As the nation continues to live through and try to make sense of the devastating bushfires destroying so many communities around Australia, the Federal Government pledged a minimum of $2 billion for the creation of a new bushfire recovery agency assisting with distributing payments to those affected.
Recently $76 million of that amount has been committed to providing and implementing mental health services for bushfire victims.
"They (bushfires) have also taken a traumatic emotional toll on our people." Said Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. "We need to ensure the trauma and mental health needs of our people are supported in a way like we never have before."
With the numbers of people, wildlife, properties, businesses and communities directly affected by the fires growing every day, so to does the need for support across many services including mental health.
"We know that trauma and tragedy are deeply linked with mental health impacts and what we're seeing now is that people are in the early phase of recovery and response." Said Health Minister, Greg Hunt.
In a proactive to effort to assist those in the regions directly impacted by the fires, the amount will be distributed across several platforms including:
- $10.5 million will be spent on immediate counselling sessions entitling ten free counselling sessions per person.
- $29.6 million for ongoing psychological support, including telehealth
- $16 million supporting emergency services workers and their families
- $7.4 million supporting youth through headspace
- $5.7 million for trauma informed care and care coordination
- $4.2 million for Primary Health Networks for additional mental health services
With so many regions and people affected, the services will be available to anyone in a bushfire-affected zone.
"Residents, farmers, young, old, small business, communities, people who were visiting and faced the horror of the fires." Said Mr Hunt. "The volunteers and emergency service and medical personnel who have been heroic in supporting people within the fire affected areas, everybody is included."
Another important aspect to recognise is the emotional toll that the fires have had on so many others that have become distressed either through being directly impacted by the fires or alternatively experiencing emotional fatigue with the information and footage of the fires that has been shared so extensively. Although the later is not as in the forefront of conversation, it is still important to address and acknowledge any emotions you or your family members are experiencing with Lifeline releasing some useful resources and information on addressing stress throughout natural disasters.
For more information about the resources available through the government funding in addition please refer to the Primary Health Networks website. For access to support services, contact Services Australia 180 22 66.
Our thoughts go to all of those affected by the devastating fires and urge everyone to continue to look after each other.
Image: Hayden McLean, Foresty Fire Fighter, NSW