Shadow Police Minister, Peter Collier, has urged the Premier and Police Minister to urgently inject essential funds into the not for profit Soldiers and Sirens organisation, a programme that provides vital support for police, other first responders and veterans. Without such funding the organisation will fold.
On the back of news that the government will be injecting much needed additional funds into Western Australia’s struggling health system, Mr Collier said that Soldiers and Sirens has a track record for assisting hundreds of police, first responders and veterans with mental health and associated issues.
“Soldiers & Sirens is managed by people with a diverse range of multi-uniform experience that include police, paramedics and military who intimately understand service-related mental health issues through their direct personal experiences.
“The worthy mission of Soldiers & Sirens has been to change the landscape of uniform mental health in Western Australia and it has definitely achieved this goal over the past three years.
“Since Soldiers & Sirens was established in 2018, it has successfully assisted many hundreds of past and present first responders such as police as well as military personnel with a range of vital services.
“These services include psychological assistance and peer support programs, together with mental health intervention. Being managed by former experienced practising officers, it goes well beyond the realm of traditional support services by tapping into the raw demand at the coalface.
‘These critical services are highly cost effective. For example, for every $100,000 Soldiers & Sirens receives, the organisation is able to provide 100 clients with 10 clinical and 50 counselling sessions.
‘Soldiers & Sirens need an urgent but very modest injection of funds from the State Government to continue their valued work of supporting people in our community who have committed their lives to protecting all of us.
“The State Labor Government is expected to record a massive $5 billion budget surplus and by restoring funding to Soldiers & Sirens they could help to transform the lives of many first responders and military personnel at very little cost,” he said.
Danielle Baldock, founder of the organisation added that ‘Soldiers & Sirens is a vital service in the lives of first responders and military personnel. While we keep asking uniform members to step forward for help, we forget what stops them from doing so.
There is a perception that asking for help will be career limiting, which is why having an external completely independent service is so critical.’
She said, ‘these are people who have experienced horrific trauma. When they tell a civilian mental health professional about their trauma and are met with shock or tears they walk away.
These are the people who are here to protect us, so the last thing they want to do is traumatise others.Which is why that external completely independent service needs to be staffed by people with lived experience of uniform service.’
‘We do not believe transition is the answer. We have proven we can support people in their recovery so they can stay in the jobs they love. We believe in thriving. Soldiers & Sirens is a community of support. Support with understanding.’
A former police officer said, ‘the ‘ethos’ for Soldiers and Sirens is “Helping those that help in an emergency” but it’s also all about helping each other once we are able to. I know of other ex-police in my local area that are in a bad place. I know of serving police in my area that are in a bad place.
If we had the ability to have the Soldiers and Sirens team attend regionally on a bi-annual basis to set up group talks, personal counselling sessions etc we could help save lives.’
Another former police officer said ‘the point of difference and why Soldiers and Sirens are such a VITAL service is that all of their counselling staff and psychologists are ex-Servicemen and women or First Responders.
‘To know you are seeing someone who KNOWS. Someone who is one of your own and has seen what you’ve seen, understands the culture and trauma experienced, knowing you don’t have to explain anything other than actually working through your trauma.’
‘I referred a number of colleagues and friends through the service, in both Defence and Policing and all had very positive feedback.’
‘We need to do better with our treatment of those who protect our communities. We need more, secure funding for Soldiers and Sirens to enable them to expand, not to let them fade away. The fact such a vital service was unable to secure funding is abhorrent.’