master of International Health Management. Buck has been involved in designing wellbeing programs around paramedicine students and has presented on paramedic student resilience and wellness. Buck is heavily involved in the Australian paramedicine community as an academic, researcher and a member of the Australian College of Paramedicine Future of Paramedicine Working Group.
Engagement Manager, Fortem Australia
James Maskey is a passionate engagement and advocacy professional, striving to enhance the mental, personal and social wellbeing of the emergency services community. James is also a retired front-line Queensland Police Officer with a service history including General Duties and the Child Protection & Investigation Unit. In 2013, James was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
James is currently the 'Engagement Manager' of Fortem Australia. Fortem provides evidence-based, comprehensive and integrated mental health and wellbeing support to first responders, and their families. In this position, James is responsible for developing and implementing engagement strategies across multiple stakeholders, including corporate, national security and first responder agencies to build sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships.
In addition, James remains a tireless advocate of creating mentally healthy workplaces, tackling stigma and improving help-seeking behaviours in the emergency services sector. In doing so, James supports executive and front line leaders in the emergency services sector to drive industry-led and sustained educational, cultural and policy changes that have a tangible impact for those on the ground.
For his ongoing mental health advocacy pursuits, in March 2020, James was recognised as one of 25 Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 Award recipients for 2019. In May 2019, James was also announced as a finalist in the Victorian Young Achiever of the Year Award in the ‘Create Change’ category.
As a world record holder and ultra-endurance athlete, James has represented Australia on the world stage in ultra-marathon running, raising funds for mental health organisations. James utilises his endurance pursuits as a platform to passionately share his own lived experience of mental health difficulties, challenge mental health stigma and encourage the help-seeking behaviours of others who may be impacted by mental health conditions.
Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA)
Matt Newlands is the Lived Experience Stakeholder Engagement Manager for Military and Emergency Services Health Australia.
As a former Police Officer with the SA Police; serving ten years in uniform and plain-clothes frontline roles, Matt was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and depression in 2015. Matt spent the following years learning strategies to not only survive but thrive despite mental health challenges.
Matt also operates his own business presenting keynotes, counselling first responders and delivering workshops. Matt is a national Community Ambassador for RUOK? and holds a position on the South Australian Government’s Suicide Prevention Council, representing the first responder community.
Senior Firefighter and Peer Supporter, Fire & Rescue NSW
Tara is a professional firefighter and peer support officer with Fire and Rescue NSW. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of New England and was awarded the inaugural Australian Rotary Health scholarship for research into the mental health of emergency service workers in 2018. Her research focusses on understanding the impact of suicide on firefighters. She is also the internationally published author of Standing on My Brother’s Shoulders – Making peace with Grief and Suicide. Tara is a Mental Health First Aid instructor and has managed the psychological wellbeing program in Fire and Rescue NSW working with researchers at the Black Dog Institute to implement programs aimed at building resilience and improving mental health outcomes in firefighters. She was a finalist in the Rotary Inspirational Woman of the Year awards in 2017 and was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2022 for her work supporting the mental health of firefighters. In March 2021 Tara cycled 5000km unsupported from the western most point to the eastern most point of Australia raising over $21k for Lifeline and awareness for two organisations for which is an ambassador - Fortem Australia and StandBy Support After Suicide. Her mission is to use the voice of lived experience in her research to effect meaningful change at individual, organisational and community level.
Director, Response Mental Health Peer Support
I am a current serving Custodial Correctional Officer with Queensland Corrective Services for over ten years with a Lived experience in PTSD.
I am also the founder of Response Mental Health Peer Support Inc. Response began as a closed Facebook group which has rapidly grown to around 1200 members.
We then became a not for profit, and soon after we achieved a major goal and millstone of being registered as a charity with the ACNC.
Response is run by Custodial Correctional Officers with a lived experience and is established to be a charity whose purpose is to advance health by preventing and controlling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of custodial correctional officers in Queensland, by undertaking the following activities:
Executive Director, Australian Institute of Police Management
Stuart Bartels is the Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM). Unique in the police and public safety landscape, the AIPM works with hundreds of police and public safety leaders each year to nurture and develop their executive leadership capabilities.
Drawing on an extensive policing career, Stuart champions and drives the connection between today’s complex policing and public safety challenges and the role of leaders and leadership. A passionate advocate for people centred leadership, Stuart views leadership development as an experiential process and is committed to creating a safe learning environment where leaders can reflect, challenge, observe, and grow.
Stuart views contemporary national and international policing and public safety context as central to leader development, and to that end continues to drive partnerships with organisations across the globe. The list of partner organisations is extensive and includes local and international universities, peak policing bodies, First Nations leaders, mental health advocates, and law enforcement bodies including the FBI, the US Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre (FLETC), Police Scotland, Netherlands Police, Singapore Police, Pacific Island Chiefs and many more. Within this list of organisations Stuart sits on a range of related committees and advisory boards.
Stuart’s qualifications include a Master of Public Policy and Administration and a Bachelor of Science (Forensic Investigation). In addition, he is a proud graduate of the AIPM’s own Police Leadership Strategy (PLS), a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Interchange program, and an IECL Certified Organisational Coach. Stuart has been awarded a Commissioners Commendation, the Commissioners Medal for Excellence and an Australian Police Medal.
Stuart is married with two children and in his spare time enjoys music and sport.
Manager, Psychological Health and Wellbeing
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