Today Fortem Australia launched “Moral Challenges: Vocational Wellbeing among first responders”, a collection of experiences on moral challenges in the first responder community, edited by Professor Tom Frame AM, from the University of New South Wales.
The first responder community – police, ambulance, firefighters, emergency services and border protection – face many challenges in serving the public interest. First responders see the hard realities of our society. They are exposed to trauma at rates that are more than double that of the general population.
This book is an opportunity to explore issues around moral and psychological wellbeing within these roles that expose people to dangers on a daily basis. This edited collection of insightful perspectives is a first attempt to draw on the experiences of qualified practitioners and the expertise of leading academics to examine the moral dimensions of vocational wellbeing.
Each chapter was written by a different contributor, each with rich experience in research or leadership in the first responder community. Themes that come up again and again include:
- the importance of listening to and learning from lived experiences,
- the expectations and challenges that the first responder community faces
- the stigma that is so prevalent around mental health challenges,
- the ways we can all help to decrease that stigma, and
- the promising conversations and actions that will no doubt help to protect those who put so much on the line.
John Bale, Director of Fortem Australia, recognised the importance of such a book.
“We now know about the consequences to their mental wellbeing that first responders – and their family members – are experiencing. Fortem is here to build both programs and knowledge to build a more resilient workforce and families. This book is an important step in that process. Without leadership, new ground is difficult to break.
This book was written to explore new research and best practice approaches, so that we can learn from each other and analyse each of our roles within this field. It was also written by those that have seen their fair share and now, as leaders, wanted to share their experience to support their workforce.”
Professor Frame engaged the audience with his story, reminding us that we all have a story and that we are really human doings not human beings.
Following was a panel discussion hosted by Leanne Close, Head of Counter Terrorism, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which featured
- Fortem ambassador Grant Edwards, former Commander Americas for the Australian Federal Police
- Robert McNeil, Assistant Commissioner Regional Operations Fire and Rescue NSW
- Stephen Hayward, First Assistant Secretary, Health Services Division, Department of Home Affairs
- Andrew Colvin, APM OAM, former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police and current Commissioner of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency