Prince William and Kate send important mental health message to Australia's emergency workers

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

Prince William and Kate have sent a message to paramedics, firefighters and police in Australia, as the nation continues to fight coronavirus soon after battling the bushfires.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were reportedly planning a royal tour in Australia this year, but with that looking less likely, they have shared a video on the country’s inaugural Thank A First Responder Day.

The couple noted the responders need to jump so quickly from battling the fires which ravaged the country to dealing with the global pandemic.

William, 37, began the message saying: “Earlier this year we witnessed thousands of firefighters, supported by the wider first responder community, as they worked tirelessly risking their own lives to protect Australian communities from the devastating wildfires.

“The world was watching your efforts, and we were deeply moved by what we saw.”

Kate, 38, went on to say: “Sadly, you’re now on the front line of yet another emergency. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought first responders across Australia together again.

“Day in, day out paramedics, police, firefighters and support staff work tirelessly to keep everybody safe, often risking not only their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing.”

Kate and William in Australia in 2014, on tour with George. (Reuters)

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William said: “We must mention Australia’s volunteer first responders who choose to put their lives on hold, to support their communities, at times of need. And we should not forget that these incredible people are supported every day by their families and friends.”

The couple has been making the mental health of Britain’s frontline responders and key workers their priority through the Royal Foundation over recent weeks.

William has spoken on several occasions about his fears for the mental wellbeing not just of NHS workers, but of the nation as a whole. Last week he warned about the dangers of using the word hero to refer to medics and NHS workers.

William and Kate at Uluru, on their 2014 tour. (Reuters)

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The couple’s message helped marked the first Thank A First Responder Day, which has been organised by Fortem Australia, a non-profit focused on improving the mental health and wellbeing of those who protect and care for Australian communities.

The duke ended with the words: “Time and time again when Australia has needed protecting you have answered that call.

“You should be immensely proud of everything you do. And we send our very best wishes to you all and to your families.”

Australia’s coronavirus response means the nation has only reported 103 deaths linked to the disease. The country’s lockdown is being lifted at different rates in different states and regions.