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Building Resilience

The AFRF, through the FRESHER program, is about building mental health resilience in our volunteer emergency first responders. Building the capacity of the community to rebuild after a major incident is often the focus, however we should not forget about the hidden injuries that can surface in those exposed to the trauma, such as haunting memories, feelings of hopelessness, depression, a short temper and other signs that may arise.

Resilience is not just about physically getting back to where you were – it is also about recovering and strengthening the mindset, having a rational perspective, being mindful of yourself and others, allowing time and using personal support networks; being mentally well-equipped and healthy. Emergency service volunteers should be equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to deal with what they may face – not just with the equipment they will use. They also need the skills and training in mental health and wellbeing to deal with the emotional demands of their service and to help under a peer support model to assist others . The AFRF is seeking to offer this service to volunteer first responders.

At our FRESHER retreats we help our volunteer emergency first responders to reconnect (with themselves and their peers), reframe (their experiences and narratives) and reset (learn to use tools, skills and practices) to equip and protect their mental health and wellbeing, and to counterbalance the effects of traumatic events they may experience. FRESHER is very much a structured, skills-based development program. It has been developed by the AFRF taking elements of highly successful programs from overseas and combining these with our experiences in Australia.

Consider building your resilience: strength, adaptability, readiness. Find out more about FRESHER here.

Volunteers, please remember to look after yourself and your peers and know that immediate help and support is available through organisations such as:

LifelineBeyond BlueMental Health Line
13 11141300 22 46361800 011 511

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