There’s still a stigma about mental health and there shouldn’t be – we need to accept and talk about it like any other disease or injury.

Jim Smith  Ordinary Courage

Jim Smith AFSM – General Manager

Ordinary Courage General Manager Jim Smith is a respected leader who is highly regarded both for his business acumen and his approach.During his esteemed career, the retired Fire & Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner has earned a reputation as a ‘good bloke’ who genuinely cares about people’s wellbeing, health and safety. Jim’s major goal at Fire & Rescue was No Fire Deaths. With Ordinary Courage it’s that All Workplaces Are Mentally Healthy. The opportunity to provide organisations with the tools to sustain good workplace mental health is the lure that attracted Jim to Ordinary Courage.“At Fire & Rescue NSW, we implemented a lot of cutting edge mental health programs,” Jim says.  “I saw the significant impact they had on both individuals and the organisation as a whole.  Ordinary Courage has the expertise and experience to to make a positive impact in the wider business community and I feel privileged to lead a company that I know can make a genuine difference now and into the future.”

Jim’s road to Ordinary Courage

A Visionary Leading Change In The Workplace 





Fire Service

the ‘acknowledged expert’

During his 36 years with the NSW fire service, Jim served in every rank from recruit to Acting Commissioner. He also held many operational positions and was the acknowledged the expert in a range of specialist areas. He has been honoured with numerous accolades for his groundbreaking work.

State Emergency Service

prevention and response

For two years, Jim was Commissioner of the NSW State Emergency Service responsible for all prevention and response operations. Jim’s consultative and collaborative leadership style was appreciated by volunteers, who felt heard and respected.


from emergency response to welfare

Since retiring from Fire & Rescue NSW in 2016, Jim has been a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service. He has also volunteered with Disaster Relief Australia, the Invictus Games and is Secretary of the Fromelles Association of Australia.


helping young people

Jim is a practicing solicitor in NSW and also volunteers his time to assist y.  Jim also holds a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Geography and Economic History, a Master of Arts in Australian History and an Executive Master of Public Administration. Additionally he is a Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, passing eight papers at Membership level.

Mark Dobson AFSM – Founder

I founded Ordinary Courage to help leaders who want to forge change but are not sure where to start.

Ordinary Courage founder Mark Dobson is acclaimed for his ground breaking workplace mental health programs.

His collaborative efforts with medical professionals and other experts have been widely published, including in the world-leading medical journal The Lancet.

Mark wrote the first evidence-based proactive mental health program for a state Government first responder service and was recognised with the TMF Risk Leadership Award in 2015.

Three years later, he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate how organisations can provide purpose and reintegration opportunities for veterans.

In 2020 Mark was honoured with the Australian Fire Service Medal for his pioneering work supporting first responders’ mental health.

Mark’s road to Ordinary Courage

A Pioneer In Workplace Mental Health 

Navy Veteran




Fire Service

changing culture

During 18 years as a firefighter, Mark took seven years away from operational duties to work in a wellbeing role. During this time, he was singularly and personally responsible for managing the mental health of more than 7,000 firefighters. Mark forged cultural change, transforming how firefighters think about – and manage – their mental health. He achieved this with a comprehensive evidence based strategy, an engaging communications process and the enlistment and promotion of champions, managers and staff who were willing to share their experiences and successes.

Royal Australian Navy

‘morale’ – the old word for mental health

Mark’s commitment to workplace mental health started almost 30 years in the high-stress environment of a war zone.  As a Physical Training Instructor with the Royal Australian Navy, Mark was responsible for the morale, physical and mental health of the ship’s company. He held this role aboard HMAS Darwin during two deployments to Gulf War of the early 1990s and later aboard HMAS Jervis Bay in Solmalia as part of a United Nations operation.

Disaster Response

and volunteering

As a firefighter, Mark was deployed to Christchurch to assist after the 2011 earthquake as part of a United Nations-sanctioned Urban Search & Rescue Team. Mark now volunteers as a Disaster Team Response Manager for Disaster Relief Australia, which unites the skills and experiences of Australian Defence Force veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency relief teams around the globe.

Mental Health Publications

meaningful change

Mark wrote the first NSW Government agency mental health policy, now used by other first responder organisations to develop and implement workplace mental health programs.

He led the design of a world first manager training program in mental health awareness, working closely with UNSW Sydney and the Black Dog Institute, which decreased the sickness absence in firefighters.

Mark also worked with UNSW Sydney to develop the Fit Mind Program to increase awareness and improve help seeking behaviour among recruit firefighters.

He has also collaborated on papers about the prevalence of PTSD among firefighters, Resilience Training and Firefighter exposure to traumatic events

At the 2020 Queen’s Birthday awards Investiture ceremony, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC described the Australian Honours System as ‘an order of chivalry’.  The Governor’s words captured the essence of ordinary courage as everyday people, including leaders, embrace the ancient concept of chivalry to forge change for the future …