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Peer Support Program – prepare to care
Thursday 2 July 2015 – 11:00 AM

Attending a particularly traumatic incident, relationship stress, busy lifestyles and major life events can have a profound impact on our ability to cope effectively and at times, some extra support is needed.

With this in mind, the DFES Wellness Branch has established a suite of support services, one of which is the revitalised Peer Support Program. The program offers appropriate, individualised and confidential support that is easily accessible to all DFES employees, volunteers and their partners/families across Western Australia.
 
Underpinned by a key philosophy of ‘a mate helping a mate’ the program relies on Peer Support Officers to act as a port of call for those in need of support. 
 
Wellness Manager Anneliese Smith said the program is designed to enhance and support the psychological and emotional resilience of the fire and emergency services community.
 
“It achieves this by taking a relatable and individualised approach,” Anneliese said.
 
Wellness Programs Coordinator Charlotte Hunter said that Peer Support Officers undergo initial training and annual refresher training so they can provide helpful, practical and confidential support.
 
“This enables them to act as a point of contact for employees and volunteers, as well as their partners and family members who have requested, or have been identified, as needing assistance. 
 
“They are also able to offer information to their colleagues on how to engage with appropriate health and wellbeing services.”
 
Recruitment of Peer Support Officers took place from October to November 2014 with a call for expressions of interest from employees and volunteers from all service areas across the State. The recruitment process consisted of a variety of components to ensure the right people were selected. Charlotte said the Wellness Branch was very happy with the level of interest from employees and volunteers applying for this program.  
 
A total of 62 people throughout the State and across all services have now been appointed as Peer Support Officers. Details for Peer Support Officers (by region and by service) and other information about the program is available through:
  • station/brigade/group/unit/workplace noticeboards;
  • the DFES Intranet and Volunteer Portal by clicking on the Peer Support Program page (under Wellness); and
  • the Wellness Branch by calling (08) 9395 9874.
Peer Support Officers can be identified by wearing a DFES Peer Support lapel badge.
 
It is envisaged that recruitment will occur on an annual basis.