Through the Medical Research Future Fund, the Australian Government provided
funding to investigate the health impacts of the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires, with
funding provided in two streams – to investigate the physiological impacts of exposure
to bushfire smoke and to examine the mental health impacts. The After the Fires study
was funded as part of this second stream. After the Fires set out to investigate the
impacts of the bushfires on the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s emergency
services personnel involved in the fire response. The study focused on volunteers and
employees working within fire and rescue, rural fire, and state emergency service (SES)
agencies. The study aimed to address key gaps in knowledge about how to foster
resilience and coping, and how to deliver effective support for mental health and
wellbeing to Australian bushfire first responders.
The research was conducted by the same team that undertook the Answering the Call
study on behalf of Beyond Blue in 2017-18. Answering the Call was the first National
Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services. The study
provided the first national baseline measure of the mental health and wellbeing of first
responders. It identified the high risk of exposure to traumatic events in emergency
services, the impacts that cumulative exposure to traumatic events can have over the
course of a career, and the personal, cultural and organisational barriers that stand in
the way of seeking help in a timely way if mental health issues emerge.
After the Fires was conducted by Curtin University in collaboration with Flinders
University, Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA), The University
of Western Australia, Roy Morgan Research, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards
Cooperative Research Centre
Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff (Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia (MESHA)), Professor Stephen Houghton (The University of Western Australia), Jenn Bartlett, Anna Hunt, Professor Sharon Lawn (Flinders University), Wavne Rikkers (The University of Western Australia), Dr David Lawrence (The University of Western Australia), Monica Madzoska
The study was funded by the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund.
Expected Completion Date
After the Fires was conducted by Curtin University in collaboration with Flinders University, Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA), The University of Western Australia, Roy Morgan Research and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.