Our Fortem ambassadors support our endeavours to support first responder families… they are first responder families.
Grant is passionate about assisting and promoting the great work Fortem does around social connectedness, education and awareness of the impact mental health injuries have on those who place their life on the line to protect our communities, as well as the mental wellbeing of their families and loved ones.
Grant retired from the Australian Federal Police after 34 years of dedicated service. He has enjoyed a truly diverse career working across all facets of local, national and international policing, and transnational crime. He has held numerous senior multi-jurisdictional roles in Interpol, United Nations and during his deployment to Afghanistan as Mission Commander and Deputy Head of the International Police Coordination Board Afghanistan. During his role as the AFP’s senior officer in Timor-Leste, Grant held the role of Advisor to the Secretary of State for Security within the Government of Timor-Leste and oversaw the international investigation into the attempted assassination attempts of President Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. Amongst many other career highlights, Grant established the AFP’s Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Team to address crimes of sexual exploitation of woman and children and travelling child sex offenders.
Grant also held positions as the AFP’s international Liaison Officer in Los Angeles and completed a three year posting to Washington DC as the AFP’s most senior officer in the Americas, responsible for all law enforcement engagement with Canada, USA, Mexico, Central and South America.
Grant is an accomplished sportsperson having represented Australia in athletics, bobsleigh, powerlifting and the Scottish Highland Games. He has competed across the world in Strongman events, including the 1999 World’s Strongest Man competition in Malta. He is well known for physically pulling planes, boats and trucks, culminating in a Guinness World Record for single-handedly pulling a 201-tonne steam locomotive in 1997. In 2017, he single-handedly pulled a 178-tonne C-17 US Military Globemaster in the USA to raise awareness for mental health in policing and law enforcement.
Grant holds a Master’s degree in leadership, policy and governance studies through Charles Sturt University, a Bachelor of Arts (Australian National University) and is a graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Senior Executive Program. He has presented across the globe on identifying and enhancing a unified universal best practice for managing the mental health of police, family and retired members.
He is a passionate advocate in the field of mental health, especially for police, first responders and the emergency services. In 2017, ABC’s Australian Story broadcast his personal lived experience of PTSD. In 2019, Grant published his memoir, The Strong Man.
Kate is passionate about supporting Fortem to help family members, partners, children and friends of those living with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Kate’s husband, Grant Edwards, is a decorated former Police Officer with the Australian Federal Police. When Grant returned from his posting in Afghanistan, Kate noticed a huge change in his behaviour.
He isolated himself from Kate and their daughter, threw himself into work, training and medical appointments as he tried to get answers about why his body was failing him. As he turned to self-medicating behaviours and alcohol abuse, Kate believed he had a mental injury, rather than a physical injury, but Grant was not having any part of that suggestion.
Kate spent years searching for the help and support she needed to remain strong and keep their family together. There was nothing available for her, as the partner of a Police Officer with declining mental health, to reach out for support.
When Kate felt like she had no where else to turn she reached out to her sports psychologist, who guided Grant through the next few months and helped him to understand and accept that his body was shutting down in order to force him to stop and take care of his mental health. Grant was later diagnosed with PTSD.
Kate began her career as a primary school PE teacher, while training towards her dream of making the National Rowing Squad. With the help of a sports psychologist, she then transitioned to become a personal trainer and business owner.
Kate shares her story with others who are going through similar challenges, to help them know that the rollercoaster of emotions they may be feeling is normal.
Andy Rhodes dedicates his working life to the wellbeing of first responders, and believes that organisations like Fortem are vital for the mental health of those who serve our communities.
Andy is the Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary, one of 43 forces in England and Wales, with a workforce of 6,000. He is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for wellbeing, staff engagement and organisational development.
Andy has worked with experts from across policing and academia and is the service lead for the National Wellbeing Service (NPWS), Oscar Kilo, funded by Government & Public Health England, and servicing a community of over 200,000 law enforcement and fire professionals. The Oscar Kilo program comprises a range of services from line manager and executive leadership training to psychological support. The NPWS team coordinate a fleet of 10 outreach vehicles, which are kitted out with health screening equipment. This represents a vital front end to the service which is highly visible: over 10,000 members of staff have accessed early intervention (physical, psychological and financial) check-ups in the last 12 months. In crisis events, the fleet is used to forward deploy for use in trauma debriefs.
His policing background has been mainly in the uniform and specialist operations disciplines including Counter Terrorism Firearms Command.
For the last five years, Andy has held the position of Professional Community Chair for OD and International Policing in the College of Policing. He was awarded the QPM in 2016 and has an MBA and a Post Graduate Certificate in coaching. He is Chair of CPOSA the Chief Police Officers Staff Association.
Andy is COVID-19 national police lead for testing and personal protective equipment as well as HR policy.
Andy is currently preparing his doctoral research study, which will focus on wellbeing.
Outside of work, Andy has two children and two grandchildren, and is married to Helen, a psychotherapist who specialises in drug and alcohol recovery. Andy has developed a passion for the ancient Chinese practice of QiGong, and enjoys competitive triathlons.