A team of researchers, led by Dr Amanda Taylor from The University of Adelaide, is undertaking the research with funding from The Road Home and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC’s Tactical Research Fund, supported by the Australian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council…. ” It is thanks to The Road Home’s generous donors who make it possible to fund
Young adult fire and emergency service volunteers are in the spotlight thanks to a new research project focussing on their mental health and wellbeing.
A team of researchers, led by Dr Amanda Taylor from The University of Adelaide, is undertaking the research with funding from MESHA and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC’s Tactical Research Fund, supported by the Australian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council.
Using the insights of young fire and emergency service volunteers aged 16 to 25, Dr Taylor plans to co-design an information guide to support their mental health.
“The aim of our project is to identify the short and long-term impacts of potentially traumatising events, as well as promoting good mental health and wellbeing for young adult volunteers in fire and emergency service organisations,” Dr Taylor said.
“We are conducting this research across a number of stages; the first stage is to identify what has already been done in this area by reviewing literature and existing data.
“We will then conduct surveys with young volunteers, looking at mental health, wellbeing and supports they might have accessed, both in response to the recent bushfire season (2019-2020) and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr Taylor will also plan focus groups and interviews with the volunteers and emergency services staff to see what programs are currently in place to support the mental health of this cohort.
Early intervention a key role
“We know that early intervention is recognised as an important approach for preventing and minimising the impact of mental health conditions,” Dr Taylor said.
“Maximising the retention of younger early-career volunteers is also particularly important, given over half of the current volunteer force across many fire and emergency services (ambulance, fire and rescue, state emergency service) is over 55 years of age.
“We hope to develop a framework from the findings of this study can be used by agencies to not only support the wellbeing of young volunteers but also help retain them in the future.”
It is thanks to The Road Home’s generous donors who make it possible to fund vital research like Dr Taylor’s; we look forward to sharing her findings at the end of her study.