Wellbeing Checklist prior to Exiting FRNSW

The transition into retirement is a major step for most people and as a result it takes time to adjust. Particularly in the FRNSW context a career provides not just money but lifestyle, self-image, purpose and friendships. For many FRNSW employees a burning desire to serve the community, an interest, hobby or passion has been transformed into a career which has been challenging, while providing immense personal fulfilment. The transition into retirement is a major step for most people and as a result it takes time to adjust. Particularly in the FRNSW context a career provides not just money but lifestyle, self-image, purpose and friendships. For many FRNSW employees a burning desire to serve the community, an interest, hobby or passion has been transformed into a career which has been challenging, while providing immense personal fulfilment.

It is important to acknowledge that the individual responses to retirement differ for each person, and depend a lot on the reasons for leaving the workforce. For example, a person who carefully planned for their retirement is more likely to feel positive about it, while a person who is forced into early retirement due to redundancy, injury or illness may find it harder to cope with the transition.

This checklist aims to identify some strategies and support networks which you may wish to consider and or engage with in preparing for and transitioning into retirement.

‘Planned’ retirement

Make sure you are financially secure and understand the reality of having to live on your superannuation. Often superannuation is your only source of income. You need to understand the reality of this, so that financial security can be assured. The following outlines the steps you should consider.

  • Strongly consider actively seeking financial advice – earlier rather than later e.g.2 -3 years prior to retirement.
  • Set up interview with Superannuation provider or financial advisor – this is important to understand and determine your financial future
  • Attend superannuation seminars. Knowledge is power.  Prepare a list of questions that you need answered
  • Financial security can alleviate any future financial concerns and therefore create less stress to you and your partner

Notification of age retirement needs to be given at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to intended, last day.  The date that you elect to retire can be any time and date that you like (see comments below about medical discharge).

  • Notification can be longer and can be adjusted by H.R Advisory if your circumstances change. Notification sent through chain of Command.

FRNSW has an Exit Checklist which is used to complete your departure from the organisation.

  • Once the checklist is completed and authorised, full payment of outstanding monies can be finalised
  • Keep in mind it takes 6 to 8 weeks to receive your first superannuation pension payment

Medical Discharge

Humane Resources Advisory will help you decide your exit plan.  Usually your last date will be decided in conjunction with H.R Advisory; however there can be flexibility depending on your individual situation, so contact H.R Advisory and discuss your preferred date.

Ensure you are aware of your financial entitlements. As with normal retirement, consider seeking financial advice. If you have access to your superannuation, remember it will take 6 to 8 weeks to receive your first payment. Not everyone who is discharged will have access to their superannuation.

Things to consider leading into retirement

1. Consider having a medical and well check (check of psychological wellbeing) before discharge:

  • A medical and well check could support any potential future assistance.
  • It may help with future retirement plans. I.e. Should, I retire now or delay and get help so transition is smoother.
  • encourage your partner/spouse to engage in well checks as they are always the first to    notice problems and to encourage you to seek help.

2. Consider the impact on your family if legal aspects of ageing are not considered.

  • Do you have a Last Will and Testament?
  • Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney – understand the differences
  • Guardianship

3. Set up achievable goals:

  • Volunteer work, university degrees or TAFE courses. This is a great way to keep mentally active. Note that if you have an accepted workers compensation claim, you may have obligations about training and job seeking. You are entitled to an independent rehabilitation provider to assist with this.
  • It’s so important to feel you can still contribute to community. Consider sports clubs, hobbies or community groups that volunteer work/resources.

4. Consider how you will maintain your health – consider joining a gym, playing a sport (golf, cricket, water sport etc.)

  • You will find with the extra time on your hands and using it to proactively work on maintaining your health and fitness is critical. The maintenance of a healthy weight will allow you to have a more active and enjoyable retirement and also prevent lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.
  • If you have accepted workers compensation claim, you may be entitled to exercise programmes or mental health treatment, regardless of the nature of your injury. Talk to your FRNSW Return to Work Advisor or EML case manager.

5. Do not under estimate the importance of family and friends:

  • There are people that usually pick up that we are not travelling so well and  encourage us to seek help.
  • Talk to them about your plan for retirement and some of the challenges you anticipate with making the transition.
  • Being a firefighter has generally been a big part of your life.  Try to maintain a connection with Fire & Rescue NSW by attending retiree functions, coffee meetings, social club outings (sport, motor bike etc.)

Case Study 1

A firefighter with 37 years’ service attended a major incident which left him unable to return to work although there was no physical injury. The firefighter was subsequently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Initially the firefighter sought help from the FRNSW Chaplain. After this the PTSD was deemed a work related injury and from there other help was received by specialist medical practitioners, FRNSW Health Services and Injury Management staff.

Fortunately the firefighter was able to share and speak about the injury and the suffering that occurred with family, work colleagues, supervisors and close friends from the church.
This support was most influential in the recovery process and continues today.After two years the firefighter is medically retired and now very busy with family, including grandchildren and elderly parents.

The time is also spent travelling, socialising, involvement in local church, volunteering and attending FB Retirees Association’s annual functions and send-offs for retiring peers.

Case Study 2

A firefighter with 30 years’ service with FRNSW was medically discharged over 10 years ago. This was due to physical and mental health issues. The firefighter was very proud and unfortunately did not seek help from medical professionals, ex-colleagues, family or friends.

The firefighter is now divorced, estranged from the children of the marriage and lives alone in a rented dwelling. He has no assets accept for an old car, very few friends and does not attend FB Retirees Association’s annual functions or send-offs for retiring peers.

He has for many years suffered serious health issues including severe depression and suicidal thoughts, and only relies on a couple of people for assistance when needed.

There is little connection to community, resulting in loneliness and suffering.

Remember the Retirees Peer Support Program will provide help and information to assist you in getting the support needed. You need however to take the first step.

Information regarding Retirees Peer Support Program below:

www.retiredfirefightersupport.com.au
Wellbeing Coordinator: David Tchappat
david.tchappat@fire.nsw.gov.au