The Morrison Government has announced it will be providing more than $35.9 million to ensure communities affected by the East Coast floods can continue to access vital health services and additional mental health support.
The widespread floods in Queensland and New South Wales have had a devastating effect – and the impacts on many thousands of Australians will be felt for years to come.
The Government recognises immediate health support is required to assist local residents to get back on their feet, support their families and rebuild their lives.
Mental health and trauma support
The Morrison Government has said it will be providing $31.2 million over two years for additional mental health support for Australians affected by the floods.
- $16.6 million for local mental health services to meet immediate psychological needs of communities, including:
- $13.5 million to boost the availability of psychological therapies delivered by local service providers.
- $2.4 million for local Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to deliver culturally appropriate, locally designed mental health services in impacted communities.
- $200,000 to assist the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma provide psychological support for current clients impacted by the floods.
- $500,000 to ensure the Australian Psychological Society can continue to deploy its Disaster Response Network of over 500 trauma-trained psychologists.
- $9 million to support the mental health of children and young people, including:
- $4.5 million to fund headspace services currently impacted by the floods, including funding to rebuild or relocate headspace Lismore and provide outreach services to Ballina and surrounding regions.
- $4.5 million to provide dedicated services to impacted children and young people, with a focus on working through school communities, provided by Royal Far West.
- $1.2 million to accelerate the establishment of a Head to Health centre in Lismore, with a particular focus on trauma recovery and PTSD treatment.
- $3 million towards Wellbeing and Resilience Grants that allow communities the opportunity to choose their response to the loss, anxiety and distress they have experienced, as well as actively participate in their recovery.
The Morrison Government recognises the significant impact multiple disasters, including the floods, the Covid-19 pandemic and bushfires, are having on individuals, families and communities, and is providing significant investment to better support recovery from this most recent disaster.
According to Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, the aim of these measures is to ensure immediate and longer-term mental health support for individuals, families, and communities affected by the disaster, and will also include a range of community recovery initiatives.
“Importantly, this package of support will be provided over the next two years because we know support won’t just be needed in the next few months, and people living in flood-affected regions of QLD and NSW will need substantial ongoing support,” says Minister Hunt.
“Mental health is one of the Morrison Government’s highest priorities and we will continue to ensure that all Australians can access the mental health support and treatment they need, no matter where they are.”
Immediate healthcare supports
The Morrison Government has announced it is providing $4.7 million to ensure continuity of primary health care services for flood-impacted Australians, particularly in worst-hit communities.
- $2.5 million for primary health care emergency response teams to ensure urgent access to health services in flood-impacted regions.
- $1.5 million to establish a shared temporary business premise in Lismore for displaced local primary health care providers to ensure delivery of health services for Lismore.
- $700,000 to create a temporary surge workforce able to meet the current emergency need in Lismore and a longer-term capacity to meet demand if practices are inoperable or GPs need respite for the medium term.
“In the immediate term, our Government will provide support to help ensure continuity of primary health care services – including the vital services provided by general practices, pharmacies and mental health providers,” says Minister Hunt.
This support is essential to help affected communities respond to the urgent challenges they face.”
MBS telehealth continues to be available across affected regions. An exemption has been made to normal MBS rules so people in flood-affected regions don’t have to have an existing relationship with a GP to access MBS-subsidised telehealth services (video and phone).
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) in significantly flood-affected regions will be funded to support their emergency response activities.
In particular, the PHNs will work with primary health care providers in their regions and with relevant state and local agencies to help ensure affected communities are able to access urgent primary and mental health care services.
In the severely impacted northern NSW community of Lismore, locum support for general practices and pharmacies will bolster the local workforce and assist in providing continuity of health care for residents where a number of general practices and pharmacies have been forced to close.
Temporary shared practice accommodation is also being established in Lismore for displaced primary health care providers, including general practitioners, pharmacists, allied health providers, mental health service providers and dentists.
Contacts for support
Anyone experiencing distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Young Australians needing support can access free services through Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), their local headspace or online through e-headspace: headspace.org.au/eheadspace/.