Northern Rivers NSW Special Project

Supporting Frontline Responders


A special project for non profits, charities and community organisations in the seven impacted LGA's of Northern Rivers NSW.

Wellbeing and trauma professional development to support frontline, and the 'accidental' frontline responders. 

Funded by the Department of Communities and Justice, NSW Government. 

UPDATE: The in person and online trainings are completed. If you have queries about further trainings in Northern Rivers, please contact us here.

Photograph courtesy of The Australian newspaper

Program overview

About the Program - 1 day & 2 hour Trainings

Non profit and charity boards, committees of management, staff and volunteers across the seven LGA’s of Northern Rivers NSW will have access to mental health and trauma training and resources from the Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub.

The funding is from the ‘NGO Flood Grant Program’, an initiative of the Department of Communities and Justice (NSW Government), which aims to support Northern NSW communities affected by the floods in February and March 2022.

The NGO Flood Support Program is for the seven highly impacted Northern Rivers Local Government Areas: Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Tweed, Ballina and Byron.

Training and Resources Program of Support

The ‘Supporting Frontline Responders in Northern Rivers NSW’ program will make the following in person and online trainings and services freely available to all non-profits, community organisations and charities in the seven LGAs of Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Tweed, Ballina and Byron.

Each organisation will receive access to the following training and support.

  • Resilient Responders & Empowering Conversations - One Day In Person Training: For staff and volunteers working on the frontline with traumatised individuals, teaching them strategies to prevent and overcome workplace PTSD (vicarious trauma) and burnout as well as how to facilitate brief conversational interventions to help prevent and resolve trauma in their clients.
  • Workplace Wellbeing Strategy: A prevention-focussed 2 hour online workshop, for CEO's, Managers, Boards and executive teams to establish a Wellbeing Strategy on a Page for 2023, and review and improve the policies and practices to ensure psychologically healthy and safe workplaces.

All organisations will also receive free access to:

  • Early access to The Social Sector Wellbeing & Resilience Hub (which launches Australia-wide in 2023)
  • Online self-paced learning modules on the above areas to support those who miss the live training, and/or want to upskill their teams and volunteers throughout 2023.
  • Free videos in the Foundation’s Social Sector Video Library, which includes a section on Wellbeing/People/Culture. 

All services are mapped to the Hub’s trauma-informed mental health and resilience framework.

Social Sector Wellbeing and Resilience Hub

The Hub is an initiative of Benefolk Foundation, an Australian charity that focuses on the mental health and resilience of social sector organisations.

The Hub goes live in May 2023, with a range of resources within a six-pillar framework of Prevent, Protect, Educate, Enhance, Crisis and Recovery.

The Hub, in purpose and scope, is designed to respond to the changing needs of the community by being bespoke to social sector organisations. It provides a broad scope: from prevention to proactive and crisis, with off the shelf resources and 1:1 support.

The Hub is needed as a tool for prevention, to proactively help nonprofits and charities be ready to face potential future challenges and access crisis support.

Read more about the Hub here.

Project Team and Trainers

Our Wellbeing Hub team brings together specialists from around Australia, with deep expertise in social and community sector leadership, mental health, wellbeing and people/culture.


Our Trainers Leanne Hart and Adam Blanch bring 20 years’ experience in trauma-informed training, facilitation and consulting, and are part of the Content Advisory and Content Development teams in the Hub.

  • Leanne is a trauma-informed facilitator with a people and culture background and has designed and delivered workplace training and workshops across Australia and globally for corporate, privately-owned and NFP organisations.
  • Adam has delivered trainings to staff and volunteers from hundreds of non profit and community organisations, and is a trauma psychologist with a clinical practice in Byron Bay, and experienced first hand through clients and personal experience the impacts of the 2022 flood events.

The Need

Research tells us that 20% of frontline responders go on to experience PTSD as a result of being exposed to the trauma of their client.

Non profit and charity leaders in regional and rural NSW have told us over recent months that their teams are exhausted, and many have outlined the impacts this is having on service delivery.

Many organisation leaders have also told us they feel ill-equipped to prevent the impacts of trauma in their organisations, with many staff and volunteers not trained to respond effectively to the level of trauma experienced as a result of the flood events of 2022. 

Organisation leaders are also looking for services that are fit for purpose:

  • Services that understand small non profits and those in rural/regional communities.
  • Services that are not generic in workplace mental health, but focussed on frontline responders dealing with traumatised clients and communities.
  • Free or low cost services, as organisations do not have the budgets for mainstream providers.
  • Services that can be accessed locally (not needing to drive to major cities).

Our RESET 2020 National Impact + Need Research Study (September 2020, Phase 2) into the impacts of COVID 19 pandemic on social sector organisations, also showed: 

  • 80% believe that existing sector constraints exacerbate the impacts on mental health/wellbeing.
  • 45% are feeling stressed/anxious often/always (up from 13% pre-pandemic).
  • 41% are exhausted/frustrated (up from 9% pre-pandemic).
  • 40% are not taking care of themselves often/always (up from 18% pre-pandemic).
  • 69% of organisations rate the overall impact on their leadership team as negative.
  • 48% rate the overall impacts on their Boards as negative.

We know anecdotally, and through our partners, that the conditions for social sector professionals and volunteers has worsened since September 2020. 

Project and Media Inquiries

For all enquiries, please connect with us here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many trainings can our organisation register for? 

There are 2 different trainings:

  • One-day in-person trainings in Tweed, Grafton and Ballina. They are the same training, just in 3 different locations.
  • Two hour online trainings.

You are welcome to register for both. 

How many staff can we bring to the trainings?

  • Online trainings - It is ideal to have no more than 3 people from your organisation online.
  • In person trainings - We have based the program on maximum 3 people from each organisation. But if you have more than 3, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. 
  • Self paced program - This will be available to your whole organisation to utilise.

When are the trainings going to be held? 

The trainings run from January to May 2023. The self paced learning modules will be made available from May 2023.

When does the Wellbeing Hub launch? 

The Wellbeing Hub launches in May 2023. Early access is provided to all Northern Rivers organisations as part of our beta testing phase, that commences in February. Read more here.

What if we need support outside of the training or dates available? 

The program above is sponsored by NSW Government. We hope to work with other funding partners to provide more free or low-cost training. 

Please contact our office to make an enquiry. One of our team members will give you a call to better understand your needs. 

How can I find out more, or ask questions?

We ran Information Sessions over November, December and January to explain the program.

If you have any questions, please email our team anytime


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