Strategic advice for developing the National Plan for the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Emergency Services Workers
National Recovery and Resilience Agency
The national plan for the mental health and wellbeing of emergency services workers is a recommendation of the Senate Enquiry titled The People Behind 000: Mental Health of Our First Responders. Research published in 2021, based on Australian emergency services organisations, noted there were ‘higher rates of suicidal thoughts and plans than the general Australian adult population but not attempts’. This research concluded that mental health services should be accessible and promoted so emergency services workers can be supported.
In response, the first mental health national plan for emergency services workers is being developed through a consultative and collaborative process and will seek to reduce the rates of suicide and mental ill health among emergency service workers. The national plan development has considered a range of issues faced by paid, volunteer, as well as former and retired workers.
ARTD was contracted to synthesise a large amount of evidence and conduct stakeholder consultations to develop the Plan, and to design and deliver the plan’s theory of change, program logic and monitoring, evaluation and learning framework.
Drawing on the extensive body of consultative work undertaken to date, ARTD designed a program logic and theory of change. This work helped to synthesise the many and diverse contributions of a range of stakeholders. The program logic and theory of change has provided a backbone for the development of the plan.
ARTD facilitated stakeholder workshops with a reference group chaired by the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, formerly the Mental Health Policy Taskforce, Emergency Management Australia in the Department of Home Affairs to provide further clarity for the development of the national plan. The reference group included membership from a range of organisations with an interest and expertise in mental health, work practices and emergency management based across state and territory government departments and the community managed sector. These workshops enabled stakeholders to come to a shared understanding of the reach and scope of the national plan. The program logic highlighted a range of priorities and actions to address identified policy problems.
The workshops and resulting program logic and theory of change have helped to inform the development of the Plan.