They are the frontline of our community, aiding the injured and keeping us safe. Our law enforcement and emergency service workers are there when we need them, but a frontline job can take its toll, with one-in-two first-responders experiencing a traumatic event in the course of their work.
Recognising a need for independent, preventative support for first responders and their law enforcement and national security counterparts, Fortem Australia was established in 2019 by John Bale and Danielle Clout, the co-founders of Soldier On. They wanted to do for law enforcement and emergency service workers what Soldier On has done for Defence personnel.
Studies show that connection is an important part of good mental health and can help to maintain wellbeing in the face of repeated exposure to severe stressors.
Fortem Australia Managing Director John Bale says Fortem is all about connecting Australia’s law enforcement, national security and first-responder communities to a wider support network to help improve their wellbeing.
“Fortem is about keeping people connected. When family doesn’t understand or when we don’t have the right connections, solitude can be a real problem, so keeping connected can help. We are here to connect families together to strengthen family bonds, connect communities together to enable awareness, education and support, and connect organisations together to foster a collective effort around wellbeing,” John explained.
John says Fortem is delivering evidence-based support programs specifically designed to address the unique challenges faced by the national security and emergency response community. These programs are delivered virtually as well as in person.
“Studies show that including family units in recovery can have positive impacts so this is a family program. We build on family strengths while helping families to better understand, communicate and connect with their law enforcement or emergency service worker.”
John says that Fortem organises sport programs, including surf trips down the coast, movie nights and generally promotes a healthy lifestyle to prevent mental health injuries.
“Obviously with COVID-19 we can’t deliver all that right now but we are still running trivia, yoga and other preventative physical exercise. We know it is a hard road recovering from PTSD or other mental health-related injuries so Fortem is offering a preventative space, and we work closely with national security and law enforcement agencies to minimise the duplication of services.”
Alliance Leasing, with Mitsubishi Australia’s support, has loaned a Triton to Fortem Australia for 12 months to assist with program delivery.
Alliance Leasing CEO Will Hetherington says the partnership is a way they can assist Fortem to achieve its goals of improving the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s law enforcement, national security and first-responder communities.
“Alliance Leasing is committed to looking after people to ensure they are provided the best possible novated leasing experience. We have strong links to Australian Federal and State Government agencies, both through our customer base and also due to our company owners and executives having served in the Australian Defence Force and other public agencies.
“When we heard about Fortem, we jumped into action and thought what could our business do for Fortem. A car was obviously a good match with our connection in the auto industry and financial services. Mitsubishi were also keen to get on board,” Will said.
“We are really energised by Fortem giving support to those people that are often in the frontline but are seldom recognised – those working in national security and intelligence and emergency services all around Australia, both paid and volunteer. They are our unsung heroes and we are very proud to be partnering with an organisation that seeks to support those that do so much for the community.”
Fortem Australia is currently running a pilot program in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne for current serving national security, law enforcement and first responder personnel, and their families.
Alliance Leasing specialises in novated leasing servicing the private and public sector including ACT government employees.
If you need counselling or emergency support, contact Beyond Blue for one-on-one support 24/7 on 1300 22 4636.
Lifeline provides crisis support and suicide prevention services and is contactable on 13 11 14.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000.
Original Article published by Karyn Starmer on The RiotACT.