House debates

Monday, 26 October 2020

Statements by Members

Cowper Electorate: Mental Health

1:40 pm

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I would like to update the House on the great wellbeing and mental health support activities Fortem Australia has delivered in my electorate of Cowper. On 12 June this year, this government invested $11.5 million in Fortem Australia and the Black Dog Institute to deliver more support services to our first responders. In just four months, Fortem Australia has set up a shopfront in Port Macquarie and hired an activity officer, Jody Geosits, and delivered eight weeks of free surfing lessons to emergency service workers and their families. They've facilitated two group creative art classes at arthouse industries and delivered a catered family picnic at Flynns Beach on 10 October for World Mental Health Day.

Through these activities, both our government and our communities have given back to the brave first responders defended our community in the black summer bushfires. One participant, Wauchope's Hastings Rural Fire Service volunteer Rebecca Copp, said the four-week surfing program made her feel like she'd made up for the time she missed last summer, fighting the fires. She said:

It also gave me a chance to relax and completely get my mind off anything and everything, and recharge my batteries. It's good to feel supported.

These support services have been well received by emergency service workers in my community, and I thank Fortem Australia for delivering them.