The Commonwealth has committed almost $5.8 million to mental health initiatives for traumatised police and emergency services personnel, over half of which comes from the proceeds of crime.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the funding would assist “police, fire and ambulance officers, paramedics and volunteers in organisations like the SES” to cope with the stress of their jobs.
“It can take a toll,” Dutton said in a statement.
“They are there 24-7 working to help and keep us as individuals and a community safe. We rely on them. We must do all we can to help them in their jobs, and importantly, to lead happy and healthy lives.”
A new “national centre of excellence” called the Blue Hub would be established by the Police Federation of Australia with $2.5m from the Department of Health. The minister said it would “develop a national framework for mental health care for emergency service first responders” with the funding.
The rest of the money was once confiscated from criminals. Out of that, $1.88m goes to a new organisation to support traumatised police and emergency response workers called Fortem Australia (a Latin word that in this case refers to strength and bravery).
“It has been formed by the co-founders of Soldier On John Bale and Dr Danielle Clout to do for law enforcement and emergency service workers what Soldier On has done for defence personnel,” according to the minister’s statement.
“Fortem will be a specialised, community-based organisation focussed on the health and wellbeing of frontline workers who deal with confronting situations in their daily work-life.”
More of the federal funding is aimed towards police than the other emergency services professions.
The organisation behind the National Police Memorial will receive $750,000 over one year to “educate and build resilience in all law enforcement agencies in the areas of social, emotional and psychological health”.
A further $648,996 was added to the Australian Federal Police budget “for development of new mental health policies and health standards”.