Tony's Trek is a solo walk of 1440km over 50 days from 10 March to 5 May 2023 to raise much needed awareness of the terrible mental health toll that emergency service work can take on our emergency workers.
Tony Pearce, Emergency Services Foundation (ESF) chair and Victoria's Inspector-General for Emergency Management hopes the trek will raise funds for ESF to implement two pioneering prevention programs which will provide benefit to frontline and support workers sector wide.
During his trek, Tony will travel through many of the areas affected by Victoria's 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires acknowledging the mental health impacts those fires had – and continue to have - on emergency workers and community members alike.
This is a big undertaking and one Tony truly believes will make a significant contribution to improving mental health outcomes for our paid and volunteer emergency workforce.
Listen to the story behind Tony's Trek
Why Tony's Trek
On top of his day job as the Inspector-General for Emergency Management, Tony also holds the voluntary role as chair of the Emergency Services Foundation (ESF).
Throughout his almost forty years in the emergency management sector, Tony has seen many of his colleagues suffer from trauma that often results in mental health injury with lasting impacts throughout their career and into retirement.
For Tony, it will be one step at a time to achieve this goal and personal physical feat.
Recovery from mental health injury is also a personal journey that involves taking one step at a time.
To support and raise awareness of ESF’s work in improving mental health outcomes for Victoria’s 139,000 emergency workers in frontline and support roles - both paid and volunteer - Tony is commititng to a solo ultra-distance walk.
His journey starts on 10 March 2023 from the State Control Centre in East Melbourne, completing 1440 kms over 50 days, finishing back where he started on 5 May 2023.
The route has been specifically chosen to cover much of the area where the Victorian Black Summer Bushfires occurred which Tony hopes will acknowledge the horrible mental health impacts those fires had and continue to have on emergency workers, along with the community members themselves of these areas.
Find out about ways to support the ESF and Tony's Trek by:
- making a donation to the ESF
- becoming a partner or sponsor
- offering your skills, support or idea
- joining Tony for a stretch of the trek
ESF will use funds raised from Tony’s Trek to deliver two pioneering, evidence-informed prevention focused initiatives to benefit emergency workers no matter whether they are at the frontline or in important support roles before, during or after emergencies.
- A lived experience program which will see ESF train mental health ambassadors from across the sector to safely share their stories of mental health injury and recovery. This will help to reduce the mental health stigma which pervades the sector and inhibits early help seeking when the chance of recovery is greatest.
- A pilot residential wellbeing program to bring together emergency workers who are mentally struggling, to help them process trauma and develop resilience skills supported by experts who completely understand their experiences. This will help them effectively self-manage to reduce the cumulative effect of trauma and the risk of developing serious mental health injury.