The Australian Government’s comprehensive bushfire recovery package will provide immediate, short term and medium term mental health support for individuals, families and communities, including emergency services personnel, impacted by the ongoing bushfire emergency.
Gippsland PHN has already started the process of commissioning services to ensure people have access to the coordinated and tailored support they need to recover from the distress and impact on their mental health and wellbeing at this time and also into the future.
Known as the Bushfire Recovery Access Program, Gippsland PHN will lead the bushfire mental health response. It has already appointed a Coordinator to a dedicated role of leading this response who will work and coordinate services with communities, key stakeholders, health services and government agencies.
- Provide immediate access to and ongoing free counselling and support to communities, individuals, families and emergency services workers;
- Provide additional support to headspace centres;
- Expand existing mental health service addressing medium to longer term impact;
- Offer funding grants to communities to promote mental health healing and post-trauma recovery. The grants will allow communities to choose their own way to respond to the losses they have experienced and reduce post-traumatic stress.
Gippsland PHN will provide regular updates on the Bushfire Recovery Access Program. Go to www.gphn.org.au or call 51 75 5444.
In the meantime, if you need support, there are a wide range of services available. Many are already on our website, but others are listed below:
- You can access support by visiting your nearest recovery centre, evacuation centre or mobile support centre established by local councils. Contact Councils for the location of these centres – East Gippsland 1300 555 886; Wellington 1300 366 244; Latrobe City 1300 367 700.
- Services Australia can be contacted by calling 180 22 66 to either speak with a social worker or find out how to locate and access support in your community.
- Mental health support and how to access these services in fire affected communities can be found on the Human Services website which is updated regularly: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/subjects/bushfire-recovery-access-program
- Consolidated Mental Health Information Webpage – Helplines, Resources, Disaster Toolkits and Fact Sheets – https://www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/mental-health-support-for-bushfire-affected-communities
- Better Health and VicEmergency Relief and Recovery websites continue to be a central point for community information on relief and early recovery services. To access this information, go to https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/VicEmergency Relief and Recovery https://emergency.vic.gov.au/relief/#east_gippsland_fires_2019_20
- General information – The National Bushfire Recovery Agency (https://pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/national-bushfire-recovery-agency) will oversee a National Bushfire Recovery Fund which will support all recovery efforts across Australia over the next two years. The agency is based out of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Its website includes fact sheets with more details on the recovery efforts, where people can go to for support and key contacts for emergency assistance. https://pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/bushfire-recovery-factsheet.pdf