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New support services for Gippsland first responders and families

First responder families in the Gippsland community now have free local access to mental fitness and wellbeing support with the launch of Fortem Australia.

The barbeque launch held on Monday 17th May at the Country Fire Association’s Warragul station marks an important milestone for the people who keep this community safe and respond to calls for help.  

“As an organisation we were formed to deal with the mental health effects stemming from the Black Summer fires,” Managing Director and Co-Founder of Fortem Australia, John Bale, said.

“Given what the Gippsland community has been through, this place and its people are a special focus for us at Fortem.”

Fortem, meaning ‘brave’ in Latin, provides wellbeing activities, psychological support and mental fitness support free-of-charge for first responders and their family.

1 in 3 first responders experience high levels of psychological distress. That’s more than double the rate of the general Australian adult population.

Having already run several wellbeing activities in West Gippsland, Fortem Australia is planning many more as it looks to strengthen and build communities across all of Gippsland.

Locally Fortem is working with agencies including the Country Fire Authority, State Emergency Service, Victorian Police and Victorian Ambulance.

“I’m so proud to be part of an organisation which is focused on giving back to first responders and their families,” Mr Bale said.

“Our 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 launch was a great opportunity to start conversations with local first responders and let them know about our activities – they are free-of-charge, they’re loads of fun and they’re a great opportunity to connect with old mates or make new friends.”

A schedule of upcoming wellbeing activities for the West Gippsland region can be found on the Wellbeing Activities Calendar.

Fortem’s Clinical Services provides access to qualified psychologists and care coordinators with unlimited appointments at no cost. In person or telehealth appointments are available to eligible first responders and their families. To find out more or to book, call 1300 33 95 94.

Fortem Australia is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs; Member for Monash Russell Broadbent was in attendance at the Gippsland launch acknowledging that close relationship. Further information can be found via the Department’s  website.

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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