Family Matters


  • There is widespread recognition that families of ES workers are key to their wellbeing and operational sustainability.
  • It is challenging to reach families with information and support services.
  • ESF’s studies point to a lack of support, connection and mental health resources and education for families of ES workers.
  • Low mental health literacy and stigma inhibits early help seeking.
  • Families of ES workers have a role to play in helping people deal with work stress and demands.

ESFs approach to developing a Family Matters strategy is informed by the following studies:


Family Matters Strategy

There is widespread recognition that families of emergency service workers are key to their wellbeing and operational sustainability. Over recent years ESF has undertaken various studies to understand more fully how families can be best supported. A gap was revealed in relation to the provision of information about wellbeing and support services to families and widespread challenges in reaching families. The studies also showed that families want access to education and resources, as well as the ability to connect and acknowledgement.

The studies undertaken by ESF include:

ESF has used this information to inform the development of a new Family Matters strategy. The strategy has four pillars.

Pillar one awareness
  • To acknowledge the important role of families in supporting ES workers and therefore the sustainability of our emergency management operating model.
  • To improve reach to families of ES workers.
Pillar two connection
  • To create the opportunity for connection so family members don’t feel isolated.
Pillar three education
  • To enable and empower family members to be effective wellbeing support crew for their ES worker.
Pillar four operations
  • To help reduce the impact of operational activity on families.

The Families Guide is a resource developed with funding from Emergency Management Victoria for families of Victorian Emergency Service volunteers.

“This resource is a great introduction to all families of Emergency Services workers. I wish I had had this so I could identify the changes in my husband before he got to his worst. I encourage all partners to read and learn about the Mental Health concerns of this line of work and begin to monitor your partner. You’ll see it before they do!”Courtney Daly, partner of an emergency service worker.

“The value of support from the families of effective emergency service people is immeasurable, particularly in the instance of volunteers. This guide provides solid information to assist the volunteering family. I am very thankful for the support of my own family, and that extends to all the families of the wonderful volunteers I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. These volunteer families work hard to keep communities safe and connected. Well done to you all.”Andrew Perry, Fire fighter and former Captain Yarck Rural Fire Brigade.


ESF acknowledges the support of the Victoria State Government in the development of the Families Guide.