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Support information for staff, their family, and friends

Working for Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) can be a rewarding, challenging and exciting career. Individuals become firefighters to make a difference; to do a job seen as worthwhile and helpful to the community. Firefighters place themselves in hazardous situations to provide support to the community through fighting fires, managing contaminants and other hazards, including exposure to potentially traumatic events.  These events and experiences are often stressful and can involve long or odd hours and this can impact not only firefighters themselves, but also the spouses, family and friends of firefighters. The recent bushfires have been a particularly difficult time for firefighters and the community at large in terms of the duration and severity.

Fire and Rescue NSW are committed to ensuring our firefighters are well prepared and supported in doing their job. We know their loved ones also play an important role and are a primary source of support. This guide provides a few practical suggestions on how to help you support the firefighter in your family, practice self-care for yourself, and ensure the family and friends of our staff know what resources are available.

How can you help the firefighter in your family?

  • Offer support and listen
  • Be there if they need you
  • Spend time with them if you can but keep in mind, they may need their own space
  • Provide reassurance and encourage hope
  • Maintain a normal schedule and regular activities where possible
  • Encourage them to reach out to FRNSW or professional supports if you have concerns

How can you take care of yourself?

  • Don’t take too much on
  • Maintain support networks for yourself - stay connected
  • Take time for yourself to do the things you enjoy
  • Keep a normal schedule and regular activities
  • Access available FRNSW family supports including our Employee Assistance Program and our Chaplains (see contact details below)

Support networks available for staff, their family, and friends

In addition to the supports provided via FRNSW, we are very lucky in Australia to have ready access to a number of free online treatment and information resources that provide best-practice options. These options can provide the first step to professional treatment and care. Please note these services are available for family members of all FRNSW staff not just firefighters.

Employee Assistance Provider
A confidential counselling service for you, your family and your Firefighter, paid for by FRNSW at no cost to you. 1300 360 364

Chaplains
FRNSW have a team of chaplains that can provide support to Firefighters and their families. The principal Chaplains can be contacted on 9265 2736 or 0418 869 280

General Practitioner
Your GP can provide immediate assistance and support and can also refer you to a mental health specialist for treatment through the Medicare Better Access Scheme.

FRNSW Wellbeing Coordinator
Coordinates initial support and response for firefighters (including peer support) following involvement in potentially traumatic and critical incidents. 0448 295 725

Free online treatment and information services

Beyond Blue Provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health. www.beyondblue.org.au

Black Dog Institute Dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating mental illness. www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Mental Health Online Provides comprehensive and effective online services and programs. www.mentalhealthonline.org.au

This Way Up Provides online learning programs, education and research in anxiety, depressive disorders and physical health. www.thiswayup.org.au

Lifeline National charity which provides all Australians experiencing personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. 13 11 14

Mind Spot Provides adults who are experiencing difficulties with anxiety, stress, depression and low mood, both, with assessment and treatments courses. Can also assist in finding local services that can help. www.mindspot.org.au

Headspace Catered uniquely to young people (12-25 years old) who require access to mental health support. www.headspace.org.au

E Couch Self Help Provides free, self-help modules for depression, general/social anxiety and separation/divorce. www.ecouch.anu.edu.au

Suicide Call Back Service A nationwide service that provides 24/7 phone and online counselling to people who are affected by suicide www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au