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First Responder Resilience Program - Port Macquarie

by NSW SESVA | March 23, 2023
First Responder Resilience Program - Port Macquarie

Dear First Responder,

It is my great pleasure to invite you to attend one of the inaugural training sessions for our groundbreaking new First Responder Resilience Program (FRRP), which are being held in your area this April. The training is free, with lunch and refreshments provided.

We know the vital role your organisation plays in emergency response and we’d love you, and your emerging leaders, to join us at one of our upcoming courses:

  • Port Macquarie - Saturday, 29th April 2023

        Location: Panthers Port Macquarie, 1 Bay Street, Port Macquarie

Please register via the QR code or at www.sesvaevents.com/book-online.

Further dates and locations will be listed shortly.

I can guarantee that investing your time in one of these days will give you a tool kit full of valuable skills and learnings, which will positively impact all facets of your life - personal and professional as well as volunteering.

FRRP is Commonwealth Government funded program that offers a new and very different approach to mental health training. It is tailored by frontline leaders, for frontline leaders to fill an important gap in first response safety by providing ‘psychological armoury’ to emergency workers, be they volunteers or service employees.

FRRP came about because our team here at NSW SES Volunteers Association (SESVA), also a not-for-profit, wanted to do something to address the psychological toll that the past four years of bushfires and floods have taken on frontline workers and their communities. To quote leading academic psychiatrist Professor Samuel Harvey: “Emergency workers fill a hugely important role in our society, but unfortunately they are regularly exposed to different types of trauma, from witnessing distressing events to having their own lives in significant danger.”

We partnered with leading mental health workplace consultancy Ordinary Courage, which is headed by AFSM recipients Jim Smith and Mark Dobson, to develop and deliver FRRP. The program aims to give back to those who have given so much, with a vision that no first responder suffers, usually in silence, from mental ill-health in the future. The keys to realising this vision are empowered leadership and the prevention, rather than treatment, of psychological injury.

We’ve probably all seen it - the volunteer who doesn’t laugh as much, who’s still great on the job, but maybe struggling at home. Sometimes, it’s the person who quits the volunteer service that he or she loves. It’s sad and we want to help, but often we don’t know how.

FRRP is not about training you to be ‘amateur psychologists’, rather to become even better leaders, and to nurture our frontline leaders of the future. Our training will empower you to ‘reach in’ when your fellow volunteers are not ‘reaching out’. It will give you - and your emerging leaders - simple, yet effective, tools to connect with people and recognise if someone’s not travelling well so you can manage psychological injury and guide anyone who opts to seek professional help to the appropriate clinicians.

The upcoming sessions include practical workshops, which mimic real life scenarios, and give you the skills to start that often hard conversation about ‘are you ok’. Once you’ve done it a few times, armed with our easy-to-use tool kit, you’ll discover the difficult talks are easier than you may think. The program is delivered by experts who have decades of leadership experience in first response, mental health and volunteering. It is grounded in leading research and developed from programs that are proven to significantly reduce the incidence of mental ill-health, and change the ‘culture of stigma’, in frontline organisations.

A valuable spin-off of FRRP, with its leadership focus and ‘prevent rather than cure’ approach, is the ‘ripple effect’ that the program will create as its benefits flow through and strengthen our communities. After all, caring for community is why we do what we do.

When you take your easy-to-use FRRP tool box back to your teams, we expect you to start using these techniques fairly quickly and feel confident in the process within a few months. And, you won’t be travelling solo - we’ll be with you every step of the way, offering follow up tips, insights and contacts through an equally user-friendly app, which you can download on your smart phone or computer.

Importantly, we know your time is precious and we want you to enjoy the training so we’ve designed FRRP to be fun, friendly and a rare opportunity to connect with fellow first responders away from the stresses of the frontline. To borrow Ordinary Courage’s tagline, you’ll walk away from the day’s training with the ‘strength to connect’. This notion guides all Ordinary Courage leadership training and we feel incredibly fortunate to be able to offer it to you free-of-charge through FRRP.

We do hope you can join us and ask you to please spread the word among current and emerging leaders in your community. If you have any queries, feel free to reach out to Gary Emmerton on mobile 0417 281 294 or email gary@ordinarycourage.com.au

Yours sincerely,

Kim Davis ESM
President, NSW Volunteers Association