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Frontline Resilience: Strengthening Disaster Response and Family Wellbeing for First Responders

The webinar will focus on:
  • Highlighting the mental health and resiliency impacts of working on the frontline of a disaster
  • Looking at the social infrastructure of families of first responders and how the people who support them are being supported
  • We will explore what's in place, where the gaps are, and dive into what a model for ongoing support for families should look like.​​​​​​​

Our panellists:

James Maskey (Director of Policy, Fortem Australia)

James is a passionate engagement and advocacy professional, striving to enhance the mental, personal and social wellbeing of the emergency services community. James is also a retired front-line Queensland Police Officer with a service history including General Duties and the Child Protection & Investigation Unit. In 2013, James was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. James remains a tireless advocate of creating mentally healthy workplaces, tackling stigma and improving help-seeking behaviours in the emergency services sector. In doing so, James supports executive and front line leaders in the emergency services sector to drive industry-led and sustained educational, cultural and policy changes that have a tangible impact for those on the ground.

Matt Newlands (
Co-Founder, Educator & Counsellor, Frontline Mental Health)

Matt is a highly experienced and passionate mental health advocate dedicated to helping individuals, executives, and organisations improve their mental health.
Drawing on his ten years of frontline experience as a former police officer, Matt provides counselling and mental health training to those in high-stress roles seeking high-performance outcomes. He also has experience navigating post-traumatic stress and depression following his service, which he uses to support and educate others.
Matt is a Level 2 registered counsellor with the Australian Counselling Association, a national Community Ambassador for RUOK?, a peer training consultation for The Male Hug, and sits on the state's first Suicide Prevention Council as the First Responders representative.

Melanie Yates (Director of Clinical Services, Fortem Australia)

Melanie Yates is a Psychologist and the Director of Clinical Services at Fortem Australia with over 25 years of experience working in mental health sector. She has worked as a clinician and administrator across several settings, including forensic, private mental hospitals, government and not for profit, specialising in the treatment of addictions, complex trauma, and service-related trauma. Melanie’s previous role as Trauma lead for St John of God Hospitals, led to an increased awareness of the limited support and resources available for families of First Responders and a deeper understanding of the impact this work has on the family unit. Her current role at Fortem, leads a team of clinicians who provide psychology and counselling services to first responders and/or their family members to support their wellbeing, resilience, and recovery from mental health challenges.

Sam Monaghan (Station Officer, Fire & Rescue NSW)

Sam is a Station Officer at Crows Nest Fire Station and has been a firefighter with FRNSW since 2010 (14 years). In that time Sam has been a Primary Rescue Operator, and Member of the Urban Search and Rescue Team. Sam also is a Peer Supporter within the FRNSW Wellbeing team. This role involves supporting firefighters after critical incidents, assisting coordination of responses throughout the state and leading education and preventative strategies at a local level .

In 2023, Sam was a member of the Australian Taskforce who deployed to the Türkiye earthquake. Sam's experiences on this taskforce provided him insight into the challenges faced by families of emergency services through disaster as well as understanding effective strategies to support loved ones at home. 
Panel with:

James Maskey (Director of Policy, Fortem Australia)
Matt Newlands (
Co-Founder, Educator & Counsellor​​​​​​​, Frontline Mental Health)
Melanie Yates (Director of Clinical Services, Fortem Australia)
Sam Monaghan (Station Officer, Fire & Rescue NSW)


1 hour, including 15 minute Q&A

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