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Our Purpose

Fortem Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that supports the mental health and wellbeing of first responder families – the people who protect and care for Australian communities.

The word ‘fortem’ is Latin for ‘brave’, meaning having the strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. At Fortem, this means having the courage to prioritise wellbeing, break stigma, start conversations about mental health and ill-health, address the deep impacts of first responder work, make difficult decisions – including the decision to leave first responder employment, and seek or allow support from loved ones and the community.

We use research and best-practice to develop wellbeing activities, community engagement, and psychological services which support the mental health and wellbeing of the people who work in our first responder communities. This means supporting their families too.


Our Challenge

More than 370,000 first responders protect and care for Australian communities. The demands of being first on the scene for others can mean being last on the scene for self and family. As a result, first responders experience substantially higher rates of psychological distress, mental health diagnoses and suicidal behaviours compared to workers in other high-risk industries.

Tragically, first responder families are also impacted through ‘spillover stress’, with many experiencing secondary trauma and stresses that cascade from first responder employment, and through the spillover impact to families, this issue personally touches over one million Australians.

Our Impact

Since 2019, Fortem Australia has delivered free, evidence-based wellbeing and mental health care, designed to build both skills and social networks that stand first responders in good stead in times of increased stress. We also provide evidence-based psychology support to first responders and their families, and career management services for those looking to refresh their commitment to service or transition out of service. 

As we approach four years of operation, Fortem Australia has supported over 13,000 unique individuals, received over 30,000 wellbeing activity registrations, and provided over 5,000 psychology sessions to first responders and their families across the country.

What We Deliver

Wellbeing Activities

Wellbeing Activities

Designed to build resilience by engaging individuals and their social networks to proactively look after their mental health and seek support when they need it.

Psychological support

Psychology and Counselling

Our staff are experienced and/or trained to be aware of first responder culture and concerns, because even the most resilient person is not immune to mental health issues.

Career management program

Career Management Program

Designed to help maintain a healthy workforce with proactive career development as well as supported transition for those exiting service.

FORTEAM images (10)

Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources

Our free resources are written specifically for first responder families with content that is relevant and evidence-based.

News from the first responder community

Michelle Edgar

Meet the Team: Michelle Edgar

Michelle Edgar has served in the NSW Police Force for 27 years and is now Director of Career Management at Fortem Australia, working with a dedicated team who provide 1:1 career support to first responders.

Read More »

Stories of Our Impact

Deputy Captain, ACT Rural Fire Service

"I did 250 hours during the Black Summer bushfires, and I experienced many traumatic moments. The support provided by Fortem in the years that followed, though I didn’t appreciate it at the time, was vital."

Former QLD Police Officer

"I am confident that my journey would not have been as lonely or jarring had Fortem been around during my struggles in 2013, and my subsequent transition out of service in mid-2015."

Paramedic, NSW Ambulance

"First responders are very private people – you don’t share a lot with your world, and you don’t talk about it, you just keep it inside. This is the first time I have really been connected to other services because of Fortem."

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