The current bushfire disasters will have a significant and ongoing impact upon the mental health of the families and friends of those who have lost property or loved ones, who no longer have a home, and the local communities where businesses, livestock, wildlife and their treasured environment have all been left decimated. 

Over the past couple of weeks, we have received a lot of information about bushfires and mental health.

Earlier this week, the Australian Government announced a range of initiatives to provide support to people affected by the trauma of the bushfire disaster. The package has been informed by consultation with the sector, experts in trauma related disaster support and the experiences of previous events such as the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009.

The following measures will be implemented immediately: 

  • frontline emergency distress and trauma counselling through Primary Health Networks;
  • trauma informed care training for emergency service personnel;
  • trauma informed personnel management for employers of emergency service personnel;
  • bushfire trauma response coordinators who will be engaged by Primary Health Networks; and
  • expansion of Telehealth support.

Further measures that will be provided in the short to medium term include:

  • sustained care through additional MBS services available from 17 January 2020;
  • support for young people through expanded headspace services;
  • trauma care services to emergency service workers and their immediate families;
  • pilot program to provide a support and mental health literacy network for emergency services workers and their families/kinship groups;

The current bushfire disasters will have a significant and ongoing impact upon the mental health of the families and friends of those who have lost property or loved ones, who no longer have a home, and the local communities where businesses, livestock, wildlife and their treasured environment have all been left decimated. 

  • a national cross-services framework for responding to national disasters;
  • support tailored to community needs; and
  • community connectedness and recovery grants through Primary Health Networks.

More details of the package can be found at the Australian Government’s Department of Health website: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/emergency-health-management/bushfire-information-and-support/australian-government-mental-health-response-to-bushfire-trauma

The National Mental Health Commission has also published a media release which goes into further depth about the package: https://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au/news/2020/january/mental-health-priority-for-bushfire-recovery

Best wishes,
Melanie

Melanie Cantwell Acting CEO