A charity-fundraising group of first responders taking part in the Heart2Heart (H2H) Walk will be make their way into Broken Hill this afternoon, signifying the halfway mark of an arduous 3000km journey by foot to raise awareness around Australia’s 300,000 volunteer and 80,000 salaried first responders’ mental health and wellbeing.
Beginning the trek on July 1 at Lambert Centre of Australia, the walk will finish up on September 28 when the group arrive at Parliament House in Canberra where the group will call for the federal government to get behind recommendations made in response to a 2019 Senate Inquiry titled The People Behind 000: mental health of our first responders.
“Heart2Heart is about getting a better deal on mental health for first responders and their families for every volunteer and salaried or retained officer in Australia,” H2H podcast series producer Matt U’Brien – who joined NSW Police in 1995 and Fire and Rescue NSW in 2006 and is part of the walk – said.
While in Broken Hill, a First Responder Engagement Day (FRED) will be held at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Wellbeing Place (343 Blende St) from 6pm on Saturday, August 12 where a BBQ will also be provided.
H2H will be engaging with NSW emergency services agencies and volunteers, the RFDS, and members of the community, with the aim to support a positive platform for former, serving, and potential first responders (and their families), bringing them together with local communities.
“It’s a chance for all of us to acknowledge the issues that are faced by first responders, and just to get together,” Mr U’Brien says.
After a presentation by H2H, members of attending organisations will be invited to speak, as Mr U’Brien adds that sharing observations and voicing emotions are an important means for first responders to manage their mental health, which can be challenged by extended deployments and shifts, with arising issues sometimes masked by a sense of duty and a love for the job.
To track the H2H Walk live as the convoy enters into town and makes its way to Canberra, visit https://www.heart2heartwalk.org/event