FESA’s new Welfare Department and You

The following is from Wayne Gregson, FESA CEO, and describes how the oganisation’s new welfare department can help the volunteers.

14 February 2012
FESA General Circular No: 20/2012


During my visits to volunteer and career stations I am often asked about what
FESA can do to support volunteers and staff who are undergoing personal
hardship and emotional pain.

The welfare and safety of FESA and Local Government volunteers, staff and
their families is an issue that I take very seriously and I have discussed this
with the FESA Chaplain, Ron Wingate on how we can better inform the ‘FESA
Family’ on what services are available to provide the necessary support and

FESA’s welfare team, which is available to assist volunteers and staff, has
recently been expanded with a new officer Leon Fernandes who works
alongside Rob Kingma and the Welfare Coordinator Anneliese Smith.
Together, with Chaplain Ron Wingate the team can offer a wide range of
different services.

The team’s philosophy is focused on proactive prevention, building resilience
and caring and responding to an individual’s situation that has affected their

Following the recent Margaret River fires the team was activated to support
volunteers and staff and they conducted group workshops as well as one-on-
one sessions.

One of the most important things to remember is that it’s normal to feel out of
sorts following a highly stressful incident or if you are dealing with a protracted
personal issue. Everyone is different and people cope with these situations in
their own way which may include feeling emotional, experiencing changes to
sleep and eating patterns or headaches.

The old adage ‘time heals all wounds’ is simply a myth. The longer a person
takes to seek help then they run the risk of inflicting emotional pain and
trauma on those nearby. I encourage volunteers or staff who require support
to take the appropriate action and contact the team as soon as possible.

Ron Wingate is available 24/7 and there are also regional support chaplains
on standby to deliver services for volunteers, staff and their families which

• Critical incident stress management
• Grief support and counselling
• Weddings, funerals and visitations

Welfare Coordinator Anneliese Smith, who is a registered psychologist,
coordinates and promotes the team’s extensive programs. This includes the
Employee Assistance Program (professional counselling) and the Peer
Support Program.

The two welfare officers, Rob and Leon, are both uniformed career firefighters
and in addition to providing confidential support they also promote health and

For more information the team’s general number is 1800 15 33 44 or direct
contact numbers include:

• Chaplain Ron Wingate – 9485 7800 (pager)
• Welfare Coordinator Anneliese Smith – 0437 702 806
• Robert (Hank) Kingma – 0419 308 358
• Leon Fernandes – 0409 758 988

This is an important service and I encourage volunteers and staff who need
support to take advantage of the high level of expertise and advice available
which can make a big difference to your life and peace of mind.