On 27 March 2018, the Senate referred the following terms of reference to the Education and Employment References Committee for inquiry and report by 5 December 2018:
(i) the nature and underlying causes of mental health conditions experienced by first responders, emergency service workers and volunteers;
(ii) research identifying linkages between first responder and emergency service occupations, and the incidence of mental health conditions;
(iii) management of mental health conditions in first responder and emergency services organisations, factors that may impede adequate management of mental health within the workplace and opportunities for improvement, including: i.e. reporting of mental health conditions,
(iv) specialised occupational mental health support and treatment services,
(v) workers’ compensation,
(vi) workplace culture and management practices,
(vii) occupational function and return-to-work arrangements,
(viii)collaboration between first responder and emergency services organisations,
(ix) post-retirement mental health support services, and
(x) resource allocation; and
(xi) any other related matters.
The committee received a considerable volume of evidence directly from first responders, the bulk of it made public. This evidence, given both in writing and verbally at public hearings, gives the committee and the wider community a rare glimpse into the daily realities faced by first responders, people who spend their working lives engaging with confronting situations.