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First responder families seen and heard at Beyond Duty Summit

Fortem’s Beyond Duty Summit this week was a milestone in the community’s understanding of the impacts that exposure to high stress work and potentially traumatic events can have on first responders and their family members.

Over 700 people registered for each of the three live video sessions, brought together around the theme – What is the bigger picture in first responder wellbeing?

“If the chat happening on the sidelines is anything to go by, we have reached a critical point in our response to the mental health needs of these important people,” says Darrin Lincoln, Acting Managing Director, Fortem Australia.

“The Beyond Duty Summit gave the first responder community an opportunity to be seen and heard. There were many powerful moments which drove a loud call to action for all who have a responsibility in this space.

“The powerhouse role that family and social connections play in wellbeing and mental fitness was really evident and reinforces the importance we place on those relationships through our wellbeing activities and clinical supports.

“The community members we heard from spoke of the need to reduce the gap between work and family for first responders – the two are intertwined and need to be seen as such and respected.”

The Beyond Duty Summit builds on the ‘Answering the Call’ report which highlighted higher rates of psychological distress; higher rates of mental health conditions; and higher rates of suicidal thinking and planning in the first responder community.

The summit attracted emergency service representatives from every Australian state and territory, along with first responders from The United Kingdom, Canada, United States, and New Zealand.

“The job of a first responder is not normal and needs extra support, thinking, and organisational frameworks,” Mr Lincoln says.

“There is still work to do within the culture and structures of first responder agencies when it comes to reducing stigma and respecting mental health needs in career advancement.

“Equally, the power of the individual to shape their own mental fitness rang loudly and inspires action from within.

“The summit demonstrated a real commitment at all levels of the first responder community to take action – Fortem stands ready and will continue to lead this work.

“Thank you to everyone who took part in ‘Beyond Duty’, especially our great speakers and sponsors – EML, KPMG and Public Sector Network.”

Recordings from ‘Beyond Duty’ will be published to the Fortem Australia website over the coming weeks. The community is invited to share those recourses widely, be agents for change themselves and keep the conversation and connection going.

Artworks by Phillip Marsden and Ken Chung, our digital scribes from KPMG.

Phil has loved drawing since he was a kid, inspired by comic books and Saturday morning cartoons. He has worked in editorial illustration for the UK music press, illustrated a number of children’s books and is an avid painter.

Ken, has global experience delivering creative services in graphic design, illustration and storyboarding for TV, film and animation. He is currently exploring new forms of communications via Augmented and Mixed Reality.

What this space for more of their reflections from the Beyond Duty Summit.

Fortem activities, events and community engagements are designed to support the mental fitness of our first responder families. Read more about Our Approach.
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