GPH welcomes National Mental Health response to bushfires

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January 15, 2020

GPH Moruya NYE fires2

Grand Pacific Health (GPH) welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement of $76 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities - including first responders, who have been affected by the devastating bushfires.

The bushfire crisis has had an enormous impact across the State and GPH staff have been offering counselling at several evacuation centres says CEO Ron de Jongh:

  • Many of our clinical and non-clinical staff are trained in trauma informed counselling and are providing initial support to evacuees who have had frightening experiences.”
  • Two of our Counsellors, who have been based at the Malua Bay Evacuation Centre, tell me some who have lost their homes have not been ready to talk yet and process what has happened.”
  • There will be a range of emotions they are yet to experience and they, along with many others, will certainly still require support in the coming weeks and months, so news that they can access the help they need will be a relief to many,” added Mr de Jongh.

The funding provided will go towards several initiatives, falling under six elements, to support Australians:

  • Immediate and longer-term support: Immediate free counselling support is being provided for individuals and families in affected communities, including emergency services workers.
  • Youth services: As well as being eligible for the newly created set of 10 Medicare rebated sessions, additional funding for headspace sites in bushfire affected areas will be provided, so young people can get help when they need it. This funding includes fast tracking and expanding the planned Batemans Bay headspace site.
  • Specialised training: Training in trauma informed care and psychological first aid will be provided for emergency service personnel and organisations managing front line emergency staff to identify and support people at risk.
  • Coordination: Bushfire trauma response coordinators will be deployed within bushfire affected Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to ensure integrated service delivery on the ground. A national
  • Community resilience and recovery: Primary Health Networks (PHNs) covering fire affected areas are being funded to expand existing mental health services in fire affected regions to deliver support tailored to community needs.
  • Extra support for emergency services workers: Appropriate organisations will be funded to provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) support services to emergency services workers and their families.

More information about the announcement is available at www.health.gov.au

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