Fortem recently invited first responder from the West Gippsland area for an adventure at Healesville Sanctuary. It was a chance to enjoy a family day out, spending time together in the school holidays, interacting with native wildlife in a stunning bushland setting. Our wellbeing activities also offer an opportunity to connect with other local first responder families. A wonderful aspect of spending time at the sanctuary was learning about Australian native animals, local threatened and endangered species, as well as learning ways to become involved and be active in helping our environment and endangered animals. Let’s hear from the Fortem team about the experience and highlights!
“While the sanctuary is renowned for seeing our beautiful native Australian animals, an added feature over the school holidays was seeing “Dinos at the Zoo.” For some of the kids, this was definitely the first thing on the list to see. For those of us who are not huge dinosaur fans, it was still ultimately impressive to see the lifesize animated beasts, scattered amongst the Australian setting. The woolly mammoth was a big hit, and for the dinosaur enthusiasts, the favourites were anything from the triceratops to a range of uncommon dinosaurs.
As we made our way around the sanctuary, we were fortunate with the dry, mild weather as we explored the massive area. The sanctuary provided us with a great lunch which all our first responder families enjoyed sitting on the lawn or undercover. It was a great opportunity to come together and meet each other, and enjoy chatting about the wildlife such as the platypus and echidna.
Some of the kids played with the lawn games and made friends with each other chasing and hiding, building connections with other first responder families. Families sat together on picnic rugs and it was great to see families having fun, relaxing and talking with each other, strengthening their relationships.
We also had a lot of Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers and teens who are in the CFA junior brigades. It was great to see the bonding between the brigades as several participants have now met each other at a few of the activities. It was also pleasing to see one of our paramedics come to an activity who is just new to the job, to encourage him to look after his wellbeing right from the start.
We gathered in a large circle at the end of lunch, all 51 of us, and made quick introductions of our families and the agency each family represented. Shaun, our Fortem Care Coordinator, introduced his care coordination role. It was also great for Shaun to spend time during the activity interacting with the families, having some good conversations with the CFA crews about our services for first responder families.
Wellbeing activities are fun, but they are also a great chance to remind everyone of our upcoming wellbeing activities and the importance of connecting, as well as incorporating Fortem’s services and programs as part of preventative strategies for mental health issues. Our Clinical Services, which includes psychology support and care coordination, are an independent option for the whole family, which can assist in handling issues before they reach a crisis point.”
Find a Wellbeing Activity in the West Gippsland region on our Wellbeing Activity Calendar.