AESM Vol 26, ISSUE 5 2021

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 26 Issue 5 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. Storm season and bushfire season are upon us, in preparation for upcoming disaster season have a look at preparing peer support programs within your organisation. We also look at diversity within the emergency services. Regular columnists Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith with Let's Talk Mental Health and Dr Michael Eburn for all things Emergency Law. Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC shares the stories from cultural burning in Southern Australia. Paramedic Rasa Piggott with her column, 'On the Frontline', a closer look in to the world of paramedicine. Plus so much more, latest events, "In the Spotlight" and Emergency Breaks and our new book review column. Free to subscribe through the website www.ausemergencyservices.com.au

The latest Australian Emergency Services Magazine Vol 26 Issue 5 2021. The latest in emergency services news and events. Storm season and bushfire season are upon us, in preparation for upcoming disaster season have a look at preparing peer support programs within your organisation. We also look at diversity within the emergency services. Regular columnists Associate Professor Erin-Cotter Smith with Let's Talk Mental Health and Dr Michael Eburn for all things Emergency Law. Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC shares the stories from cultural burning in Southern Australia. Paramedic Rasa Piggott with her column, 'On the Frontline', a closer look in to the world of paramedicine. Plus so much more, latest events, "In the Spotlight" and Emergency Breaks and our new book review column. Free to subscribe through the website www.ausemergencyservices.com.au


Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

VOL 26: ISSUE 5, 2021



types when


for disaster :

which one are you?
















Equip yourself to manage and react to

emergencies in resource limited and

high-threat environments with graduate

certificate or graduate diploma study

options from CQUniversity.

Available entirely online, these highly flexible

courses are ideal for paramedics and

first-responders alike to gain the critical skills

needed to assess, plan, prepare and implement

strategies for successful operations and patient

management within a tactical environment.


40+ years distance education experience,

plus access to facilities and support at

more than 20 national locations.


We’re among the best for postgraduate

skills development, starting salary and

full-time employment.

* The Good Universities Guide 2021



CRICOS: 00219C | RTO: 40939

Looking after our mental health is as

important as looking after our physical

health. It’s ok to ask for help if you are

not feeling yourself.

There are some things you can do to feel

better, like staying connected, being active,

talking with family, friends and neighbours

and making a new daily routine.

Information Advice Professional Support

Visit headtohealth.gov.au

If you don’t speak English you can call the

Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.






Supporting First

Responder Families

Celebrating the

second birthday of an

incredible organisation

that places mental

fitness, community and

connection at it’s heart


Preparing Peer

Support Programs

Phoenix Australia and

the importance of peer

support programs. These

programs are one way

that organisations can

help support the mental

health of their members.



Stories of Cultural

Burning in Southern



Access to Emergeny

Services in Remote


To Serve and Protect:

Bringing Diversity to

Emergency Services

An excerpt from

an essay by Trish

Prentice discussing the

importance of diversity in

the emergency services

industry and it’s role

in boostin volunteer



New research-backed

storytelling resources

are helping fire agencies

and land management

departments better

understand cultural



Preparing for Disaster

- There are 4 Types of


Research shows when it

comes to getting ready for

disasters, there are four

types of people. And this

matters, because good

disaster preparedness can

mean a quicker recovery.


Communications are a

necessity for emergency

and non-emergency

support services alike.

APN’s Community-wide

communications services

are enabling indigenous

communities to get

support like never before.



• Editor’s Note


• Recent Events

Thousands join 24hr rowing event for mental health

Drone used for planned burn in the Wimmera

Virtual stair climb raises 200K

The CFA celebrates rural women

• Emergency Law with Dr Michael Eburn

• Let’s Talk Mental Health with A/Prof Erin Cotter- Smith

• On the Frontline - Child Safety

AESM Book Reviews

• In the Spotlight - The Royal Flying Doctor Service

• Emergency Breaks - K’gari (Fraser Island)













Stay connected and up

to date on all the latest

emergency services news

on the website PLUS have

access to the magazine via

our dedicated App on both

Apple IOS and Google

Android platforms


Associate Professor Erin Cotter-Smith

Course Coordinator of the School of

Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan



Dr Michael Eburn - PHD, Barrister

and leading expert in law relating to

emergency management & emergency



An Insight into the World of Paramedicine

with Rasa Piggott, Registered Paramedic,

Nurse and Lecturer in Paramedicine at

Australian Catholic University.


Editorial Content


Advertising Enquiries


Distribution Enquiries



Suite 112, Locked Bag 1




Each edition features a

profile on a person, team,

partnership, squad or unit

to showcase their unique

contribution to the Emergency

Services industry.

Explore local surrounds, or

new places that are only a

short plane trip or drive away,

so you can maximise every

minute of those days when

your name doesn’t appear

next to a call sign on the roster

Scan Me

to download the AESM App



Welcome to the latest edition of the Australian Emergency

Services Magazine. We are proud to be an independent

publication that seeks to acknowledge and promote the

incredible work of the emergency services industry and the

disaster management sector in Australia.

If you are a regular reader you will be aware that we don’t

focus on any one service within the industry, we try to

provide a little bit of something for everyone. After all,

when disaster strikes it isn’t just one emergency service

that responds, it is the community of emergency services

and disaster management that work together to achieve a

common goal. In this same way we also strive to represent

the voices of that community.

With storm season and bushfire season upon us and

Summer just around the corner it is the time to get prepared

in our homes, workplaces and communities. It is going to

be a busy time ahead for first responders and emergency

service personnel. In this issue, Phoenix Australia has

provided some valuable information about their peer

support progams in preparation for disaster season. The

article discusses the importance of these programs within

emergency service organisations and how to implement

them within your organisation. These programs help

personnel access much needed support through difficult


Something new in this edition, we have added a book review

section to the magazine. There are so many incredible

stories from within the sector we just had to create a space

to share some good reads. You will find an excerpt from

Sunny Whitman’s book, “Here Hold My Drink And Watch This –

Tales from the lighter side of paramedicine, adventure and life”.

This looks like a great read, plus every paperback sold will

provide funds for someone in a rural community in Nepal

access to up to a year’s supply of clean and safe drinking


Happy reading, stay safe and well,

Bianca Peterson

Editor in Chief



The Australian Emergency Services Magazine

is a community educational resource

publication and does not promote itself

as a charity or fund raising institution, nor

solicit on behalf of charities and is no way

financially supported by or associated

with any government, union or similar

institution. The Australian Emergency Services

Magazine is an independent publication that

is not associated with any services or similar


Distribution of the publication is Bi-Monthly

and is circulated via a database of interested

parties, including business, subscribers,

advertisers, volunteer organisations,

emergency service sectors, emergency

and disaster management, government,

universities, TAFE and council libraries. A

print and digital magazine is distributed to a

targeted database in each State & Territory.

Every effort is made to ensure that material

presented in the Australian Emergency

Services Magazine was correct at the time of

printing and is published in good faith, no

responsibility or liability will be accepted by

Boothbook Media.

The views and opinions expressed are

not necessarily those of Boothbook

Media and its employees. The content of

any advertising or promotional material

contained within the Australian Emergency

Services Magazine is not necessarily an

endorsement by Boothbook Media.

Published by Boothbook Media

ABN:72 605 987 031




We are always looking for new

and relevant content that

our readers will enjoy. If you

would like to be featured in

the magazine there are many

options. You may have a story

you would like to share, or

perhaps be featured in our “In

the Spotlight” regular column.

Please submit all articles or

expressions of interest to the

Editor for consideration at:



Articles should be no more than

1000 words and be relevant

to the content within the

Australian Emergency Services





This year the event has

expanded again to include

five Western Australian clubs

for the first time. “We expect

there to be some healthy

rivalry between clubs and

states this year in both the

fundraising side and the total

distances that each can row

in the 24-hour period,” said


All locations will be

connected via Zoom and a

livestream will be broadcast

on the 24 Hour Row

Facebook page for everyone

to watch and support and

hopefully to donate.

24 Hour Row founder, Mel Wellings (left) with Olympic rower, Georgie Rowe



There’s just two weeks to go

until the 2021 24 Hour Row

for Mental Fitness supporting

Gotcha4Life. Over 2,000 surf

club members and rowers

Australia-wide are taking part

in this year’s event that was

postponed from August.

In a year where the focus

on mental fitness is more

important than ever, event

organisers are excited to

see the enthusiasm from so

many clubs to participate

and help raise money for

such an important cause.

After the success of the

Avalon Beach 24 Hour Row

over the past three years,

the event has expanded in

2021 despite the pandemic

and extended lockdowns.

Over 40 locations from

Queensland, NSW, Victoria,

South Australia and Western

Australian Surf Life Saving

Clubs and gyms have

registered for the event that

kicks off at midday (AEDST)

Saturday 30 October and

runs until midday Sunday 31


Rowing machines will be

set up at each location and

participants will take turns

rowing for up to one hour

each, keeping the machines

going for the full 24 hour

period. Some of Australia’s

top athletes including

Olympic rower Georgie

Rowe are signed up to take

part alongside well known

figures such as Paul Gallen

and Hugh Jackman, and

participants who have never

been on a rowing machine in

their lives.

Together they will work

through the mental and

physical challenge of rowing

and will raise funds for

Gotcha4Life which delivers

programs to help improve

the mental fitness of all

Australians with the goal

of bringing suicide rates to


The event is the brainchild

of one of the country’s top

surf boat coaches Nathan

Wellings from Avalon Beach

SLSC and his wife Mel who

started the event in 2018

after a tragic spate of youth

suicides in the Northern

Beaches area.

“After such a tough year

we’re so happy that the

24 Hour Row is able to go

ahead and can’t believe

how many additional clubs

are locked in to participate

this year,” said 24 Hour Row

founder Mel Wellings.

“Mental fitness and the

awareness of how to help

friends and family is so

important and we’re glad

that our little event is now

able to help save lives

nation-wide,” she said.

“Our local community was

struggling to come to terms

with the loss of a number

of our young people in

2018 and our team of surf

boat rowers wanted to do

something positive to help.

We set up a couple of rowing

machines at the club and

rostered everyone to row for

an hour each, over 24 hours.

“It was such a great event,

with great support from all

the community, not just our

club members. We even

had the local MP Rob Stokes

jump on a machine and row

for an hour with us. He didn’t

do too bad a time either,”

said Mel Wellings.

The beneficiary charity,

Gotcha4Life takes action

by delivering mental fitness

programs that engage,

educate and empower local

communities. They focus on

early intervention and the

power of prevention through


Surf Life Saving NSW

continues its support of the

expanded event assisting

with promoting the event

through their alliance with


“We love the 24 Hour

Row, now in its fourth

year,” said Gus Worland,

Gotcha4Life’s Founder.

“It’s a great opportunity for

the community to come

together, raise funds to build

mental fitness and have fun

along the way! Our programs

are needed now more

than ever, and funds raised

will allow us to work with

individuals and communities

to reduce instances of poor

mental health and build

stronger connections.”

Worland said.

Every $40 raised allows a

participant to take part in

a life saving Gotcha4Life

mental fitness workshop.

The ripple effect of that one

person being connected and

supported could mean many

more lives are saved.

The event is hoping to raise

$200,000 over the 24 hour










A drone has successfully

established an ecological

planned burn in the

Grampians National Park,

saving time and reducing the

risk to firefighters, as part of a

trial carried out by Forest Fire

Management Victoria (FFMVic)

crews in the Wimmera.

The trial – which involved

FFMVic crews working with

a licensed operator to fly

the drone and drop aerial

incendiaries to establish the

burn – was found to increase

accuracy and save crews time

from navigating the difficult

terrain on foot.

The 3000-hectare ecological

burn, near Halls Gap, was

identified as ideal for the

drone trial due to its thick

vegetation, intersecting

drainage lines and creek

system – which make it difficult

for crews to access.

Every year since 2017,

FFMVic crews carry out the

burn, which aims to create a

patchy mosaic of burnt and

unburnt land to break up

the vegetation, encourage

regeneration and provide

habitat for threatened species,

such as the Heath Mouse and

Southern Brown Bandicoot.

It also promotes the growth of

threatened native grasses and

orchids and helps to control

weeds in the area.

This trial is part of the

Victorian Government’s record

investment of $517 million in

the Victorian Budget 2021/22

to fund FFMVic workers and

ensure access to modern

technology, fire towers and


FFMVic works closely with the

Bureau of Meteorology to

assess weather conditions,

such as humidity, temperature,

and wind speed – and will

only carry out burns when

conditions are suitable.

For the latest information

about when planned burns

are happening near you go to


download the VicEmergency

app or call the VicEmergency

hotline on 1800 226 226.

For drone footage visit: https://



Hundreds of CFA firefighters

capped off an impressive

campaign for the Melbourne

Firefighter Stair Climb as the

month-long initiative came

to an end on Sunday, 10


The annual event kicked off

on 10 September and ran

through to World Mental

Health Day on 10 October;

aiming to raise funds

and awareness for Post-

Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI),

depression and suicide.

This year, participants

raised a total of more than

$200,000, which will be

donated to Lifeline,Fortem

Australia and 000


Participants climbed a total

of more than 4.7 million

steps – some completed it in

their backyard,some at their

local park and some threw

on a weighted vest to mimic

firefighter gear and climbed

a step ladder.

CFA Chief Officer Jason

Heffernan said he is proud of

the significant contribution of

volunteer members across

the state who gave their time

and energy to raise money

for this worthwhile cause.

“Mental health is an

important topic to our

members and they never fail

to step up to the challenge

when there is an opportunity

to raise awareness around

this topic,” he said.

“It is incredibly encouraging

to see the participation of

our members has made

a real difference in raising

funds to combat mental


More than $2.5 million

has been raised across a

variety of charities since the

Melbourne Firefighter Stair

Climb started in 2014.

Event Director and firefighter

Trent Egan thanked all

participants for their

incredible fundraising efforts

during this year’s virtual


“Victorian first responders,

as well as their family and

friends, always put in their

best effort for the Melbourne

Firefighter Stair Climb and

this year was no different,”

he said.

Donations will remain open

over the next month, so

people who wish to chip in

to support mental health

and the great stair climbing

efforts of firefighters across

Victoria can visit


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 6


female volunteers

currently supporting their

communities in operational,

support, and junior


Poolaijelo Fire Brigade

captain Celia Scott said being

female doesn’t hold her back

from doing anything as a CFA


“I don’t see myself as a

female volunteer firefighter,

simply a volunteer firefighter,

she said.

Libby Garoni - 3rd Lieutenant at Gundowring Fire Brigade

“People out here in the

middle of nowhere are

some of the hardest working

people, and without

those types of rural people,

we’d be a bit stuffed.

“CFA is made of these

local women and these

local people, which is why

it’s so important to rural


CFA Chief Executive

Officer Natalie MacDonald

said opportunities like

International Rural Women’s

Day provide a chance

to recognise what rural

women bring to their

communities and to CFA as

an organisation.

Captain of the Poolaijelo Fire Brigade, Celia Scott (4th from the left)


Having grown up in a rural

area, Natalie is only too

aware of how important

rural women are to the

protection and the future of

their communities.

The vital role of women to

their communities, their

brigades, and to CFA as an

organisation was celebrated

as CFA marked International

Rural Women’s Day on 15


Libby Garoni is one of the

thousands of women who

volunteer with CFA to help

her community in Victoria’s

north east.

As a 3rd lieutenant at

Gundowring Fire Brigade and

Deputy Group Officer of the

Bogong Group, Lt. Garoni

said she there’s nothing like

living in a rural area.

“I’m from north east

Victoria and while I lived in

Melbourne for a while, I’m

a country girl at heart,” she


“I’ve been a CFA member

for more than 20 years, and

actually joined when a local

member came round to

ask my husband to join. I’ve

always been a bit of a do-er

and always been part

of community organisations,

so I told him I’d sign up as


“I certainly wasn’t the

first female member of

Gundowring Brigade but

when I first started, there

weren’t a lot of women in the

roles that I’ve taken on.

“I think when people see

women out there having

a go, they’re much more

likely to get out and be part

of it, and there are a lot

more young women joining

nowadays which is fantastic.”

The number of women

in CFA’s ranks has been

increasing over many

years, with 12,622

“CFA’s women are great

role models showcasing the

strength, determination,

diversity of skill and

adaptability of women to the

whole Victorian community

and beyond.

“We are committed to

providing a welcoming,

inclusive and safe place to

volunteer and work, and

want to continue to attract

and retain members of

diverse backgrounds and

experiences that reflect our










www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 8









Australian Road

Rules and

emergency vehicles

From the Archive - July 27th, 2012

I have been asked again about the application of the road rules when driving

an emergency vehicle. My correspondent wrote:



Leading expert in Law

relating to Emergency

Management & Emergency


The Emergency Law blog is closed

and is now an archive. You can

still access this archive at:


I work for NSW ambulance service as a paramedic. I have been in the job for just

short of ten years. Recent events have prompted me to investigate the legalities of

rules regulating ambulances responding ‘lights and sirens’ in NSW.As is the nature

of our job, we are given jobs that are categorized R1(hot)(lights and sirens allowed)

to R2- R7 (cold). I’ve been trying to track down information that clearly sets out rules

applying to responding ‘lights and sirens’. The concern I have is many times jobs

are categorized R1 when it is not necessary hence giving the driver the authority

to disobey the RTA road rules, driving above the speed limit hence endangering

the other road users on the road. I spoke to our oh&s rep who said “there is no

legislation that entitles an ambulance to disobey the RTA road rules.. It’s just police

turn a blind eye”. I have consulted management on the issue and they say we must

respond in a manner that gets us to the job in a reasonable time. I have looked

up our Operating procedures SOP and it basically says all care must be taken ..

There appears to be no clear legislation hence making it hard to make an informed

judgement on appropriate behavior in this regard.

Do you have any clear information on this ?

I confess to being amazed that someone can still say ‘there is no legislation

that entitles an ambulance to disobey the RTA road rules.. It’s just police turn a

blind eye’. That is simply wrong. Australia now has national road rules so the

principles, if not the fine details, are the same. In New South Wales the rules

are in the Road Rules 2008 (NSW), (now Road Rules 2014). Rule 306 says:

A provision of these Rules does not apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle


(a) in the circumstances:

• the driver is taking reasonable care, and

• it is reasonable that the rule should not apply, and

(b) if the vehicle is a motor vehicle that is moving-the vehicle is displaying a

blue or red flashing light or sounding an alarm.

All the jurisdictions have this rule, what varies is how they define what is an

emergency vehicle (and see the extensive discussion under the post about

mines rescue, https://emergencylaw.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/597/, about

what is or is not an emergency vehicle in Western Australia).

In NSW an emergency vehicle is defined as:

… any vehicle driven by a person who is:

• an emergency worker, and

• driving the vehicle in the course of his or her duties as an emergency


with Dr Michael Eburn

“emergency worker” means:

• a member of the Ambulance

Service rendering or providing

transport for sick or injured

persons, or

• a member of a fire brigade, rural

fire brigade or the State Emergency

Service providing transport in the

course of an emergency, or

• a person (or a person belong to a

class of persons) approved by the


This is better than trying to define what

is an ambulance by reference to its

design or use and ensures that vehicles

used by the ambulance service, but

not for transporting patients such as

rapid response cars and motorcycles

and command and support vehicles are

’emergency vehicles’.

The rules in the Road Rules 2008 (now

Road Rules 2014) are all the rules of the

road including obligations to obey traffic

lights, keep left, not speed etc. Serious

offences such as dangerous driving are

not in the Road Rules but the Crimes

Act 1900 (NSW) so the exemption does

not apply. The exemption is not an

exemption from civil liability. So how

can we know that it is reasonable that

the rules should not apply?

That’s a question that could be argued

case by case, but by having a system

such as the one described goes a long

way to saying the exemption should

apply to R1 cases but not others. If you

use lights and sirens on an R2 you can

expect a ticket and that you’ll have to

go before a magistrate to try and show

why your conduct was reasonable; if

it’s R1 you could expect the ambulance

service would write to the police

confirming it was an R1 task and the

ticket will be withdrawn. Whether a case

should be classed as R1 is a matter of

policy. I recall being told, when I was in

NSW Ambulance that a ‘call to a person

fallen’ may not sound like much, until

you find they’ve fallen from the third

floor so all 000 calls were ‘urgent duty’.

I don’t know what criteria is now used

for R1 or how you know, before you

get there, whether it’s an appropriate

coding. As the driver you are in charge

of the vehicle so you have to drive in a

way that is safe regardless of the call,

the R1 code can only authorize, not

require you to rely on Rule 306.

Regardless of the call, you have to

take reasonable care, so you have to

take into account a driver approaching

a green light will probably assume

that they have right of way so if you

pull in front of them that’s not taking

reasonable care , you need to stop and

make sure they’ve given way to you

before proceeding. If you do that you

should not get a ticket for running the

red light, and if you do, eg from a red

light camera, you can expect it to be

dropped. Equally you can’t drive so as

put others at unnecessary risk, your

desire to save a life doesn’t warrant

killing or injuring someone else (see



so if you are driving in

a way that would cause a bystander

to say’gee they’re going fast’ or ‘did

you see that ambulance, that was

dangerous’ then you’re not taking

reasonable care.

If you crash the normal rules of civil

liability apply but that’s ok, all vehicles,

including vehicles that don’t need to be

registered such as NSW RFS appliances,

are covered by compulsory third party

insurance schemes. In theory it’s the

personal liability of the driver but in

reality it is not and, unless the driver is

intoxicated, will never be a matter of

personal liability. Any criminal liability,

such as for dangerous driving causing

death, is personal and does fall upon

the driver.

My shorthand answer, not based on

law as such but my catchy summary

is: when authorized to proceed with

lights and sirens (and what authorized

means will vary from state to state and

service to service) you can do whatever

you like, provided you don’t crash – so

drive in a way that makes sure you don’t

crash – don’t drive too fast and don’t

assume others have seen you or are

giving way to you.

See also







This article originally appeared on the

blog Australian Emergency Law (https://

emergencylaw.wordpress.com/) and is reproduced

with the permission of the author.

As a blog post it represents the author’s opinion

based on the law at the time it was written.

The blog, or this article, is not legal advice and

cannot be relied upon to determine any person’s

legal position. How the law applies to any

specific situation or event depends on all the


If you need to determine legal rights and

obligations with respect to any event that has

happened, or some action that is proposed,

you must consult a lawyer for advice based on

the particular circumstances. Trade unions,

professional indemnity insurers and community

legal centres can all be a source for initial legal


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 10


Eliza Blomfield

Courtney Bowd

Amila Kaye

Anita Savic

Alexandra Howard

Preparing Peer Support Programs

for Disaster Season

with insights from Todd Wehr, Director of the Queensland Ambulance

Staff Support Service, Priority One

Alongside the rewards of their work, employees

and volunteers in the emergency services face

unique stressors and mental health challenges.

Routine exposure to potentially traumatic events,

combined with organisational stressors such as shift

work, can take a considerable toll on wellbeing (Lawn et

al., 2020).

The results of a survey conducted by Beyond Blue of

over 21, 000 emergency service members indicate

rates of mental health conditions including anxiety,

depression and probable PTSD are significantly

elevated among Australia’s first responders, compared

to the general community (Beyond Blue Ltd., 2018).

Recently, the impact of major events such as the

2019/20 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic has

highlighted the importance of ensuring accessible,

effective supports are in place to protect the wellbeing

of our emergency workers.

Coordinated peer support programs are one way that

organisations can help support the mental health of

their members. These programs are typically designed

to provide an initial point of contact for individuals

experiencing personal or work-related issues, and

to assist with referral to professional services where


Expert consensus suggests programs that promote

social connection, calming, self- and community

efficacy, a sense of safety and hope can reduce stress

and bolster resilience among those who have been

exposed to potentially traumatic events (Dückers, 2013).

Organisations that seek to introduce or strengthen peer

support offerings for their members can take direction

from well-established and efficacious programs such

as Priority One. Established in 1992, Priority One is a

multilayered peer support program serving over 5000

Queensland Ambulance employees through a network

of approximately 250 peer supporters.

Todd Wehr, the Director of Priority

One, says peer supporters provide

a vital safety net for colleagues

who may be experiencing distress,

and that peer support is a crucial

element of a strong mental health

and wellbeing framework in

emergency services organisations.

Mr Wehr provided some practical

advice around common actions

agencies can take as they seek to

develop and implement a successful

program to support their workforce.

Developing a peer support program.

Building a well-planned, tailored

program takes time and requires

engagement and commitment from

all levels of an organisation. “It is

not enough to select a few peer

supporters and expect a program

will work – you need strong policies

and practices in place before

a program commences”, says

Mr Wehr. Every organisation is

different, and early and ongoing

consultation with employees

and volunteers will help leaders

understand the unique challenges

faced by different areas of their

workforce, and what actions might

be taken to encourage utilisation of

a program that will provide brief,

early, and practical interventions for

individuals experiencing distress.

Selecting peer supporters.

When asked about important

characteristics for peer

supporters to

possess, Mr

Wehr emphasised a capacity for

self-care. Since peer supporters

will likely support their colleagues

through experiences that they have

had themselves, supporters need

to develop awareness of what might

trigger their own psychological

distress; as well as show willingness

to access mental health supports for

themselves and take breaks from

their role as required. Ideally, the

peer support team will have a diverse

membership that is representative of

an agency’s unique workforce. “The

peer support team should include

a range of personalities, too, since

people will choose to share personal

experiences with those who they feel

comfortable with”, says Mr Wehr.

Training peer supporters.

Peer supporters should undergo

comprehensive training (including

ongoing refresher training) in simple

psychological techniques such as

listening skills, as well as peer-based

approaches such as Psychological

First Aid (PFA). PFA is a flexible, simple

approach, endorsed by the World

Health Organisation, that anyone

with the appropriate training can

use to support others who have

experienced trauma. Ideally, peer

support training involves practical,

scenario-based application of

relevant skills, as well as information

about local professional support

services and treatment options. Mr

Wehr says that through training, “We

don’t make peer supporters, we

provide peer supporters

with additional

skills and knowledge to do what they

already do at work – use their lived

experience to support colleagues – in

a safe, supported way.”

Awareness-raising of peer support


To ensure program success, first

responders must be aware of

peer support options within their

organisation, including who is

eligible to utilise the service and

how to access support. Agencies

should clearly communicate that the

personal information of those who

engage with the program will remain

confidential, except in cases where

there is a risk of harm to the worker

seeking support, or to others. Peer

support should not only be offered

following exposure to stressful

incidents, but also form part of

routine health and welfare. Mr Wehr

says that incorporating peer support

into everyday life at work helps

normalise conversations around

mental health and can encourage

service utilisation in times of crisis.

Looking after peer supporters.

In recognition of the demands of

their work, it is important that peer

supporters can access support

and expert advice themselves, Mr

Wehr says. Providing information

on self- and team-care, as well as

regular supervision within programs

promotes cohesion in peer support

teams and provides peer supporters

with an opportunity to address

challenges they may be experiencing.

Peer support programs should also

include reliable access to clinical

services for peer supporters, to

ensure both they and those they are

supporting can obtain professional

help when required.

Evaluation of peer support


A comprehensive program will

include clear goals that are linked

to specific outcomes. Suggested

outcomes include reduced

psychological stress among workers

and perceived program effectiveness,

as well as adjunctive indicators of

program success, such as reduced

absenteeism and staff turnover.

These outcomes should be evaluated

by an external body on a regular

basis, and shape continual program

“Ideally, the peer support team will have a diverse membership that

is representative of an agency’s unique workforce”

improvement. “Some components

of a successful program are hard

to quantify, though”, says Mr Wehr.

“We also get feedback around

improvements in people’s personal

relationships, their sense of trust and

perceived support in the workplace,

and we really value that, too.”

Phoenix Australia has also produced

international guidelines to inform

best practice peer support.

Reducing stigma around accessing


“Management support is critical for

program success”, says Mr Wehr.

Emergency services managers

and supervisors are well-placed

to encourage open conversations

around mental health, and to

affirm the message that service

delivery should not come at the

expense of first responders’ own

wellbeing. Leaders can show the way

by learning about PFA, accessing

psychological support or advice

as needed, listening and acting on

concerns raised by members of their

workforce, and encouraging workers

to access available supports as early

as possible.

How to prepare your workforce.

Help prepare your leaders and

peer supporters for the upcoming

disaster season with free online

Psychological First Aid training.

Supported by funding from the

Australian Government under the

Mental Health Supports for Bushfire

Affected Australians package, Phoenix

Australia is providing Psychological

First Aid training that has been

tailored to Emergency Services

Leaders who supported the 2019/20

Bushfire recovery efforts.

Find out more about PFA and

Trauma-informed Care training for

Emergency Services, and register

your interest here: https://www.



www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 14





As one of Australia’s leading uniform providers, Workwear

Group Uniforms have years of experience servicing

Emergency Service organisations across ambulance,

fire, police and defence. With a long Australian history,

Workwear Group Uniforms has earned a reputation for

creating innovative uniform solutions that provide the

required functionality to perform the wearers’ tasks, without

compromising on style.

To our team, creating uniforms for the frontline is a privilege,

and one we don’t take lightly. We truly understand that a

uniform is more than colours and stripes, for us it is about

the garments providing the functionality the wearer needs.

It is through this sense of responsibility, that Workwear

Group Uniforms continues to be a trusted pair of hands

for organisations such as Fire Rescue NSW, South Australia

Ambulance Service and the Australian Defence Force.

Getting to know the wearer

Our team prides itself on its commitment to safety, and it is

at the core of every program we run. Our in-house resources

are in a constant state of research and development to

ensure we are offering our clients the latest in technology

and innovation. Working with career experts, Workwear

Group Uniforms has established a “Day in the Life” program,

whereby our team members go onsite and work directly

with the uniform wearers. This allows us to see firsthand the

environment the uniform is worn in, and understanding the

physical challenges in which our uniform needs to perform in.

Lead Industrial designer Mark Godoy says “a one-size-fits all

approach does not do the wearer justice. This is why it is so

important that we completely embed ourselves in what they

do day in and day out. Every truck, helicopter or station is

different and we have to take this into consideration for each

frontline service.”

Testing in the field

In addition to running these onsite programs, we work

with our partners to select a number of wearers to trial

new designs before it is rolled out, so we can get unfiltered

feedback from the source; do you feel the uniform design

takes into consideration your modesty needs? When

you perform your role, does the uniform limit you from

performing any operational activities? It is through this

feedback that we can make any final adjustments before we

roll it out to the entire workforce.

Those facing the front line should be confident the clothing

they wear provides the utmost safety that they themselves

deliver to others. The team at Workwear Group Uniforms

would like to thank each and every one of you that put

yourselves on the line, every day.

For more information on Workwear Group Uniforms and

our experience within the Emergency Service sector, please

contact enquiry@workweargroup.com.au

or call 1800 644 517.



At Workwear Group Uniforms we know the best uniforms empower greatness. It becomes

a badge of honour for each and every member. So together the organisation can excel.

That’s why we provide world class end-to-end uniform solutions which make our

customers lives easier. Because we know one size does not fit all.

We develop bespoke designs that enhance our client’s unique brand traits and are tailored

to the specific needs of each workforce. Uniforms that unite teams but differentiate

organisations, that make working for our client’s desirable and their competitors envious.

We dress each and every one of our customers in a Workwear Group uniform so they can

feel confident, perform at their best and find their greatness while doing it.

We are Workwear Group Uniforms and our purpose is to dress the world’s best

organisations for greatness.

Workwear Group Uniforms is a division of Workwear Group, a Wesfarmers business.


To Serve and Protect

Bringing diversity to Australia’s emergency services


Australia has an estimated 250,000

emergency service volunteers. They

are vital to the country’s capability

to respond to emergencies and disasters.

However, their contribution is under


Australia’s volunteer workforce is


Both the number of people involved in

formal volunteering and the number of

hours individuals are dedicating to these

roles have declined in recent years. Time

pressures on families and increasing work

commitments are playing a role, along

with growing individualism and a decline

in altruistic values, according to some. For

emergency service organisations that rely

on volunteers, this is a worrying trend.

These concerns have led to much strategic

thinking about how to boost volunteer

numbers. Emergency service volunteer

ranks have traditionally been filled by

“able-bodied, Anglo-Celtic, heterosexual

men,” with little representation from

Indigenous, culturally diverse or LGBTI

groups. Female volunteer numbers have

also been low, due to perceptions of an

‘old boys’ or ‘military’ culture in emergency

service organisations. Yet these

organisations are coming to see that to

remain viable and, as some would argue,

to operate effectively in their communities,

they will need to attract and retain a more

diversified volunteer pool.

The essay “ To Serve and Protect; Bringing

Diversity to Australia’s Emergency Services”

written by Trish Prentice tells the stories

of volunteers from diverse cultural and

religious backgrounds who have joined the

emergency service volunteer ranks.

It describes why they joined, what

they have gained from the experience

(and the challenges), and how their

organisations and the broader community

have benefited from their service. While

numbers of volunteers from diverse

backgrounds are still small these

individuals are paving the way for broader

institutional change.

This article is an extract from the original

essay. We have included two volunteer

stories however there are many more.

To read the entire essay visit:



Ahmad (Country Fire Authority)

Outside his local halal kebab

shop, Ahmad saw a poster

seeking CFA recruits. He’d

come to Australia from Sri

Lanka as an international

student and was keen to make

‘Australian’ friends, to learn

more about the culture and to

feel more integrated. Being

part of the CFA looked like

fun. The recruitment poster

featured refugees and showed

that anyone was welcome to

join, so in 2017 he signed up.

“I was attracted to the

adrenaline, the lights and

sirens,” he says. “We don’t

have anything like this back

home. I wanted to put back

into the community.”

Four years later, as a member

of the Narre Warren CFA

brigade, Ahmad tries to go to

as many callouts as possible

outside his work hours. The

brigade attends house and

industrial fires, car accidents

and other types of rescues.

Ahmad has fought a number

of bushfires. The 2019

Gippsland fires was a time

he’ll never forget:

I was deployed for five days to

East Gippsland. It was different.

It was scary. We were all anxious

but also ready and prepared

to fight the fire and help the

community. Everyone got

together. There were donations

of food for the firefighters. Local

businesses provided free food.

Everyone helped each other. As

much as that time was difficult

and scary, I think back to it. We

got messages from around the

world. I learned a lot. We went

there and did what we were

supposed to do.

Ahmad says his work as a

volunteer “is awesome for a

graduate, for getting into the

workforce, for learning how

to deal with stakeholders. You

start off learning skills that are

accredited, things like first

aid and firefighting skills, then

you learn a whole lot of soft

skills like communication,

working under pressure,

working in a team. These go

hand in hand with the

technical skills you gain. They

are both things you need in a


Ahmad knows a few other

Muslims in the CFA and a

few other ‘people of colour.’

He says this has been

helpful for drawing others in:

People don’t know if they can

join. They are quieter and

more laid back. They don’t

make the effort to inquire.

When you have people from

different backgrounds it’s

easier for people from those

cultures to approach them

and ask questions. People

have been able to have

conversations with me about

what it’s like.

For Ahmad, having people like

him from different cultural

backgrounds in the brigade

is crucial for the recruitment

process. His brother has even

joined. That’s part of CFA’s

recruitment strategy, he says.

“If you have one family

member join you can draw in

other family members as well.

It helps break down

those barriers.”

Zulfi joined the SES because,

coming from

Afghanistan at war, he was

mindful of what Australia

had given to him. He

wanted to give something in

return. He said to

himself, “Let’s do something

for these people.” So he did.

Four years into his service

Zulfi has been involved

in many emergencies, from

road accidents to fallen

trees. He also fought the

2019 Gippsland fires in

Victoria, and has taken part

in missing person searches.

These memories stay with


I’ve done a lot of missing

person searches. Sometimes

the outcomes are not so

great but when you get a

good outcome it’s fantastic.

I’ve had times when I’ve

found someone and the

family have come and hugged

me. In those times I feel like

I’ve done something for the

country. I’ve helped someone

from here.

Most SES units are not

culturally diverse, but Zulfi’s

in Greater Dandenong is one

of the most diverse in the

state. Its 45 members speak

16 languages. Members use

this cultural capital in their

volunteer recruitment drives,

asking people in their own

language to join the SES.

Zulfi has found that people

in the Afghan community

value this approach. “When

we are speaking in their

language, they ask, ‘How did

you get into that? What do

you do?’ They are interested

in how I am giving back to

the community.” He also says

it creates trust. “If they see

someone like me, they see an

idol, they want to be like me.”

It’s led to others becoming


Yet Zulfi knows there can be

barriers to getting involved.

He found the application

process difficult because

of the language on the

application form. But

the unit helped him. “They

broke down the process

Zulfi (State Emergency Services)

into smaller segments,” he


Zulfi says being part of the

SES has changed his life.

He’s developed new skills —

not least, how to use a

chain saw. He’s expanded his

social group, meeting

a range of people from

different backgrounds, many

of whom have become

friends. But giving back to the

community — “that’s the best

bit for me.”


Emergency service

organisations are grappling

with Australia’s cultural and

religious diversity. Strategic

thinking about how to draw

on this human capital and

how such engagement can

lead to better outcomes in

emergencies is underway.

Yet there has been some

resistance to change.

A program initiated some

years ago highlights some

of these barriers.

In 2000, the Fire and

Emergency Services Authority

of Western Australia (FESA)

decided to host a series

of workshops for staff on

understanding Islam. One

local unit wanted to talk to

new arrivals from Somalia,

Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan

about emergency services

and hazards but were unsure

how to go about it without

being “clumsy.” Unit

members, wanting to build

relationships with Muslim

community leaders to deliver

safety messages, decided

to circulate an expression

of interest to gauge how

many staff might attend

professional development to

improve their understanding

of Islam. The organisers didn’t

expect the backlash. Emails

challenged the need for

the activity, since ‘standard

operating procedures’ (SOPs)

were applied equally to

all people, irrespective of

nationality, race or religious

beliefs.’ Other staff said, “Why

do I need to know anything

about someone’s religious

beliefs? I am saving lives — I

treat everyone the same.”

Another said, “Firefighters

deal with all people equally.

Nationality, race or religious

beliefs do not affect our

SOP’s…all the public we come

into contact with deserve to

be, and in fact are, treated

the same.”

The question of when and

how cultural diversity or

difference might play a

role in emergency service

work is controversial.

Some believe it plays little

role because individuals

are treated equally in an

emergency — preserving

life takes precedence above

all other considerations.

Others believe cultural

considerations should be

taken into account in an

emergency response. One

of these is Jared Taylor,

Executive Director of the

Queensland State

Emergency Service Volunteer

Association and a long

serving Queensland SES


We are all people and all

need to be treated equally

but because of differences in

culture, our diversity and our

individuality, we need to be able

to adapt. We need to be able to

treat our cultures slightly

differently, because they are all


As an example of this, in some

cultures it is not appropriate

for men to be left alone with

women. Whether we agree or

disagree with that is not for us

to determine. But to be able

to reach those parts of our

community we need to have an

understanding of that because

at the end of the day we still

want these people to receive

help and to get on the flood

boat and be evacuated.

There are some communities

that are very focused on their

elderly and their wellbeing.

We need to have systems and

processes in place that allow

us to understand that and to

assist those cultures.

Likewise, language is also

important. We don’t all speak

English. We need to be able

to adapt to differences so we

can provide assistance. We

can’t expect in a time of crisis

for everyone to all of a sudden

speak the same language, that’s

not a reality.

We are all unique, we are all

diverse, we are all individuals,

and in order to reach

individuals we have to adapt



Emergency service

organisations looking to

recruit more religiously or

culturally diverse volunteers

might do best to start with

the cultural capital that

already exists within the


Trish Prentice is a researcher

with a particular interest in

social cohesion and religious

communities. She has worked

in Australia and overseas in

the government, academic and

not-for profit sectors, including

in Cairo, Egypt, working for an

organisation specialising in

Arab-West Understanding and

in Geneva, Switzerland for a

human rights advocacy group.

Trish has managed

research projects in Indonesia,

Singapore and Pakistan and

written on various topics,

including Islamophobia and

Australian values from an

Islamic perspective.

Trish joined the Scanlon

Foundation Research Institute

in 2020.

organisation. If volunteers

know no one else from their

cultural background in the

organisation, it could be a

missed opportunity.

Each volunteer brings social,

educational or professional

networks that could facilitate

broader recruitment. Could

their story be used to

encourage others from a

similar cultural background

to join?

Word of mouth is a powerful

medium. Hearing about an

organisation from a friend,

relative or another social

contact is often perceived

as a “more credible and

trustworthy source of

information” than a brochure

or poster. Current volunteers

may have knowledge or

experience about how to

engage their community. An

“understanding of values,

community structures and…

pathways for communication”

can all be drawn on

to encourage further

volunteering within their


In the face of disasters and

emergencies, communities

need to band together,

then work together towards

recovery. Emergency

Management Victoria says

the emergency management

sector can “lead and

encourage this cohesion,

through embracing diversity

within its own organisations,

openly reaching out to

diverse groups in the

community, delivering

services that meet the needs

of the whole community, and

positively influencing

change more broadly.” By

becoming more inclusive

and diverse, emergency

management organisations

will strengthen their

connection to the

communities they serve.

These volunteers provide

powerful examples of

how individuals from

different backgrounds can

work together. Through

their service, they are not

only making a tangible

contribution to Australia

but paving the way for others

from culturally or religiously

diverse backgrounds to get

involved in emergency service


While emergency service

organisations face genuine

challenges as they seek to

become more representative,

the benefits of tapping into

Australia’s cultural resources

will set them up to meet

Australia’s emergency and

disaster response needs into

the future.

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 20

Lets Talk

Mental Health

with Associate Professor

Erin Cotter-Smith

Stuck somewhere between

surviving and thriving?

Welcome to the world

of languishing!

This is only a short column,

usually about 800 words. But for

this current issue, I kept putting off

writing it. Not because I don’t enjoy

writing – I do, or because I am not

interested in the topic – I am, but

quite simply because I couldn’t be


I’ve been feeling that way quite a bit

lately; binge-watching Ted Lasso,

living in active wear despite hardly

ever being active, and laying in bed

each morning aimlessly scrolling

through social media.

Before COVID, this state of

wellbeing may have been

concerning, but as we continue

to navigate the pandemic, feeling

“blah” has almost become the new

mental health norm. The New York

Times released an article in April

this year discussing this feeling

– not happy, not sad – but


What is languishing?

Coined by sociologist Corey Keyes,

languishing is the often-neglected

middle child of mental health, a nomans-land

between depression and


Keyes suggests that people

most likely to experience major

depression and anxiety disorders

following the pandemic aren’t

the ones experiencing symptoms

today: they’re those of us who

are languishing right now. New

evidence from healthcare workers

in Italy supports this, showing that

those who were languishing in the

spring of 2020 were three times

more likely than their flourishing

peers to be diagnosed with posttraumatic

stress disorder (PTSD).

Part of the problem with

languishing according to Adam

Grant, organisational psychologist

and author of the now viral New

York Times op-ed, is that when

you’re languishing, you might not

notice the dulling of delight or

the dwindling of drive. You don’t

catch yourself slipping slowly into

solitude; you’re indifferent to your


How do we know if we’re


Unlike depression or anxiety

disorder, languishing is a series

of emotions, not a mental health


“Languishing encompasses

distressing feelings of

stagnation, monotony,

and emptiness,” says

psychiatrist Leela R.


I know I’ve certainly felt

most of these emotions

in one capacity or another

throughout the pandemic,

but I also thought that

feeling like this would

be a temporary thing

– but I’ve been

living in Blah-town

for a while now,

with no clear end in


According to


research by Keyes in 2002, about

12% of adults met the criteria

for languishing. We could expect

this number to have increased

dramatically during the pandemic.

One person who understands

languishing acutely is my friend

Jasper. Jasper is a healthcare

worker in the United States. He has

witnessed the devastating impact of

this virus from the frontline, treating

COVID patients, and eventually

becoming one himself. Having

recovered physically from the

effects of the virus, Jasper still finds

himself in what he dubs his “COVID


“Physically, I am doing much better,

but emotionally, I don’t really feel

good or bad. I’m not as motivated or

as present as I used to be, and every

little task is much more draining

than before,” he says.

Then there’s Emma, whose new

normal is alternating between

feelings of fatigue and no

motivation to quick bursts of energy

when starting something new, only

to feel unmotivated again soon


“I’ve found the perfect word to

describe how I am feeling lately,”

she recently shared with me. She

went on to describe how a colleague

had recently been asked how they

were feeling, replying that they were

“languishing”. “And I just thought

YES! That perfectly describes how I

am feeling!” said Emma.

Jasper agrees that languishing is the

perfect way to describe how he has

been feeling.

“I constantly feel like I’m either lazy

or making up excuses, but it’s just

this weird state of nothingness and

knowing that I’m not functioning at

my usual full capacity,” says Jasper.

What can we do about it?

We still have a lot to learn about

what causes languishing and what

we can do about it.

I have been trying to make small but

consistent changes to my life and

taking time to appreciate even the

smallest of wins. I look for projects

that have a realistic chance of being

Associate Professor

Erin Cotter-Smith

PhD, MPH, MClinEpi

Course Coordinator

School of Medical and

Health Sciences

Edith Cowan University

completed, because completion

yields a sense of satisfaction that

directly combats languishing. I also

give myself credit for what I have

achieved – even if it is watching

two seasons of Ted Lasso in one


And as my friend Tiff Cook reminds

me, avoid the self-sabotage. Keep

setting clear, meaningful goals that

drive you forward and give you

hope and energy.

“Setting and achieving meaningful

goals provides us with a sense

that we are making progress, even

when it seems insignificant in the

moment. If those goals and hopes

are dashed, it can produce a whole

host of negative emotions,” says


One meaningful goal can be as

easy as trying to being honest when

someone asks, “How are you?”

Instead of going straight to our

default reply of saying “Great!” try

answering honestly. “Actually, I’m

languishing at the moment.”

How refreshing would that be!

As promised, here is my podcast

recommendation! If you are looking

for some great motivation to shift

you from languishing to flourishing,

check out Tiff Cook’s podcast

“Roll with the punches” on Apple




Celebrating the second birthday

of an incredible organisation

that places mental fitness,

community and connection at

it’s heart

Author: Brooke Turnbull

The date is October 10th, World Mental Health Day, the stage

is set and there’s a frisson of excitement in the air. An energy.

An energy that’s shared by everyone who has dedicated the

last two years to the team. This is no ordinary birthday, this

is a celebration, an anniversary. This is the culmination of

hard work, blood, sweat and tears and a serious amount of

teamwork. This is the second anniversary of the opening of

Fortem Australia, a not-for-profit that supports the mental

health and wellbeing for first responders and their families.

Fortem Australia has a range of wellbeing activities on offer; Cooking Class

Since opening, Fortem Australia have had over 12,000 people

within the emergency services register for the wellbeing

activities on offer. Approximately 280 people have accessed

clinical support services and an overwhelming 93% of

participants have reported an improvement in their mental

health since joining Fortem.

John Bale, Managing Director of Fortem Australia, says “Our

work only serves to highlight the deep need that remains.”

And with first responders still reporting some of the highest

rates of suicide or self-harm per year, that need has never

been stronger.

Children’s Art Class

A recent study, by Charles Sturt University on the mental

health and wellbeing of first responders during the pandemic,

found that the proportion of respondents with severe

depression and anxiety was 10 and 4 times higher than

the general population. Large scale emergency events over

the last two years such as the 2019/2020 bush fires, the

COVID-19 pandemic, and flooding in New South Wales have

added to the emotional load that first responders have dealt

with on top of their usual role and duties. It is no wonder that

these figures from CSU exist.

The mental fitness and wellbeing of personnel within an

industry like the emergency services, is not just an individual

responsibility, but a community effort. One of the driving

forces of mental health that Mr Bale speaks of is “the

powerhouse role that family and social connections play

in wellbeing and mental fitness.” This is one of the biggest

components within the Fortem Australia ethos. Just as these

people who work tirelessly within our communities to keep us

safe and well, we must, in part, also come together to do the

same for them.


Fortem Australia has highlighted not only how traumatic

events impact the first responder, but also their family and

support networks. This is why their family support services

are just as important as their first responder support services.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The Fortem Australia Transition &

Employment Program aims to recognise

those different skills and capabilities

that first responders aquire within the

job and the difficult path of navigating

the end of your first response career.

The first phase of this program will

focus on supporting the transition of

Australian Border Force, Australian

Federal Police and State-based law

enforcement agencies.

Managing Director of Fortem Australia, John Bale, speaking to volunteers at the NSWRFS

The fact that families and support

people of first responders have made

up the over 12,000 people that have

accessed Fortem services since it’s

inception is a testament to just how

powerful it is to ensure that we’re

looking after first responders and their

families in every way possible.

Fortem means “brave” in Latin, and

what a perfect word to sum up the work

that first responders and emergency

service personnel do every day. Bravery

is just par for the course. Running into

the trouble that others would run away

from is half the job of a first responder,

and that can impact a person in

different ways and at different times.

So how can we show up for them?

One of Fortem Australia’s most

successful community initiatives is

the Thank A First Responder Day, with

the first one being held in June 2020.

This day celebrates and acknowledges

the power that a simple word can

do for the people around us, as well

as ourselves. Thank a FIrst Responder

Day magnifies the importance of

community and the impact this has

on keeping our emergency service

workers and first responders feeling

valued. As a community this day gives

us the opportunity to pause, reflect and

feel grateful for their hard work and

dedication. In 2022 the day will fall on

June 8th and will be celebrated on the

second Wednesday in June each year


August 2021 was also a big month for

Fortem Australia, as it saw the launch of

their Transition & Employment Program,

a huge boon for the not-for-profit. As

Fortem’s approach to mental wellbeing

is completely holistic, it makes sense

that an employment and transition

program should be welcomed wholeheartedly

into the fold.

Working within first response and

emergency services ensures that

you are equipped with a different set

of skills. Not just practical ones that

are job specific, but the subtle skills

of communication, negotiation and

the understanding of walking a fine

line of balance in a fraught situation.

The program is run by a highly skilled

team who have already traversed

the career transition path and have

specialised training to help others

navigate the ending of a career in

service. The program is personalised

and supported by Fortem’s wellbeing

activities and clinical support

services. Along with leading Australian

companies across the country, this

intitiative is dedicated to creating jobs,

training, education, upskilling and

volunteering opportunities. Mr Bale

encourages “personnel considering

their future to make contact and we can

work together on your next steps.”

Thanks to Fortem Australia there are

thousands of first responders and

emergency service personnel and their

families who have access to a unique

support system. From the provision of

clinical support, mental health tools,

and managing employment transitions,

Fortem Australia is helping to forge an

industry for the future that is mentally

fit and resilient through the power of

community and connection. Happy 2nd

Birthday Fortem Australia!

To find out more about Fortem

Australia and the support they offer

head to www.fortemaustralia.org.au




P&R Engineering Services Pty Ltd

Engineering Consultants


144 Bray Road LAWTON 4501 QLD

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 26

Find the Cultural burning in southern Australia illustrated booklet and posters at


Stories of cultural burning in

southern Australia

By Nathan Maddock, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

New research-backed storytelling resources are helping

fire agencies and land management departments better

understand cultural burning.

The Cultural burning in southern

Australia illustrated booklet and

poster series – accessible at www.


– amplify

Indigenous people’s perspectives

on cultural burning by sharing six

personal stories of what burning

means. The stories showcase the

diversity of this cultural practice and

the common elements shared across

Australia and are accompanied by

stunning illustrations.

Four of the contributions centre on

burning one’s own Country across

southern Australia, while two stories

reflect on experiences in academic

and government roles that aim to

learn from and support Traditional

Owners and cultural burning. The

stories are shared from members of

the Noongar, Gunditjmara, Palawa,

Ngunnawal, Bundjalung/Woonarua

and Keytej peoples.

Dean Freeman (ACT Parks and

Conservation Service) and Bhiamie

Williamson (Australian National

University) provided cultural oversight

An excerpt of Aunty Carol’s story. For the full story, see the booklet and poster.

An excerpt of Vanessa Cavanagh’s story. For the full story, see the booklet and poster.

in bringing the collection together,

as led by Dr Jessica Weir (Western

Sydney University) with support from

Dr Yasmin Tambiah (WSU), through

the Hazard, culture and Indigenous

communities project. The Aboriginal

artwork featured is by Wiradjuri artist

Lani Balzan, and the story illustrations

are by Nicole Burton from Petroglyph


Dr Adam Leavesley, project end-user

from the ACT Parks and Conservation

Service explained that it is critical for

fire and land management agencies

to continue learning more about

cultural burning.

“As fire and land management

agencies in southern Australia,

we need to continue to build

relationships with Traditional

Owners. These resources will help

a broader range of land managers

with a starting point for learning and

engagement on cultural burning,” Dr

Leavesley said.

“This was the genesis for these

resources to be produced, as we

knew that agency practitioners

wanted and needed more guidance

and knowledge about cultural

burning to partner and engage with

Indigenous groups, but there is a lack

of resources to assist with this.”

Dean Freeman, end-user and

Wiradjuri man explained the pride

Indigenous people feel about cultural

burning, “If I couldn’t be connected

with my past, I don’t think I’d be here

today,” Mr Freeman said. “The feeling

to burn with your family, that’s the

ultimate. That’s how we heal.”

Also included in the booklet are

10 cultural burning principles, coauthored

by the Indigenous authors

involved in the project.

Dr Weir explained that the purpose

of these cultural burning principles

was to provide guidance to a broad

audience unfamiliar with cultural


“These principles help articulate

some of the core matters at hand,

which Aboriginal leaders have been

raising for generations. These voices

can be hard to hear when they are

the minority in the room, and so

different from the dominant culture

of governments and universities.

“We hope the Cultural burning in

southern Australia booklet and

posters will help address this by

providing the opportunity to see

a different viewpoint, to stand in

someone else’s shoes. This is critical

in developing more respectful

relationships between Indigenous

people and non-Indigenous people.

We are all living together on Country.”

Find the Cultural burning in southern

Australia illustrated booklet and

posters at www.bnhcrc.com.au/


You can also read Dr Weir’s blog

about the collaborative process

and value of the resources at www.




Child Safety

This article discusses child abuse and content that

may be distressing for some readers. Please access

the resources at the end of the article as needed.

Written by Rasa Piggott

Lecturer in Paramedicine

Registered Paramedic

Registered Nurse

Working as an emergency paramedic quickly acquaints

one with the misguided but well-meaning question;

“what is the worst thing you’ve ever seen?” Apparently,

the human condition renders us ever curious of trauma and


For many health professionals, this question carries the potential

to conjure memories that we have worked hard to maintain a

psychologically healthy relationship with. These memories are not

the kind that one would necessarily choose to recount outside

of a professional debrief or psychologist’s office. It also seems

unkind to use another human’s story of misery to line the pockets

of what can turn into chest-beating gossip.

Interestingly, this question leans on the outdated idea that

paramedic-led care is trauma-centric. In reality, paramedicled-care

has long since shifted away from its first-aid trauma

and ambulance transport origins. The profession’s modern

societal purpose and scope is actively evolving into a space

of evidence-based primary, acute and emergency healthcare

provision. Modern paramedic-led healthcare is designed

to comprehensively assess and safety-net the community’s

psychosocial, emotional and all-encompassing physical health.

When I contemplate the aforementioned question, my mind

recounts patient interactions that encompass psychosocial

health. Those heart-breaking interfaces with society’s forgotten,

lost, mistreated and/or defeated. Sobering reminders of how

we are all but one circumstance away from hardship. Patient

interactions that have involved recognising and responding to

indicators of child-abuse are heavily weighted in this memory


The World Health Organisation defines child maltreatment as

“the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years

of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional illtreatment,

sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or

other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to

the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context

of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power” (WHO, 2020). In

Australia, subtypes of child abuse and neglect have been clearly

categorised as: physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual

abuse and exposure to family violence.

In 2017 – 2018, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

reported approximately 26,400 children under the age of 12

in Australia (excluding New South Wales) as having one or

more child protection notification substantiated. 59% of these

substantiations comprised emotional abuse.

Historically, paramedic education hasn’t strongly focussed on

recognising and responding to human rights violations, including

child abuse. Today, University curriculums and organisationally

led education are working to address this gap. The Royal

Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

highlighted a national need to improve societal monitoring and

response to child safety concerns. Additional recommendations

handed down by The Commission included the need to empower

individuals to make complaints, as well as increase education and

training on reporting requirements and schemes.

Manifestations of child abuse vary between individuals and

the type of abuse experienced. Physical, behavioural and

developmental symptomology are all potential manifestations

of abuse. Behavioural and developmental symptomology can

be easily overlooked secondary to presentation non-specificity,

ambiguity or assessor cognitive bias. Examples include hyperreactivity,

agitation, passivity, withdrawal, sleeping difficulties,

developmental delays, eating disorders, substance abuse and




Equally as easy to overlook are

psychosomatic or somatisation

symptoms. Following childhood trauma,

somatic symptoms that significantly

interfere with daily functioning and

negatively affect social and emotional

well-being can present. “Somatization

is defined as the presence of a physical

symptom inconsistent with a clear

physical illness” (Cozzi, G., Lucarelli,

A., Borrometi, F. et al 2021). Common

somatisation symptomology secondary

to abuse include abdominal pain,

headaches and general aches and

pains. Children who have experienced

sexual abuse experience higher rates of

somatisation symptomology relative to

children who have not.

Any adult member of the Australian

public who, on reasonable grounds,

suspects that a young person is at risk of

abuse should report it to the designated

authority in their state or territory.

Processes vary between jurisdictions.

Certain cohorts within each Australian

jurisdiction are mandated to report

suspicion of abuse or neglect of a young

person to government authorities.

Paramedics working within Ambulance

Services have privileged access to

people’s lives behind closed doors. This

unique position provides an opportunity

for paramedics to scan for indicators of

child abuse during every young-person

interaction. We need to capitalise on

this unique position and its potential

to benefit child safety by ensuring

paramedics have access to evidencebased,

routine education regarding

child abuse indicators and reporting

systems. Ambulance Service structure

and culture need to ensure, and in fact

encourage paramedics to approach their

role holistically and comprehensively

so that they can adhere to this aspect

of their role. KPIS and internal workings

that reflect a bygone era of Ambulance

Services being a transport service don’t

allow for this. Additionally, working to

streamline referral pathways and clarify

paramedic responsibility surrounding

the reporting of child abuse will help

paramedics to appropriately respond to

child abuse indicators.

Mandatory Reporting Information for

different jurisdictions can be found

here: https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/




If conscious and routine

assessment of child abuse

indicators is not standard

practice, manifestations

of child abuse will

inevitably be overlooked.

Rasa Piggott







When it comes to preparing for disaster

there are 4 distinct types of people.

Which one are you?


Agathe Tiana Randrianarisoa

PhD student and Senior Researcher,

RMIT University

John Richardson

Honorary Fellow, Child and Community

Wellbeing Unit,

Beyond Bushfires Research Program,

The University of Melbourne

First published on The Conversation

Imagine it’s summer in

Australia and a bushfire

is bearing down on your

suburb. Are you the

pragmatic type – you’ve

swapped phone numbers

with the neighbours,

photocopied your ID and

have your emergency

plan at the ready? Or

are you the sentimental

type – you’ve backed up

the family photos but

forgotten to insure the

house, or don’t have an

evacuation plan for the


Our research out today shows when it

comes to getting ready for disasters,

there are four types of people. And

this matters, because good disaster

preparedness doesn’t just help people

during and immediately after a disaster –

it can also mean a quicker recovery.

The research, commissioned by

Australian Red Cross, examined the

experiences of 165 people who lived

through a disaster such as fire and flood

between 2008 and 2019. We identified

a number of steps people wished

they’d taken to prepare for disaster,

such as protecting sentimental items,

planning where the family should meet if

separated and better managing stress.

The Black Summer bushfires, this year’s

New South Wales floods, the storms

around Melbourne and even COVID-19

remind us how disasters can disrupt

people’s lives. Hopefully, examining the

hard-won lessons of those who’ve lived

through the worst life can throw at us

will help individuals and communities

better prepare and recover from these


Our key findings

The survey questions focused on

preparedness actions people took

before a disaster, their experience of a

disaster and recovery.

Participants were 18 years or older and

had experienced a disaster between

January 2008 and January 2019. This

allowed time for people to experience

the challenges and complexity of the

recovery process.

Among our key findings were:

• Feeling prepared leads to a

reduction in stress when dealing

with the recovery process. And the

less people are stressed, the better

their recovery up to ten years after

a disaster.

• Generally, the more people do to

get prepared, the more they feel

prepared. However, one in five

respondents who reported not

feeling prepared had undertaken

actions that should have made

them feel prepared. And 3% said

they were prepared when they

hadn’t undertaken any action,

which mostly comes from the lack

of knowledge of the most efficient

preparedness actions.

• The source of advice matters.

More of those who received

preparedness advice from

Australian Red Cross – either

directly or through its Get Ready

app – had recovered. Those who

had no preparedness training or

received advice from family or

friends were least likely to report

having felt in control during the


3 ways to prepare

Three distinct groups of preparation

actions emerged, which we outline


Protect my personal matters:

• develop strategies to manage stress


• protect or back up items of

sentimental value

• make copies and protect important

documents such as identification

papers, wills, financial documents

• make plans for reunification of

family if separated during an


Build my readiness:

• identify sources of information to

help prepare for and respond to an


• find out what hazards might affect

their home and plan for them

• use preparedness materials such as

bushfire survival plans.

Be pragmatic:

• make a plan for pets/livestock/


• swap phone numbers with


• take out property insurance.

Those who had taken action to prepare

for disaster were asked what other

actions they wished they’d taken.

The top answer was having copies of

important documents, such as ID and

financial papers, that are potentially

complicated to replicate and may be

needed during recovery.

The full range of answers is on the next


Located in Central Queensland

33-35 Dawson Hwy, Biloela


(07) 4992 4193

Automotive & Mechanical Solutions

Providing expert automotive and mechanical servicing and maintenance,

with cost-effective solutions delivered in the fastest possible time frame.

From mining equipment to medium vehicles and mechanical equipment.

We look after it all.





www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 34


Driving Lessons with a difference




0409 007 447 russell@bythebookdriving.com.au Mornington Peninsula, Victoria 3934



Which preparedness type are you?

Our research showed four types

of persona emerged in terms of

preparing for a disaster. Hopefully,

identifying these groups means

preparedness messaging can in future

be customised, based on people’s


Have a look at the graphic below – is

there a type you identify with the


Recovery is complex

Our survey asked if people felt they

had recovered from the disaster.

Importantly, we did not propose a

standard definition of recovery, which

allowed respondents to define their

recovery in their own way. We then

sought to determine how a person’s

disaster preparation affected recovery.

Nearly 18% of respondents said they

had not recovered at the time of the

survey. Surprisingly, 86% of those

said they took action to get prepared

(compared to 76% of those who had

recovered). But those who had not

recovered were more likely to feel their

preparation actions were not enough.

Importantly, 86% also experienced

high levels of stress during the

recovery, compared to 60% who had

already recovered at the time of the


Interestingly, the proportion of

respondents who found the recovery

process slightly stressful, somewhat

stressful or extremely stressful are

comparable (15%, 16% and 16%

respectively). However, four out of ten

respondents reported high levels of

stress during the recovery.

The Conversation/author provided data, CC BY-ND

What’s more, a greater proportion

of those who had not yet recovered

required government assistance after

the disaster (71%), relative to those

who felt they had recovered (38%).

In the group of those not yet

recovered, people earning less

than A$52,000 a year were overrepresented.

Ready for anything

Our research shows being prepared

can help reduce the long-term impacts

of a disaster. The level of disaster

preparedness in the Australian

population is traditionally low, and

so it’s important to demonstrate the

benefits to ensure more people get

ready for emergencies.

Preparedness programs should have

a greater focus on preparing for the

long-term impacts of a disaster. And

these programs should differ based

on people’s characteristics and they

type of preparation support they need,

particularly focusing on those who have

less capacity to prepare and recover

from the disruption of disaster.

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 36

Book Review

There are some incredible books out there about the trials and tribulations,

heartbreak and satisfaction of working within the emergency services sector.

We aim to bring you some great recommendations within each issue. If you

have a book to recommend for our reviews, get in touch.


Tales from the lighter side of paramedicine,

adventure and life

Author: Sunny Whitfield

With a medley of experiences from the earliest days as a student

paramedic, qualified officer, humanitarian health assistant, and high

altitude medical officer, this book has underpinned the story of an

everyday paramedic. Sunny is an accomplished paramedic, academic,

writer and expedition leader.

Whilst thousands of ambulance officers, emergency medical technicians

and paramedics criss-cross their way through communities around the

world to provide support to people, ‘Here Hold My Drink and Watch This’

has captured a rare insight into the real people of paramedicine. Written

from a down to earth perspective, Sunny brings to life the challenging

and confronting work paramedics are faced with on a daily basis yet also

finds some humour and consolation amongst the confusion and chaos.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from “Here Hold My Drink And Watch This

– Tales from the lighter side of paramedicine, adventure and life”.

The rain was so intense on the drive

out that we could only see a few

meters in front of us. Sam was driving

the ambulance and I was attempting

to plot our route, but the debris and

downed powerlines made it rather

challenging. For the last week or so,

a large cyclone had been lashing

the coastal suburbs. Although it had

recently weakened to a rain depression,

the weather was still unpredictable

with high winds and rain, and our

community was directly in its path.

Halfway to scene we were met by a

returning ambulance crew who warned

us of more hazards ahead. Although

there were the occasional breaks in the

downpour, the gusts of wind were so

strong that our ambulance was rocking

as we crawled through the suburbs.

Somehow, through the low visibility and

torrential rain we located our patient.

A young lad was lying in the gutter

drenched. He had evidently crashed his

bike whilst storm chasing, dislocated his

shoulder and was now unable to get up.

Sam manoeuvred the ambulance so the

side sliding door was alongside where

the young lad was currently lying in a

puddle, and I jumped out to retrieve

him. I was drenched in seconds. He

stood with assistance and limped up

the two steps of the ambulance and

into the back. Whilst I assisted him

onto the stretcher, he called out in

pain. I was still standing as Sam began

to slowly retrace our route in when

suddenly he slammed the brakes on so

hard that I was taken off my feet.

My eyes were stinging, and I knew

instantly that the pain medication I

was preparing had splashed my face.

However, even more concerning was

the sudden ache in my butt cheek.

Although I was now in the front cab of

the ambulance resting uncomfortably

on the gear stick awkwardly, Sam failed

to even acknowledge me and seemed


“Hoooollyshiteeeee” was all he could

muster. Turning to face Sam, I followed

his gaze outside and right there in

front of the ambulance was a silent yet

descending twister. Although it had

not “touched down”, it was already

This excerpt was taken with

permission from, “Here Hold My

Drink And Watch This – Tales from

the lighter side of paramedicine,

adventure and life,” a new book

written by an Australian Paramedic

Sunny Whitfield. The book is now

available on Amazon, Booktopia,

Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, and Apple


Each paperback sold will provide

funds for someone in a rural

community in Nepal access to up

to a year’s supply of clean and safe

drinking water, and when nearly

80% of illness in low GDP countries

is related to poor water quality and

inadequate sanitation conditions,

it is a vital first step in improving

community health. We reckon that

is a pretty good reason to show your

support and grab a copy today. Read

a good yarn, support a good cause.


kicking up a large debris field below

it. We watched in awe struck terror

as it descended from the skies. I had

never seen anything so captivating

yet terrifying. It descended lower and

lower and when it hit the ground, the

silence was shattered. The roar was like

nothing I had heard before. Backyard

sheds splintered like match sticks, cars

smashed against trees and branches

and powerlines came crashing down in

showers of sparks.

It was mesmerising and terrifying,

chaotic and unpredictable, and

all we could do was watch in utter

amazement. Sam reached for the radio

but as the twister closed its distance,

I yelled for him to reverse. Sam gave

it a good go, but the ambulance

seemed to be stuck out of fear itself.

Had either of us realised that the gear

stick I was sitting on had been bumped

into neutral it may have helped us



trouble-shoot the problem, but it’s fair

to say our ability to critically analyse

the current situation was somewhat

diminished, if not totally obliterated.

With every useless rev of the engine,

the twister seemed to get closer and

closer, the ambulance started shaking

violently and the roar was deafening.

As we accepted our impeding sudden

demise, the twister seemed to take

pity on us, change its course and move

down the street and out of sight.

The stillness and silence were suddenly

deafening. Sam was gripping the

steering wheel in utter silence; I am

sure his handprint impressions were

permanently left on the steering wheel

that evening. I was the first to exit the

ambulance via the rear sliding door and

I sort of half fell out and half stumbled.

The rain had ceased, and a gust of wind

hit my sweaty face.

“What the hell was that” I said to myself.

“Heeellllllllp” came a cry from a nearby

house now missing its roof. People

were calling for help and being the only

emergency service in the area, we were

like a beacon for people to approach

us. Still shaking, Sam gathered enough

composure to call in a short expletive

riddled sit-rep that triggered an allservice

response to the tornado. Weird

day. When I had gathered my own

composure, I started to go house to

house to check on people. A fire crew

and another ambulance had been in

the local area but missed the twister

by only a few blocks. They arrived and

began assisting in the house to house

search which gave Sam and I a moment

to take stock of the last thirty minutes.

“You OK Batman?” I asked Sam. He had

his hands in his lap and was staring

vacantly into a cane field opposite.

“Ah, yea, um, you, well ah s**t, I’m just

hungry big fella, but geeze,” he offered.

The on-scene commander soon arrived

and instructed us to transport the

same kid we had in the back of the

ambulance (whoops, I had forgotten

about him), into hospital and then log

an incident report and go home. Fine

with me.

Had I known that over fifty hours later

I would still be in the same uniform

with some donated fluoro pink footy

socks without my ambulance and being

rescued by a helicopter with Sam, I

would have just gone straight home

that evening. But hindsight is a curious


Doctors dedicate their lives to

saving lives and make life-or-death

decisions daily, but they’re often so

busy taking care of others that they

neglect to take care of themselves.

Burnout is running rife throughout

healthcare and something needs to

change – fast.

In the new book, The Heart-

Centredness of Medicine (Publicious

Book Publishing $32.99), Dr. Olivia

Ong provides a practical guide to

combatting burnout. As a result of

an accident that left her paralysed

from the waist down, Dr Olivia found

out exactly what it’s like to be on

the other side of the healthcare

system. She spent years as a patient

in hospitals and rehab facilities in

an attempt to regain some of the

capabilities that had been torn away

from her. This experience inspired

her to address the unspoken toll that

doctors bear when they don’t find

the support they need to stay well.

Drawing upon extensive experience

as a pain physician, coach and

speaker, along with Dr Olivia’s own

experience with burnout, The Heart-

Centredness of Medicine shares

the key principles, strategies, and

heart-based tools that professionals

can use to help manage stress and

improve your life.

You can follow Dr Oliva Wong

through the following links:


Facebook - www.facebook.com/


LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/


Book Review




Author: Dr Olivia Ong

Known as the Heart-Centred

Doctor, Melbourne-based

Dr Olivia Ong is a medical

leadership coach, pain physician,

author and speaker.

After a severe car accident in

2008 when she was told she

would never walk again, she

defied the odds and was able to

walk just two years later.

Dr Ong’s global mission is to

help fellow doctors suffering

from emotional and physical

burnout to discover the benefits

of mindful self-compassion and

creative development for both

themselves and their patients

and runs programs helping

doctors transform their lives

from burnout to brilliance.

Through her public and private

practice, Dr Ong empowers

patients with medical and

holistic pain management

treatments to manage chronic

pain, neurological disabilities

and/or rehabilitation so they can

live fulfilling lives. This is her first


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 38

Enabling Access to Emergency Services in

Australia’s Most Isolated Communities

Communications are a necessity for emergency and non-emergency support

services alike. Residents of isolated indigenous communities are some of the

most disadvantaged in receiving adequate access to emergency and government

services. APN’s Community-wide communications services are enabling indigenous

communities to get support like never before.

Indigenous communities in isolated,

remote parts of Australia find

themselves in a unique position.

Disconnected from metropolitan and

regional emergency, government

and public health services, increased

reliance is placed on local community

support to take the place of traditional

emergency services such as police, fire

and ambulance.

In addition, the transition of government

services towards an entirely digital model

necessitates community members have

reliable internet to access government

platforms and assistance.

APN’s solar-powered WiFi and Phone Units provide Emergency Comms, Lighting & Navigational Aids at RFDS landing strips

The absence of telecommunications

infrastructure in these communities, the

lack of fixed phone or internet services

coupled with poor or non-existent

mobile coverage, is a significant barrier

to engaging both local community-based

and national support services.

Australian Private Networks (APN) is

an Australian owned-and-operated

specialist in regional and remote

communications who has been at the

forefront of new advances in remote

community communications for nearly

20 years. Working with local councils and

community stakeholders, APN is often

engaged to design projects which can

secure funding through state and federal

grant programs.

For over a decade, APN has been

developing solutions for connecting

remote indigenous communities. In

2008, the Department of Prime Minister

& Cabinet commissioned APN to design,

develop, install and maintain Remote

Community Telecommunications (RCT)

for Indigenous Communities (formerly

Indigenous Communications Program or

ICP Telephone solutions).

APN designed, constructed, and

installed 301 WiFi telephones in remote

Indigenous Communities across Australia

in 2009, 2010, and 2011. These were

designed and built by APN using its

own engineers and technicians at its

Melbourne facility. They have enabled

communities to access emergency

services like ‘000’ through year-round

WiFi and phone services often for the

first time.

More recently, APN has supplied a similar

solution to the Royal Flying Doctor

Service, which provides remote landing

strips with WiFi and phone services, in

addition to weather information and

external airstrip lighting to assist RFDS

aeromedical staff.

Indoor WiFi receivers installed in homes

and community buildings provide indoor

WiFi coverage, while external WiFi Mesh

repeaters in specially chosen locations

ensure ubiquitous WiFi coverage

outdoors across the Community.

Able to be powered by mains or solar

power, these solutions can be installed

in places without a continuous mains

power supply.

Each indoor WiFi receiver includes a

telephone that allows for extension-toextension

calls within the Community

and calls to external landlines and mobile

phones free of charge.

These phones allow residents instant

access to local police and other

community-based support networks

without physically travelling to the

services’ headquarters to get assistance.

They often include distinct features for

indigenous community requirements,

including access to government websites

(.gov.au) without purchasing data and

content filtering maintained by local


Community WiFi networks can also be set

up to provide free access to local content

servers, so indigenous Communities can

digitise their photos, videos and stories,

to preserve and pass on their tribe’s

history to future generations.

APN provides ongoing training in digital

literacy and service support to these

communities and maintenance and

servicing of their hardware to ensure the

Community can take full advantage of

the solution into the future.

This versatile solution is modular and

scalable, with additional APN backhaul

services able to be added to support

greater bandwidth requirements,

and more repeaters to support new

residences or extend the outdoor WiFi

coverage further.

Organisations can also configure the

community-wide service for other

uses, such as Public Emergency

Communications over large distances

or as a method of providing

communications in case of emergency

to isolated places of interest or road

accident blackspots, where mobile

reception is unavailable.

APN offers a range of solutions to

support emergency services, including

portable services that provide WiFi

connectivity through a satellite

connection anywhere in Australia.

Easily set up using a ground-mount

or fixed to a trailer or vehicle, APN’s

portable service offers remote

connectivity that is transportable

anywhere you need it.

Learn more about APN’s remote

communications solutions on their

website or by contacting their Corporate

Solutions team on (03) 8566 8312 or

emailing corporatesales@apn.net.au.

APN has also been designing, installing

and maintaining Community-wide

WiFi and phone services, including

recent projects jointly funded by State

and Federal Governments through

the Australian Government’s Regional

Connectivity Program (RCP Program).

External repeaters offer outdoor WiFi coverage across the entire community (left), while indoor units provide WiFi service

as well as a fixed telephone service and USB power outlet (right)


In each edition of the Australian Emergency Services Magazine we

feature a profile on a person, team, partnership, squad or unit to

showcase their unique contribution to the emergency services industry.

If you would like to be featured or know someone who deserves some

recognition get in touch with our team.


The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical

organisations globally, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service

to people who live, work, and travel across the 7.69 million square kilometres of Australia.

Australia is a vast and expansive

country, 7.69 million square kilometers

is a lot of space to cover when it comes

to providing services to the population.

For those Australians who live and

work in remote locations, access to

health services is limited and this lack

of access can be life threatening. If

something goes wrong, it can go terribly

wrong and help is a long way away.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of

Australia (RFDS) is the saving grace of

these communities, providing a range

of health services such as telehealth

consultations, a fly-in fly-out GP and

Nurse clinics, and emergency and nonemergency

patient transfers.

The service was established by

Reverend John Flynn who was

commissioned by the Presbyterian

Church to look after the needs of those

in the outback. Reverend John Flynn is

the man on our 20 dollar note and the

note itself tells part of the story of the

Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia.

Reverend Flynn was witness to the

plight of those pioneers in the outback

and bush communities and wanted to

provide them with a “mantle of safety”.

The RFDS was born out of Flynn’s vision,

the story of a stockman, Jimmy Darcy

and an idea from a young Lieutenant,

Clifford Peel.

Lieutenant Peel wrote to Flynn

suggesting aviation could help to

provide services in these remote

locations. Peel was killed in the war the

following year, unaware his idea would

go on to help so many future lives.



Jimmy Darcy was a stockman from the

Kimberley who suffered internal injuries

when he fell during a cattle stampede.

Darcy had to be transported to

Halls Creek which was a long and

uncomfortable 12 hour dray ride away.

Darcy would need surgery, however

that was impossible as the closest

doctor was thousands of miles away.

The postmaster at Halls Creek was

only trained in first aid. Through

communication via morse code he had

to perform surgery on Darcy using a

pen knife under instruction from a Dr

Holland far away in Perth. Incredibly

Jimmy survived the surgery, however

required further care.

Dr Holland made the trip from Perth

to Halls Creek, which took almost two

weeks and many mishaps along the

way. When he finally arrived, Jimmy

Darcy had died only hours earlier.

It was this story that really cemented

the idea and the need for the Royal

Flying Doctor Service in the heart and

mind of Reverend Flynn.

The service was originally called the

AMS (Australian Medical Service) when

it first began experimentally in 1928. It

was renamed the Flying Doctor Service

in 1942 and the term Royal was added

in 1955.

Since it’s small but strong beginning

with only one plane, the RFDS has

grown to be one of the largest and

most comprehensive aeromedical

organisation in the world.

Today the RFDS has a fleet of 79 aircraft

with 23 air bases throughout the

country. Over the last year they have

had a total of 337,686 patient contacts

made through RFDS clinics, aeromedical

transports and telehealth consultations

and have flown a total of 28,953,688

km’s just in a year!

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a

completely unique emergency service

catering for a completely unique set

of needs in remote communities.

The RFDS are supported by the

Commonwealth, State and Territory

governments, however they are a notfor-profit

who rely heavily on donations

and support from the community in

order to maintain their service and be

able to purchase the latest in medical


If you would like to support this

incredible organisation you can head

to the website for more information.

You can also listen to the Royal Flying

Doctor Service Podcast for more

incredible stories.






4260 9464 0410 532 649

9 Hamilton St, Dapto NSW 2530

www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 42




Words: Brooke Turnbull



Essential travel used to have a

completely different meaning than what

it does today. Pre-pandemic, essential

travel was the type of travel that you

had on your bucket list. Well, with the

country on the verge of opening up, we

think it’s about time we went back to this

original meaning.

Travel is essential for new life

experiences, it’s essential for mental

health reasons and it’s essential for

connection, both to country and to

people. Haven’t we all missed it!

This month we’re heading to an

incredible island destination in

Queensland; K’gari.

K’gari is the traditional name for Fraser

Island and is pronounced ‘gurri’. The

name very aptly means paradise as told

in a beautiful Dreamtime story by the

traditional custodians, the Butchulla


Whether you’re a luxury traveller or like

the more adventurous side of life, K’gari

will have you wishing you had longer to

explore, no matter how long you booked


Famous shipwreck,

the S.S. Maheno beached

near The Pinnacles.


K’gari is located about 3 hours north of

Brisbane. While difficult to travel there

without a car (so if you’re coming from

interstate we recommend a 4WD hire)

there are plenty of companies that offer

tours to the island from Brisbane if you’re

flying into the city. Otherwise, the drive

through the Sunshine Coast region is an

adventure in itself if you have a car or are

a local traveller. At 123kilometres long

and 22 kilometres wide, it’s Queensland’s

largest island and also takes out the title

of the largest sand island in the world.

Given that it’s made up entirely of sand

and the fact that it’s situated at the base

of the Great Barrier Reef, you can pretty

much ensure that there are plenty of

warm, inviting beaches to explore.

Places to Stay:

Of course we are going to give you the

usual three options however this time

around it comes with a bit of a twist.

While, yes, the luxury accommodation is

sublime, the budget version we’re going

to provide you with is a little bit…off the

beaten track.

Our luxury pick is the Kingfisher Bay

Resort. While K’gari might be the

world’s largest sand island, the resort

accommodation is split up into two main

resorts. Kingfisher is one of the two and

delivers on it’s luxury promise perfectly.

With four swimming pools, a variety of

accommodation options including selfcontained

villas and hotel rooms, as well

as three restaurants to truly explore the

delicacies of Australian cuisine, Kingfisher

Bay Resort has got it all.

It’s suitable for a couples getaway as

well as a family holiday, and, as a bonus,

if you aren’t 4-wheel driving on the

island, Kingfisher Bay Resort is where

many of the tour companies provide

accommodation for their overnight stays.

Starting at $229 per night in low season

with an option of a buffet breakfast for

a few bucks, Kingfisher Bay Resort is a

great luxury pick.

The incredible white sands and clear water of Lake Mackenzie - perfect for a paddleboard.

for studio apartments all the way up to

two bedrooms, so once again a great

option for a family holiday, but book early

for school holidays, Eurong is a popular

place to land on Fraser and with rooms

starting from $149 in low season it’s not

hard to see why.

Now, last but not least is our budget

option. This one is aimed specifically

at those of you who are self-driving

to the island and are looking for a bit

of adventure. It’s no secret that K’gari

has an abundance of stunning places

to stay and the majority of them are

purely for campers. It costs around

$6.50 per person, per night through the

Queensland National Parks website and

there are hundreds of different places

for you to set up.

You can stay inland at Central Station

near to the crystal clear creek that runs

centrally through the camp, or, if you

prefer the sound of the ocean with

your BBQ dinner then beach camping

is for you. Plan in advance to get the

best spots and book before everyone.

We recommend the Great Sandy Cape

at the top of the island. Away from the

wind and blustery surf conditions, if

you’re travelling in Spring or Summer,

the beach camping on the top of the

island really makes you feel as if you’re

4 Wheel Driving and catching the sunset on the largest sand island in the world.

Our mid-range accommodation option is

situated at the lower end of the island in

Eurong Beach Resort which is perfectly

positioned right on 75 Mile Beach. Again,

many tour operators choose Eurong as

an overnight accommodation provider

for their tours, so even if you’re not selfdriving

it’s the perfect place to kick off

your stay.

Eurong has two swimming pools, tennis

courts and BBQ facilities. Not to mention

is the best place to get a pie in the whole

of the Fraser Coast. There are options

staying on a proper tropical island. The fact that there aren’t

a huge amount of camp sites here is perfect too, because

it means lots of privacy to just enjoy the surrounds. Awinya

Creek is our second option, and if you’re staying on the island

for a few nights (which you most definitely should) then we

recommend heading to the Sandy Cape for a night or two

and then popping over to Awinya Creek for the next couple of

nights to really soak up the adventure life. Awinya is situated

on the western side of the island, and while the sand is softer

here and you definitely need to keep an eye on those tides,

once you hit your campsite it will have been well worth the

travel. Hot tip: A sunset over the water on the western side of

the island is like no other sunset you’ve seen.

Things to Do:

Kingfisher Bay Resort for that luxury 5 star experience - Image Facebook

So, you’ve organised your accommodation and you’ve

decided whether you’re going to drive yourself, (either with

your own 4WD vehicle or through hiring on the mainland) or

if you’re going to take the option of a tour company. Now, all

that’s left to decide is what to do. If you’ve purchased a tour

for a few days then this section is probably not for you. The

best part of tours is that the itinerary is set out for you, so all

you have to do is relax and enjoy. The biggest decision you’ll

most likely make is what delicious menu item you’re going to

pick for lunch and dinner.

Self-driving is a bit different, with so much to explore on the

island, you can set your own itinerary. Check the tides in

advance in order to plan when you need to travel through to

different parts of the island. This is the best tip we can give,

especially if you’re travelling from interstate and don’t have

much time, you want to maximise the time you do have.

4-wheel driving itself is one of the best things to do on

the island. With so many tracks and off-road avenues to

adventure onto, as well as beach driving (not to mention,

pulling up on the beach for a spot of lunch and to throw a

line in) 4WDing on K’gari is the number one activity for locals

and tourists alike. The best part about this is even if you’re

just travelling to get somewhere, you’ll still do plenty of the

adventure track touring just by driving to your destination.

Fraser Island has more than 100 lakes, so there are plenty of

them to take a dip in, and too many for us to tell you about

here. So we’ll hit the highlights.

Lake McKenzie is world famous for its crystal clear water,

made up of thousands of years of sand sediment settling on

the lake floor, it’s literally just a giant, beautiful puddle of rain

See K’gari from a different point of view - Scenic flight with Air Fraser - Image Facebook



water. So pure is the water in Lake McKenzie that not much

can live in it, which means even when it hits the dark part of

the water there’s nothing to be scared of, so you can let your

feet dangle off the side of your paddle board as you explore

the lake. Lake Wabby (disappearing due to its neighbouring

sandblow that’s slowly closing in on the lake, this one is one

not to be missed), Basin Lake (a black water perched lake)

and Lake Boomanjin (which is the world’s largest perched

lake at 190 hectares!). In addition to the lakes, there’s also the

creeks. Eli Creek is largest creek on the island with 166 million

litres of water per day flowing out to sea. It’s surface is so

clear that upon initial inspection it actually looks muddy, but

that’s just the sand colour beneath!

The Champagne Pools are a natural site also not to be

missed. Head up there (they’re at the top of the island) on low

tide for a stunning view and calm waters. There’s plenty of

marine life surrounding the island, but the Champagne Pools

and Indian Head, just next door, are the best places to see it.

Depending on what time of year you’re heading to the island

you’ll see a variety of sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles and

other sea mammals.

Finally, for something exceptional and just a little bit touristy,

book yourself a scenic flight of the island. Air Fraser Island

runs beach take offs and landings, and will give you a view of

the island that no one else gets to see, the one from the top.

With it’s peaks and valleys, colours of the sea where it meets

the sand and the colours of the sand where it meets the cliff

sides, a scenic flight is one of the best ways to see the island

in it’s entirety in just a few short minutes. If you’re running low

on time, this is highly recommended.

The walkway to Champagne Pools, located at the top of the island.

So now we’ve got your drooling over Fraser Island, and now

that essential travel has its old meaning back, ditch the toilet

paper fight and get amongst it. We can’t wait to see you there.

NB: We would be remiss if we didn’t give you a heads up

of the dangers of the island. In addition to washouts on

the beach that can be life threatening to inexperienced

4-wheel drivers, there’s also the fact that swimming

on the main beach along 75 Mile Beach is highly not

recommended due to huge waves, hidden rips and

massive tides. Then there’s the infamous dingoes, if

you’re heading to Fraser Island keep away from dingoes,

never feed them and pick up some information on the

mainland about the dangers before you go. Head there

to have fun, but make sure it’s safe.

Dingoes are infamous on K’gari, take precautions and don’t feed them.





03 5874 5203

37 Main St, Strathmerton VIC 3641


www.ausemergencyservices.com.au 46

a simple

bowel test

could save



The home test kit sent in the

mail to 50–74 year olds is free,

easy to do and can detect early

signs of bowel cancer.

Sometimes bowel cancer doesn’t have any symptoms—

that’s why doing the test is so important. When detected

early 90% of bowel cancers can be successfully treated.

So don’t underestimate the power of your poo,

it could save your life.

www.health.gov.au/nbcsp | 1800 627 701

For information in your language,

phone the Translating and Interpreting Service: 13 14 50

or visit www.health.gov.au/nbcsp-translations



We’re always there to help.

Let’s make sure we help each other and ask R U OK?


Fixed or Portable

Internet for

Emergency Services

Activ8me Business Services offers remote

communications solutions for Emergency

Services’ Crews & Facilities in regional and

remote Australia.

Solutions Available:

Unlimited data plans

Low contention rates

Ground or Vehicle-mounted hardware

Bespoke Design Options

Optional P2P, Extended Wi-Fi or Community Wi-Fi

Installation & Field Support Australia-wide

Our solutions overcome the limitations of

integrating data-hungry platforms, large

upload requirements and immediate, unplanned

deployment requirements of emergency services’

crews operating in isolated locations.

Our services facilitate fixed or portable businessgrade

internet connections anywhere in Australia.

For enquiries contact our Corporate Sales team

or visit: business.activ8me.net.au

Business Services

Contact Us

13 22 88

Major Partner

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!