29 June 2023

Fortem tenders submission to Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience 

Approximately 370,000 first responders protect and care for Australian communities. Due to the nature of emergency work, first responders experience substantially higher rates of psychological distress and diagnosed mental health conditions than the general adult population and workers in other high-risk occupations.  

Following the Senate Select Committee’s formal Inquiry into the support required to improve Australia’s resilience and response to natural disasters Fortem Australia made a submission emphasising the need to support the mental health and wellbeing of the disaster response and recovery workforce – Australia’s first responders.  

For many first responders and their families, working in disaster affected regions often comes at a deeply personal cost. Layered on top of traumatic and already highly demanding duties, disaster response work adds an additional burden to individuals on the frontline. 

In this submission, Fortem Australia makes several high-impact recommendations for policy reform and future government investment to enhance the wellbeing and overall resilience of Australia’s disaster response workforce: 

  • Investing in first responder wellbeing and building their capacity for resilience is a national priority and critical to the success of disaster response and recovery efforts.  
  • Nationally consistent, coordinated and well-funded mental health supports will ensure that first responders can remain at their best when they are putting their lives on the line for others. 

Fortem Australia will support all levels of government to improve mental health outcomes for the first responder community through policy submissions and position statements, driving change where it is needed most.  

Fortem’s policy priorities will boldly advocate for the reform and investment required to support Australia’s brave first responders and their families. 

Read more about Fortem’s senate submission (items 106 and 106.1).