The Police Federation of Australia (PFA) is the national body representing the professional and industrial interests of the more than 66,000 Australian police officers, across all state, territory and the federal police jurisdictions.
It is well recognised that police officers face a complex range of mental health risks. Evidence suggests this is due to the challenging work environment and the levels of continued exposure to traumatic events experienced by police officers as they perform their duties. This is why the PFA has such a significant focus on the mental health and wellbeing of its members.
The PFA was a member of the Advisory Committee on Beyond Blue’s national survey “Answering the call” and as a result of the survey embarked on a program of raising awareness to destigmatising the issue of mental health issues amongst members.
Following an initial grant from the Federal Government the PFA developed several projects including the tele movie DARK BLUE, pocket booklets for members “Head Notes” and “A Cop in the Family” as well as the commissioning of the song “Graduation Day” by iconic Australian musician John Schumann. Further information can be on the PFA website: pfa.org.au.
Building off the strong support from members for the projects, the PFA has now partnered with the Police charity, “The National Police Foundation” to build a web portal, specifically focussed on police mental health and wellbeing issues for members. The portal is designed as a single point repository of information (a one stop shop), that will enhance members, their colleagues and family’s literacy around mental health issues, break down the stigma, particularly self-stigma, associated with mental health injuries; and encourage early intervention and help seeking for members who are suffering from mental health illness.
The National Police Foundation in partnership with the PFA plan to launch the web portal later this year.
In conjunction with the web portal the PFA is also working with the Police Association Victoria on the BlueHub project which is aimed at addressing the shortcomings that exist in reliance on currently underfunded internal service provision for mental health injuries.
Link to website: BlueHub
The project, which is in its pilot stage, aims to provide a centralised support centre ‘the BlueHub’, with satellite sites providing a best-practice tailored clinical assessment framework and functions. The clinical assessment function includes a recommended treatment plan and referral recommendations to specially trained practitioners and services across the BlueHub network.
The intention is for the facility to develop and implement a quality assurance framework to ensure that all mental health practitioners aligned to the BlueHub program receive the appropriate ongoing training and support to provide evidence-based treatment to officers. It is noted that a centralised assessment facility developed specifically for police and other emergency services workers would provide officers with the anonymity and privacy that is often lacking in public clinical settings.
The PFA is currently seeking continued funding from the Federal Government for the BlueHub program.