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Fortem Australia Launch – Canberra Region

Fortem Australia was proud to formally launch our Black Summer Bushfire services for preventive mental fitness programs for first responder families in the Canberra Region on 11th December 2020, at an event held at Jerrabomberra Creek Rural Fire Service.

Speaking at the launch, The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Emergency Management, highlighted the work that Fortem does. “Fortem’s programs will be putting an arm around our first responders and their families, while giving them the social skills to deal with the trauma they’ve experienced.”

Fortem’s Grant Program for Emergency Services Workers trauma care, including PTSD support services, is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs.

After a delicious breakfast served by Queanbeyan Rotary, and hot coffee from Coffee Kix, the attendees were welcomed by Fortem’s Managing Director and Co-Founder, John Bale.

Fortem’s Board Chair, former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, addressed the crowd, “First responders have demanding roles, and their families also take on a lot. Fortem helps to build their confidence in looking after their mental fitness and asking for help.

“We all have mental wellbeing that’s better at some points in our lives that at other times, we all need help sometimes, and we need to leave behind any stigma around that.”

Brad Griffin, Captain of the Jerrabomberra Creek Rural Fire Brigade who has been a volunteer for 19 years, welcomed Fortem and gave an insight into the challenges the bushfire brigade and community faced during the 2019/ 2020 bushfires. With a fire truck rolling and another being hit by a falling tree resulting in crew members being hospitalised, he acknowledged that being a first responder has it’s moments. The need for support services inclusive of family was recognised. “Certainly talking about it and getting it out there, and particularly for the members of their families, because they experience it as well. I think what Fortem is endeavouring to do and starting up is great.”

ACT Rural Fire Service volunteer, Brad Van Tol, from Guises Creek RFB also gave an insight into the effects being a volunteer can have on family, being away from home for extended periods, balancing full time work, as well as the impact he felt through being a crew leader and peer support officer, during the Black Summer Bushfires.

In attendance to support the launch were Kristy McBain, MP, Member for Eden-Monaro, Andrew Wallace, MP, Member for Fisher, Justine Saunders, Fortem Advisory Board member and Deputy Commissioner, Australian Border Force, Ray Johnson, Deputy Commissioner ACT Emergency Services Agency and Tina Cox, Executive Branch Manager at ACT Emergency Services Agency and Senator Jim Molan.

The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister Emergency Management at today’s launch

“Fortem has a passion, a conviction, about first responders families and supporting their mental wellbeing.” The Hon David Littleproud, MP

Fortem supports first responder families to proactively look after their wellbeing and mental fitness. Our services for first responders and their families include: 

  • Wellbeing Activities
  • Psychological Support and Care Coordination
  • Mental Fitness Support

Fortem has wellbeing activities scheduled for the Canberra Region in the coming weeks (find Wellbeing Activities on our calendar). These wellbeing activities offer first responder families a chance to relax and connect with other families while forming the support networks vital for good mental health.

Our services have been extended to help those affected by Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, thanks to a Grant Program for Emergency Services Workers trauma care, including PTSD support services, funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs.

Fortem’s psychology support and care coordination services are available for all first responder families with access to qualified psychologists, and unlimited appointments at no cost. This service can be accessed by calling 1300 33 95 94.

Fortem supports local business in the regions we service. Thank you to Janine Fabre Photography for capturing these amazing professional photos.