A walk covering 1440 kilometres will raise vital awareness of mental health in the emergency services sector.
Chair of the Emergency Services Foundation and Inspector-General for Emergency Management Tony Pearce was planning to start ‘Tony’s Trek’ on 30 September 2022, a 54-day solo walk. But it has now been postponed until 10 March 2023. To read more go to: https://esf.com.au/tonys-trek/
The walk will begin at the State Control Centre in Melbourne, from where Tony will head to Mallacoota, across the Alpine Range to Wodonga and back to Melbourne.
Throughout the course of the walk, Tony will travel through many areas impacted by the 2019-202 bushfires – recognising the impact that severe fire events such as these can have on emergency services workers and community members alike.
Tony’s Trek aims to raise awareness and support for building collaborative sector-wide mental health led by the Emergency Services Foundation (ESF).
Tony said the walk was inspired by his own experiences in the emergency services sector.
“Over my career, I’ve seen way too many people who have suffered trauma as a result of the work they’ve done in the emergency services sector,” he said.
“Unfortunately, some of those people have taken their own lives, and many of them who haven’t have gone on to suffer significant problems throughout their careers, and many of them well into retirement, and that’s just a terrible shame.”
Tony said that prevention is just as important as treatment.
“It’s important though that we don’t just think about treating people who have actually already suffered an injury. We’ve actually got to start thinking more about the preventative side and actually trying to stop people getting into a situation where they’re so badly affected in the first place.
"That’s why I’m so passionate about the work that the ESF is doing with agencies to help prevent the impacts of mental health injury on our workforce.”
Funds raised from Tony’s Trek will be used to help ESF run two prevention-focused mental health initiatives – a Lived Experience Program and Pilot Residential Wellbeing Program.
“We’re certain that both of these initiatives will have a significant impact and a significant benefit to the 125,000 paid and volunteer staff that we have working in the emergency services sector,” Tony said.
“Too often they come away from their work deeply affected by what they’ve seen and what they do and we need to get on top of that.”