Tag Archives: fire

emergency services health

Mental health emergency

World-first research by beyondblue and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC will invite up to 20,000 current and former personnel from 34 police and emergency organisations across Australia to participate in a survey about their mental health and risk of suicide.

As part of the National mental health and wellbeing study of police and emergency services, beyondblue is working closely with employers, personnel and their families on practical strategies to improve the mental health of police and emergency services workers and volunteers.

It is the first time data is being collected on a national scale from police and emergency service organisations. The emergency services health research is being conducted in three phases after qualitative analysis was gathered in phase one last year.

From August 2017, police and emergency service workers will be surveyed about their wellbeing; common mental health conditions; suicide risk; stigma; help-seeking behaviour; and factors supporting, or jeopardising, mental health in the workplace.

The University of Western Australia and Roy Morgan Research are working together on phase two of the emergency services health study, which is expected to conclude in December.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has provided a funding contribution to the study and will support beyondblue’s work.

“The only national statistic we have about the mental health of police and emergency service workers is a devastating one – 110 Australian police and emergency services workers died by suicide between 2010 and 2012,” says beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman.

“Beyondblue’s reputation is based on its use of scientifically sound, evidence-based research from which we build and develop programs to promote a better understanding of depression and anxiety and suicide prevention.”

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC CEO Dr Richard Thornton says the project will provide important information to understand both the number of people affected and the range of issues they face.

“The understanding we gain will be used to design interventions to support them and their families and improve personal, family and agency outcomes,” says Thornton.

In phase one, completed in November last year by Whereto Research, current and former police and emergency service employees, volunteers and family members were interviewed about their experiences of mental health conditions in which participants felt at risk of suicide.

Initial findings suggest:

  • the nature of the stigma associated with mental health conditions differs across police, fire and rescue and ambulance services;
  • although exposure to trauma is seen as an underlying cause for post-traumatic stress disorder, workplace culture and practices also contribute to the prevalence of mental health conditions;
  • working in police and emergency services, particularly for volunteers, can support workers’ mental health.

“In phase three, beyondblue will work alongside police and emergency service organisations to identify strategies to practically address the issues raised by the findings of this research,” says Harman.

These evidence-based strategies will support individuals, improve organisational culture and address systemic concerns that impact on mental health and wellbeing across the sector nationally.

They will be developed in collaboration with a cross-section of the police and emergency services sector including agencies, unions, government departments, individuals and family and community groups around Australia.

This article on emergency services health research was first published by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Read the original article here.

Beneath the surface

CSIRO scientists have revealed how much water lies beneath the surface of the parched Pilbara landscape in a study to help safeguard the resource as mining and agriculture expands in the region and the climate changes.

The $3.5 m Pilbara Water Resource Assessment project found the area’s extreme heat evaporates up to 14 times more water than falls as rain – highlighting the region’s dependence on groundwater.

The work also revealed 8–30 mm of rainfall is required to make the rivers and streams flow, and that the region is getting hotter and drier in some areas and wetter in others.

CSIRO hydrologist and study leader Dr Don McFarlane says researchers now have a framework to study the impacts of mining and better manage local water use.

The mining industry abstracts about 550 gigalitres of water a year in the area and half of that is used for ore processing, dust suppression and consumption.

Beneath the surface
Iron ore being transported by rail in the Pilbara. Credit: CSIRO

One gigalitre is the equivalent of Subiaco Oval, a stadium in Western Australia, filled to the brim. This figure is expected to double by 2042.

“Mine sites are often separate enough from each other not to interact… however current mining and new mines are increasingly below the water table requiring very large volumes to be extracted and there are several areas where multiple mines are interacting with each other,” Dr McFarlane says.

The Pilbara is a land of extremes, suffering through some of the hottest temperatures in the country, while its unpredictable rainfall comes mostly from summer thunderstorms and cyclones.

“It [the study] puts streamflow and recharge volumes into relative perspective,” he says.

“Nine aquifer types were identified and they interact in complex ways with each other and especially with streamflow.”

Beneath the surface
The pipeline that takes water to the West Pilbara Water Supply Scheme. Credit: CSIRO

In addition, the WA Government is investing $40 million to expand irrigated agriculture and enlarge the Pilbara’s grazing industry.

The research, which was funded by industry and government, analysed climate data since 1910, the relationship between rainfall and runoff since 1961 and how that impacts groundwater levels over an area of 300,000 km– an area which is slightly larger than New Zealand.

The researchers say streamflow leaks through riverbeds and is the main source of aquifer replenishment.

According to the three-year study, groundwater-dependent ecosystems expanded and contracted with the weather but the number has remained stable during the past 23 years.

Dr McFarlane says analysis of satellite remote sensing images could play a role in monitoring the future impacts of climate, grazing, fire, feral animals and mining on groundwater-dependent ecosystems and vegetation.

– 

This article was first published by Science Network Western Australia. Read the original article here.