The theme for today’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day is anticipate, prepare and respond to crises and invest now in resilient occupational health and safety.

As we reflect today, we’d like to share some of the great work being done by Phoenix Australia in supporting mental health in communities impacted by crises.

Supporting mental health in bushfire affected communities

Through a combination of staff fundraising, business contributions and our Mutual Benefits Program we provided $100,000 to Phoenix Australia, the largest single donation it’s ever received, to develop resources to support community-based mental health care for people impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires.

Phoenix Australia is the National Centre of Excellence in Posttraumatic Mental Health, internationally recognised for its research, policy and training programs. The team works with individuals, organisations and the community to better understand, prevent and promote recovery from the adverse effects of trauma.

EML’s contribution made it possible for the not-for-profit organisation to develop mental health training and resources for emergency service workers, health providers and community members affected by last year’s devastating fires.

“The combination of COVID-19 restrictions and the scale of the bushfire impact saw a great need for easily accessible, online services,” Alexandra Howard Director, Disaster and Public Health Emergencies at Phoenix Australia said. “We were able to rapidly develop this program and share the resources quickly and widely with people in great need of support, particularly in rural and remote areas.”

Since the online programs were released last year, more than 200 participants have benefited from Psychological First Aid and Trauma Informed Care training.

What some of the participants had to say

“This course was excellent. I think it should be a mandatory part of nurses’ CPD once they are out of uni, etc., and have some experience nursing. I feel this course can be applied to so many situations we face as nurses, not just as first responders but also for our patients and colleagues.” Psychological First Aid course participant 2020.

“Really helpful to have this online rather than have to wait for an in-person course. It also gives more flexibility to break the course up/take breaks on my terms…Liked the mix of video, audio, reading AND the way that you've incorporated reflection and doing practical exercises. I was waiting for ages for this to come into being so a massive thank you. I imagine getting this set up was no easy task.” Trauma-Informed Care course participant 2020.

Ongoing support

Resources were also developed as part of the program of work, including fact sheets (some downloaded as many as 200 times) and articles increasing awareness of the role played by key members of the community (such as teachers and mental health workers) during and after traumatic incidents such as the bushfires.

“We are incredibly proud of the work that we do in supporting Australian communities,” Mark Coyne, Chief Executive EML said. “I’m delighted with the results of our partnership with Phoenix Australia and look forward to us continuing to work together on important and innovative mental health and wellbeing initiatives in the future.”

More information