Pressures of COVID-19, plus fire & flood disasters make Thank a First Responder Day more important than ever

Less than one week out from Thank a First Responder Day, Fortem Australia is encouraging people in communities across Australia to rally around first responders and help them feel appreciated on June 9

The whole community is encouraged to post social media messages of thanks using #ThankAFirstResponder or #PowerOfThanks, or by hosting events in their community.

Popular suggestions involve random acts of kindness, such as:

• School classes sending through Thank You cards and drawings to their local stations
• Many cafes and local businesses are offering free coffee on June 9.
• Using outdoor message boards, billboards or public spaces to post messages of support to first responders
• Visit for more suggestions on ways to show your appreciation for first responders on Wednesday, June 9.

Managing Director and Co-founder of Fortem, John Bale, says saying thanks is more important than ever this year.

“Our first responders have had a massive year – not only dealing with disasters like flooding, but also with the extra red tape and regulation around COVID 19, which has made their day-to-day work even more stressful and challenging,” John says.

“First responders are the last people to advertise the work they do – but after last 12 months, they really need to hear us say thanks.”

Even during ‘normal’ years, first responders face risks that are unique to their roles.

Recent studies show that the cumulative effects of repeated traumatic and dangerous situations by police, paramedics, firefighters, emergency service teams put them at far greater risk of psychological distress and mental health conditions than those in other professions.

Fortem’s General Manager of Service Delivery and clinical psychologist Jae Lee, says initiatives such as Thank a First Responder Day help alleviate stress by boosting resilience and wellbeing.

“Feeling appreciated is incredibly important to our wellbeing – saying thank you to our first responders is about fostering a sense of ‘we’re all in this together’,” Jae says.

“Helping first responders feel engaged and valued in their local communities is a really practical thing that we can all do, to help boost the well-being of our first responders across Australia.”

The community support will complement a range of activities being held for first responders and their families by Fortem Australia, in locations across the country:

Gold Coast Free barbeque breakfast for first responders (unfortunately, yoga cancelled). Coffee catch-up in Northern NSW. Thank You drop-offs to local stations.

Port Macquarie – All day Thank You drop-offs to local stations. Free painting class for first responders. Coffs Harbour – Free coffee for first responders – Muffin Breaks at Coffs Central, Coffs Park Beach Plaza and Toormina Gardens.

Sydney – Governor-General’s Morning Tea, Admiralty House. Free coffee for first responders at NormCore Coffee Roasters – Sydney CBD, Muffin Break – Central Station, Muffin Break – Redfern, Underground Eatery – Surry Hills, Impresso Espresso – Sydney Airport, Brickworks – Artarmon (6 – 8am), Glenorie Bakery and Bakehouse Café – Hills District, Pickle and Lou Café – Wattle Grove, Stay Grounded Café – Collaroy. Thank You cards and chocolates drop-off to local stations.

Wollongong – Free wellbeing breakfast for local first responders. Thank You drop-offs to local stations.

Yass, Queanbeyan and Canberra Region – Free coffee for first responders – Majura Park Muffin Break, Emergency Services ACT free breakfast and coffee, free breakfast and coffee at Yass, free coffee van, free coffee and thank you drop offs for ACT and NSW Police.

Bega ValleyFree morning tea for first responders followed by screening of Thank You video at Bega Civic Centre. First responder storytime at Bermagui Library.

Warragul/West Gippsland Thank a First Responder Virtual Family Comedy Night for Victorian first responders.

Melbourne – Thank You package deliveries to local first responders including children’s pictures and stories.

Thank a First Responder Day monument teal light ups:

Sydney – Town Hall, Brisbane – Storey Bridge, Victoria Bridge and Gateway Bridge, Coffs Harbour – Big Banana, Canberra – Old Parliament House, Telstra Tower and National Carillon, Newcastle – Clock Tower, Wodonga – The Cube, Melbourne – the Melbourne Star, Federation Square, State Parliament of Victoria and AAMI Stadium, Perth – the Bell Tower, City Hall, Elizabeth Quay, Trafalgar Bridge, the Sky Ribbon, Joondaloop Drive, the Mt Street Bridge, the Matagarup Bridge, Adelaide – City Bridge, Goulburn – the Big Merino.

Visit to find out how you can show your appreciation to Australia’s first responders on Wednesday, June 9. 

Thank a First Responder Day is an initiative of not-for-profit agency Fortem Australia and first responder agencies across Australia.

Mental health resources for first responders and their families can be found in the Fortem Resource Library.

To make an appointment with one of Fortem’s psychologists, call 1300 33 95 94.

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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