Peer Support Officers (PSOs) are an integral part of the Fire and Emergency Services Support Network (FESSN). PSOs are QFES members who are trained to assist and support colleagues, with either work-related or personal difficulties.
PSOs are volunteers who relate to colleagues by virtue of a common working environment and experiences. They work in conjunction with the FESSN Coordinator Peer Support Programs, Regional Supervision Counsellors and fellow PSOs to provide confidential, informal short-term assistance, support or guidance to colleagues. This may include referring members to appropriate community resources or other specialist services.
PSOs are located in all regions throughout Queensland and based in a range of positions, ranks and roles. PSOs are carefully selected on the basis of trust, integrity and a demonstrated interest in the health and wellbeing of fellow workers.
PSOs aim to promote well-being and link individuals to professional services if required.
PSOs have no operational authority or status other than that which they would have in their normal duties. PSOs are under supervision locally by a professional independent Counsellor (Regional Supervision Counsellor) for their support role and are accountable to the FESSN Management Team on a state-wide basis.
Each PSO must be an active QFES member, have successfully completed the PSO selection and training process; been assessed by the FESSN Management Team as having the appropriate personal skills to fulfil the role; and maintained their commitment to the PSO supervision/training requirements.
QFES currently hosts two Peer Support networks:
The QFES Peer Support Program supports the whole QFES workforce including personnel from all three services, capabilities and corporate divisions.
The Role of the Peer Support Officer
Peer Support Officers may provide:
one-on-one / individual support
assistance with group support sessions after a critical incident
information and referral to professional counselling or other services if required.
Peer Support Officers are NOT counsellors and are not trained to give psychological advice. PSOs are NOT advocates or representations for HR matters/disciplinary/performance management issues.
They are good listeners who can help to explore your concerns, offer practical support and assist you toward linking in with additional support if needed.
To find your local PSO, go to Fire & Emergency Services Support Network Peer Support Officer contact details
If you are seeking professional counselling support, please see the Counsellors page
Critical Incident Response & Management
Peer Support Officers (PSOs) are often involved in supporting critical incidents; and when operational demands are unusually high, or an event occurs which has potential for high emotional, traumatic impact.
In these situations PSOs may:
work with leaders to evaluate the need for supporting Critical Incident Response & Management (CIRM) intervention
assist in the provision of individual or group support sessions to help reduce the initial stress of an incident and promote healthy coping strategies
liaise closely with professional Counsellors to arrange further support assistance. Click here to find a list of professional Counsellors.
Personal information about staff and volunteers gained through their roles as PSOs may only be revealed when:
it is a legal requirement to disclose information
failure to disclose information would place the client or another person at risk of harm
the member's written consent has been obtained to release the information to another person or agency
PSO attends confidential supervision sessions with the Regional Supervision Counsellor.
How to Contact a PSO
Who can contact a PSO?
Any QFES staff member or volunteer experiencing personal or work-related challenges.
This includes Fire & Rescue Service staff, Auxiliary Firefighters, Rural Fire Service volunteers, SES Volunteers and all QFES administrative, technical or professional staff.
When should I contact a QFES PSO / Counsellor?
You should seek help from a PSO or Counsellor if you notice:
the way you feel is getting in the way of living the life you would like to lead
an increase in your alcohol, tobacco and other drugs use
any decline in the quality of your relationships with others
any unwelcome change of behaviour that has negative consequences for you.
How do I Connect with a current QFES PSO or Counsellor?
Here is a list of all current QFES PSOs
Here is a list of all current Counsellors
How to become a PSO
If you are a QFES member with at least two years duration of service and possess the necessary personal qualities, then you may be selected and trained to become a Peer Support Officer.
To apply to become a PSO click on this link PSO Online Application and follow the online application process.
There are several steps in the application process that will assist you and the FESSN Management Team to determine if you are the right fit for this volunteer position. The final decision however, rests with the FESSN Management Team.
To become a PSO, an applicant must successfully complete the selection as outlined below.
For more information refer to the PSO Information Kit (PDF 674KB)
Selection and Training Process
- Minimum two years QFES experience.
- Current and active QFES member.
Phase 1: Application
Speak with a Current QFES PSO
- In order to gain a deeper understanding about the role of a PSO, it is a good idea to speak with a PSO about their experiences.
- Here is a list of all current QFES PSOs
Nominate Three Referees
Phase 2: Interview
The second phase of the selection process to become a PSO includes attendance at an interview and successful completion of an ethics screening and regional endorsement.
The interview will be facilitated by the Regional Supervision Counsellor for the relevant region/area.
The applicant will be notified when and where the interview will take place.
For remote locations, telephone interviews will be arranged.
Due to the complexity of the selection process, the FESSN Management Team may not be able to provide individual feedback to each applicant.
All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application.
Comply with the standards and expectations as outlined in the PSO Guidelines, Code of Ethics and PSO Statement of Agreement.
Invitation to Attend the Peers Support Foundation Training Course
- If you have successfully completed phase 2 of the selection process, you will be invited to attend the 5 ½ day training course.
Phase 3: Attendance at the Peer Support Foundation Training and Assessment Course
Attend the 5 ½ Day Training Course
The peer support training course builds upon the personal qualities, skills and abilities of the individual with the inclusion of advanced training on topics including:
- interpersonal communication
- mental health and well-being
- supporting QFES staff in the managing well-being.
Phase 4: Probation & Endorsement
6 Month Probation period
- Every new PSO will be required to undertake a minimum of 6 months probationary period where the PSO will be mentored by the Regional Supervision Counsellor and PSO team.
Attend Review Interview
- A review will be conducted by the Regional Supervision Counsellor at the conclusion of the probation period.
Phase 5: Active Status as a PSO
In order to be endorsed as a PSO, competency at each phase must be achieved.
As an active PSO you will be listed on the PSO Contact List and be available for peer support duties.
A performance review every three years is required.
Regular performance reviews are conducted by the Regional Supervision Counsellor to ensure ongoing suitability.
Refer to the PSO Information Kit (PDF 674KB) for more detailed information regarding the PSO Selection and Training Process.
Refer to PSO Selection and Application Process (PDF 110KB)