Stand­ing along­side with sup­port

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Su­sanne Reilly @SusReilly

POST-TRAU­MATIC Stress Dis­or­der (PTSD) can de­velop in any­one who has ex­pe­ri­enced a trau­matic event.

For first-re­spon­ders such as po­lice, fire­fight­ers, paramedics and mil­i­tary per­son­nel, the ex­pe­ri­ences can be more com­mon.

Gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­ment agen­cies have worked hard to sup­port these peo­ple, but sup­port solely for the part­ners of these peo­ple has not been a com­mon prac­tice. Three lo­cal women want to change that. St James res­i­dent Sarah, with Paige and Laura, formed Along­side – a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides sup­port, ed­u­ca­tion, respite and em­pow­er­ment to part­ners of peo­ple with PTSD.

In March this year the women met af­ter Sarah, who is now the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, shared her story of sup­port­ing a spouse with PTSD pub­licly.

The story res­onated with Paige and Laura, and all three felt there was nowhere to reach out to when sup­port­ing a spouse with men­tal health is­sues, which re­sulted from their job.

They have been busy for the past four months and have gained sup­port from gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing the WA Po­lice Union (WAPU).

Sarah said the aim of Along­side was to strengthen and pro­vide sup­port net­works for peo­ple so they were bet­ter equipped to help their part­ner through prob­lems.

She said while there was a lot of sup­port for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from PTSD, there was not enough for the part­ners, who are usu­ally the main sup­port­ers.

“Ser­vices on this end are cru­cial,” she said.

Sarah’s hus­band is a serv­ing po­lice of­fi­cer and de­vel­oped PTSD from an event on the job.

“It’s a very iso­lat­ing jour­ney be­ing the spouse. I was very lonely.” She said shar­ing her story pub­licly was the last re­sort in her search for help.

“It just snow­balled from there,” she said. “Just be­ing able to talk to some­one helped.”

Along­side of­fers sup­port groups for part­ners and will con­tinue to ex­pand to in­clude more ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing.

WAPU has voiced its sup­port for Along­side and se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Bran­don Short­land said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was a fan­tas­tic ini­tia­tive.

“I be­lieve it is a per­fect part­ner­ship for WAPU. While we as­sist mem­bers, this or- gan­i­sa­tion can as­sist their part­ners,” he said.

“WAPU recog­nises the huge role part­ners and fam­i­lies play in help­ing mem­bers with psy­cho­log­i­cal in­juries.

He said the board was due to con­sider seed fund­ing for Along­side this month.

“In the mean­time, we are pro­vid­ing Along­side with advertising space on our web­site and in Po­lice News.”

See page 8 for Su­sanne Reilly’s ed­i­to­rial about life as a po­lice­man’s part­ner.

If you think you or know some­one who may be suf­fer­ing from PTSD, con­tact Be­yond­Blue on 1300 224 636.

Paige, Sarah and Laura have started a sup­port group for part­ners of peo­ple with PTSD.

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