Wavne Rikkers’ research aims to identify the strategies and recommendations that emergency services agencies could adopt to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce. The focus of this research is on barriers to help-seeking by workers who have developed, or are at risk of developing, serious mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, because of their work experiences. Results to date indicate that emergency service agencies may need to address issues such as stigma or mental health literacy. The former would require a significant shift in culture and attitudes and the latter requires an easier fix that uses training programs aimed at increasing mental health literacy and improving the understanding of how early intervention and support can ameliorate development or worsening of mental health conditions/symptoms.
Wavne is currently a Senior Research Officer in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Western Australia. She is also Co-Chief Investigator of After the Fires, the national survey of the wellbeing and resilience of Australia’s emergency services following the 2019-20 bushfire season.