Bushfire funding update for service providers
On 12 January, 2020, the Australian Government announced $76 million funding to provide immediate and ongoing free counselling and mental health support for individuals, families and communities affected by the bushfires, via a new Bushfire Recovery Access Program.
The funding includes:
- $44.3 million for counselling and psychological services for people on the fire fronts, including $4.2 million for Primary Health Networks for additional mental health services
- $5.7 million for trauma informed care and care coordination
- $2.7 million community grants helping communities recover
- $16 million supporting emergency services workers and their families
- $7.4 million supporting youth through headspace (in fire affected areas)
The extra funding for Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in fire affected communities is to deliver ‘surge capacity’ mental health services to individuals and families who are affected.
To date, South Eastern Melbourne PHN does not have areas that have been directly affected by fires, so our PHN will not receive this additional mental health service funding.
However, bushfire-affected individuals and families, and emergency response personnel will be eligible to receive Medicare rebates for up to 10 psychological therapy sessions. Those affected by fires will not need a mental health plan from a GP or a diagnosed mental illness to obtain these services.
For more information, please view the Mental Health Support for Australians Affected by the 2019-20 Bushfires Fact Sheet.
We will update this page as more information becomes available.
GPs who want to offer a helping hand during bushfire season
Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) is dedicated to providing support during the current bushfire crisis, and on an ongoing basis throughout the recovery to rural and regional communities.
The scale of the bushfire crisis means that there will be an ongoing need for health professionals in Victorian communities affected by bushfires. These communities are going to need support and medical coverage in the coming weeks and months.
If GPs are interested in supporting these communities in a locum capacity during this critical time please visit the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria website. GPs can view locum vacancies across Victoria here.
General practices interested in registering to be part of the State Health Emergency Response Plan can visit SEMPHN's Emergency Response page.
Bushfire information and support for consumers in South Eastern Melbourne
Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by the bushfires. Australia’s bushfires are affecting our health in many ways.
Learn more here about smoke and air quality, how you can access the medical help you need, and what the Australian Government is doing to support your health.
You can also read more about:
- Masks and Smoke from bushfires - Health factsheet
- Mental Health Support for Australians Affected by the 2019-20 Bushfires FAQs
- Mental Health Support for Australians Affected by the 2019-20 Bushfires Information Sheet
To date, there has been no interruption of health services in South Eastern Melbourne.
Bushfire-affected individuals and families, and emergency response personnel are eligible to receive Medicare rebates for up to 10 psychological therapy sessions. Those affected by fires will not need a mental health plan from a GP or a diagnosed mental illness to obtain these services.
Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW) are highly qualified mental health specialists who are among those allied health professionals who can deliver the new MBS Bushfire Recovery Items. People impacted by the fires are encouraged to self-refer directly to AMHSWs and do not require a referral from their GP.
If you, or someone you know, needs mental health assistance as a result of the bushfires, contact our Access & Referral team on ph: 1800 862 363 (8.30am-4.30pm weekdays).
Please note, Access & Referral does not provide after-hours or emergency advice or support. If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency department or use any of the crisis helplines below:
13 HELP (13 43 57) - a dedicated phone line for people who are affected by the bushfires
Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467 - 24/7 telephone crisis support for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved, as well as online resources and information.
1800 55 1800 - 24/7 telephone counselling for young people 5-25 years.
1300 78 99 78 - 24/7 telephone and online support, information and referral service for men.
1300 22 4636 - 24/7 telephone support service and online chat 4pm-10pm (AEST).
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South Eastern Melbourne PHN acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land our catchment covers, the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people. We pay respect to them, their culture and their Elders past, present and future, and uphold their relationship to this land.
While the Australian Government Department of Health has contributed to the funding of this website, the information on this website does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by the Australian Government. The Australian Government is not responsible in negligence or otherwise for any injury, loss or damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.