If life is in danger

Beyond Blue 24/7 crisis support

Fortem Australia during business hours

Why we exist

First responders protect and care for our communities. The work they do and have done is vitally important. It is also often confronting, traumatic, and dangerous.


  • The first responder community experiences higher rates of psychological distress, diagnosed mental health conditions and suicidal thinking than the general adult population.

  • First responders experience significantly higher rates of exposure to trauma, with estimated rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder up to three times higher than the general population in Australia.

  • Research consistently finds high levels of burnout and exhaustion among first responders which results in reduced productivity, job dissatisfaction and cynicism.

  • There is evidence that emergency and law enforcement work can cause significant spillover stress in first responders’ families.

  • Over two thirds of first responders resist seeking support due to the stigma.

  • The inherent stress of first responder work was exacerbated by the devastating 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, further compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other recent large scale emergency events.

These are big problems. Fortem is part of the solution.

Through our co-founders’ previous work at Soldier On, we saw first-hand how veterans and their families benefited from social connection and mental health support. Families told us that this support saved their relationships; veterans said it saved their lives. First responder families need similar support, provided in a way that serves the unique challenges they face.

Fortem Australia was founded to provide specialised wellbeing and mental fitness support to first responder families.

Fortem Australia was established in mid-2019 to fill an urgent need for mental health and wellbeing support for first responders and their families, further intensified by the devastating Black Summer bushfires in 2019-2020, and the associated trauma endured by first responders and their loved ones.


We are a national not-for-profit organisation with a community approach and a family focus

We use research and best-practice to develop wellbeing activities, community engagement, and psychological services which support the mental health and wellbeing of the people who work in our national security and emergency responder communities. This means supporting their families too.


Family members of first responders can be vicariously traumatised through secondary exposure. This, alongside challenges of shift work, lone parenting, concern for their loved one, and the impacts of their duties — even after leaving service  can take a toll on wellbeing and relationships. We exist to connect first responders and their inner circles to create stronger, healthier relationships and lifestyles.

“The power of connection and reaching out for help have never been as critical as they are now. Our team is passionate about creating change for first responder families, and we look forward to connecting with you.”
-John Bale, Fortem Australia co-founder
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