Funding ripped from Emergency Personnel on the Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast MP Andrew Wallace says Labor’s priorities are “out of whack” as the Albanese Government has ripped funding supporting crucial frontline workers.

The Coalition Government backed in our essential first responders by providing $10 million over two years to charity organisation Fortem Australia, for essential mental health and wellbeing support for those assisting during natural disasters.

But in Labor’s first Budget they have ripped $8 million in funding from the organisation, which means they are unable to open services and outreach programs on the Sunshine Coast and other regional centres.

Labor is ripping money from regional Australia, just like they did with the Building Better Regions Fund and Veteran Wellbeing Centres.

The Federal Member for Fisher is calling on Labor to urgently reverse this funding cut.

“Well, clearly, Labor’s priorities are totally out of whack with community expectations,” Mr Wallace said. “They’re prepared to fund things like the Listing of Trades Hall for Heritage Listing. They’re prepared to fund things like the Climate Warriors. But they’re not prepared to fund the mental health care of our first responders.

“Prime Minister Albanese should hang his head in shame. These are men and women that run to the sight and sounds of trouble where the rest of us civilians are running away. Prime Minister Albanese, restore the $8 million to Fortem and do it today.”

Ripping $8 million in emergency personnel wellbeing and mental health program funding from the recent Budget shows Labor isn’t interested in taking care of the mental health and wellbeing of those front-line personnel who are out there providing emergency support to their communities during a disaster.

The Coalition Government funded Fortem – an experienced organisation – with $10 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of natural disaster responders following their successful delivery of a similar program by competitive tender after the Black Summer Bushfires.

Fortem programs give first responders the tools they need to be healthier, more resilient, and better equipped to cope with the challenges that come with working in natural disaster zones.

Outreach programs were slated for Townsville, Ballina, Albury-Wodonga, Gippsland, Dubbo, Nowra, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Darwin, Launceston, and Perth.

“The Coalition supports our first responders, who perform a vital role in the community, supporting vulnerable people in urgent need, such as during bushfires or floods,” Mr Wallace said.

“First responders work in highly challenging and often dire conditions, they are regularly exposed to  traumatic experiences, face long hours under constant pressure, and are required to make critical decisions with a moment’s notice.

“PTSD is one of the most  prevalent injuries suffered by first responders working in challenging and dangerous situations – ensuring they’re funded for wellbeing programs will help the Sunshine Coast community during disasters.”

Only the Coalition will ensure strong support for our law enforcement agencies and
emergency services personnel to keep Australians safe.