MP welcomes $76M mental health plan for fire-hit areas
MEMBER for Maranoa David Littleproud has welcomed an initial $76 million for mental health support in bushfire-hit communities by the Federal Government.
The extra services are available immediately to firefighters, emergency personnel and individuals facing the fires and recovering in the aftermath.
Mr Littleproud said the package was part of an all of government approach to the bushfire recovery.
“These communities have gone through one of the toughest events they’ll ever experience,” Mr Littleproud said.
“This $76 million is just the start to fund counselling sessions, Medicare and telehealth consultations and more youth headspace services.
“Of this, $10.5 million is available so people can immediately access up to 10 free counselling sessions.
“This will support our firefighters who have seen the unthinkable while saving other people’s lives and property.
“The sessions will be available at recovery centres, Service Australia centres, and existing local mental health centres in fire-affected regions.
He said another $3.2 million would help deploy bushfire mental health response co-ordinators to fire-affected areas.
Mr Littleproud said everyone had a responsibility to look after one another, and this package was part of that.
“The best thing anyone can do for themselves is to ask for help when they need it,” Mr Littleproud said.
“It’s also important people reach out to one another, and if they think someone’s struggling, ask if they’re OK.
“Help is only a phone call away, with Lifeline and Beyond Blue counsellors standing by.”
He said the Department of Human Services also had staff working extended hours to make sure people got the help they needed.
Anyone who needs immediate distress and trauma support can contact Services Australia on 180 22 66 or a local Primary Health Network at www.health.gov.au/phn.
Anyone experiencing distress as a result of the fires can get immediate support through Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or the government’s mental health portal www.headtohealth.gov.au.