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Our Focus

Looking after the mental health and wellbeing of our emergency first responders is the core focus of the work of the AFRF. A proactive approach is needed. Prevention is better than cure. Our approach is to reduce the incidence of mental ill health. We help build the resilience and coping skills, the relationships, networks, and the mental fitness that our emergency first responders need to be better equipped to best respond to the challenging circumstances of the first responder role. Through this work our emergency first responders can continue to serve and look after and protect our families and communities.

Build Preparedness and Responsiveness

Residential courses allowing first responders to reconnect, reframe and reset themselves and their peers is a key strategic objective of the AFRF as these have been shown to be an effective means of building and equipping our first responders with the mental fitness they require. The residential program allows our first responders the time and space to build connections, develop support skills, learn effective techniques, undertake reflection and practice these new capabilities. We endeavour to offer fully sponsored retreat programs throughout the year.

FRESHER (First Responder Emergency Services Health and Education Retreat) is a 3 day residential course offered by the AFRF to do just this. Want to know more? Use the following buttons:


1. “It’s free.. what’s the catch”?

There is no catch. The AFRF have been busily sourcing funding to be able to offer the retreat to you for no cost to you. We believe that as emergency first responders you deserve to have access to a retreat that allows you to reconnect, reframe and reset. While volunteers are targeted by the AFRF, all first responders have experiences to share, are capable of enhancing their mental well-being and can accept opportunities for self-improvement. 

2. Will we have to share a room?

No, everyone will have their own room. Rooms will have an ensuite, with a few exceptions. So, it doesn’t matter if you snore! The option to share, in rooms with a capacity for more, is entirely your decision – if we seek to squeeze a few more into the course.

3. What will we be doing?

FRESHER is an opportunity for emergency first responders to spend time together and share stories and experiences with people who understand and know what it’s like to be an emergency first responder. We will provide you with education, strategies and tools to improve and support your overall wellbeing and mental health. It will be a social, friendly weekend with some laughs along the way.

4. Do I need to do anything else after the FRESHER weekend?

Given we will be spending 2 days together, you may want to stay in touch with your the friendly, supportive peers you met on the course – we encourage it – but that’s up to you. We will touch base with you in a month or two to see how things are going but besides that you can choose how and when to use your new tools and strategies to improve your wellbeing. It’s likely though that you will want to share them with you family and friends!

5. Do I need to have a problem or mental health condition to attend the FRESHER?

No! This program is based on evidenced based information that focuses on prevention, being healthy and mentally fit. We know that volunteer emergency first responders struggle at times and that’s normal. Everyone attending the retreat will bring with them their own experiences. We understand and respect that.


The FRESHER Courses may be offered at different locations and various times throughout the year. They are popular and fill quickly, so apply early. A few testimonials here from your peers may allay any concerns you have in joining us.

Applications need to be finalised at least a month before the date of the course – so applicants have certainty about their commitments for work, and can complete and provide further information in preparation for the course. The application process requires you to provide some information about your service as a first responder. We vet the applications – we want a mix of services and new acquaintances. Applicants are then informed of their placement. Some follow up and preparation is then involved.

An NAB Community Grant, the support of ACCOR Mercure Kooindah Waters and the generosity of Rotary (special mention Mittagong-Bowral, Camden and Granville Rotary clubs), Responder Wear and the general community has allowed us to plan and run 4 FRESHER Courses.

We are actively planning our next courses – having recently secured substantial funding from Rotary SESCA, CommBank Flood Grant, Emily’s Wish Foundation and The Knappick Foundation. We will notify you if you register your interest, when we have some dates secured. Thank you to our supporters.


Open for registration:


  • Sylvan Glen: November 2021: Friday 5, to Sunday 7
  • Sylvan Glen: November 2021: Friday 12 to Sunday 14
  • Kooindah Waters Resort, Wyong: June 2022: Friday 17 to Sunday 19
  • Sylvan Glen, Penrose: August 2022: Friday 5 to Sunday 7
  • Kooindah Waters Resort, Wyong: November 2022: Friday 4 to Sunday 6

So check your calendar – can you make it? We hope so – complete an online application form.

If you cannot make these dates then simply register your interest in FRESHER and we will notify you of future events.


Use the links to see information about the venues used to host FRESHER


To apply complete the ONLINE FORM HERE.

Your application must be confirmed – don’t assume you have a booking.

The AFRF has made a financial commitment to schedule and hold FRESHER courses for you. Please, when making a booking, make every effort to attend the course you have booked. If you must withdraw, notify us as early as possible. A late notification may deny a colleague the opportunity to attend. We understand circumstances can arise that prevent attendance.

If you are interested in attending a course but cannot attend any course currently offered then REGISTER YOUR INTEREST HERE . We will contact you via email when another opportunity arises.

Any further questions: contact the AFRF Secretary.