Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud has welcomed an initial $76 million for mental health support in bushfire-hit communities.
The extra services are available immediately to firefighters, emergency personnel and individuals facing the fires and recovering in the aftermath.
Minister Littleproud said the package was part of an all of government approach to the bushfire recovery.
“These communities have gone through one of the toughest events they’ll ever experience,” Minister Littleproud said.
“This $76 million is just the start to fund counselling sessions, Medicare and tele-health consultations and more youth headspace services.
“Of this, $10.5 million is available so people can immediately access up to 10 free counselling sessions.
“This will support our firefighters who have seen the unthinkable while saving other people’s lives and property.
“The sessions will be available at recovery centres, Service Australia centres, and existing local mental health centres in fire affected regions.
“Another $3.2 million will help deploy bushfire mental health response coordinators to fire affected areas.
“We all have a responsibility to look after one another and this package is part of that.
“The best thing anyone can do for themselves is to ask for help when they need it.
“It’s also important people reach out to one another, and if they think someone’s struggling, ask if they’re okay.
“Help is only a phone call away with Lifeline and Beyond Blue counsellors standing by,
“The Department of Human Services also has people working extended hours to make sure people get the help they need."
Anyone who needs immediate distress and trauma support can contact Services Australia on 180 22 66 or a local Primary Health Network at www.health.gov.au/phn
Anyone experiencing distress as a result of the fires can get immediate support through Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or the Government’s mental health portal www.headtohealth.gov.au
Source: Australian Government