Seventy-five 'Gentle Bears' have arrived at the NSW Rural Fire Service in Nowra, ready to support and care for children who experience traumatic incidents.
Gentle Bear was the brainchild of Gallagher Bassett and the South Australian police department who wanted to do more to help the children they were coming into contact with when responding to 000 calls.
"Gentle Bear acts as an emotional aid for children in emergency situations like house fires or serious road traffic accidents," said Gallagher Bassett CEO, John McNamara.
"These bears distract a child's attention from the immediate, distressing situation by providing a reassuring and safe object to latch on to."
To date, 5000 Gentle Bears have been donated to the NSW RFS in 2019.
Research has shown that giving support to others can reduce physiological stress responses during times of trauma, with the act of giving itself contributing to beneficial health outcomes.
The initiative is supported by icare, with spokesperson Britt Coombe saying Gentle Bears represent an opportunity to support the mental health and wellbeing of the state's volunteer firefighters.
"We hope Gentle Bear will not only benefit the children who are affected by emergency situations, but that it will also look out for the wellbeing of our volunteer fire fighters who are able to 'doing something' in a situation that can otherwise make them feel powerless," Ms Coombe said.