Prime Minister Scott Morrison Pledges $76m To Treat Bushfire Trauma
Firefighters and residents in fire-affected communities will be able to access more free psychological counselling as part of a new $76 million mental health package.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said the package would ensure communities could address the traumatic emotional toll the "unprecedented" bushfires have had on people.
"We need to ensure the trauma and mental health needs of our people are supported in a way like we never have before," he said in a statement.
Free counselling sessions will be available through recovery centres and Service Australia sites to address short-term trauma.
Youth-focused Headspace will get $7.4m to boost services in 12 fire-ravaged regions and to speed-up the construction of its Batemans Bay centre.
Firefighters and other emergency personnel will be able to access more intensive support through better-funded specialist organisations.
Looking further ahead, almost $30m will go to boosting tele-health services and doubling the number of free psychological therapy sessions bushfire-affected people can access through Medicare.
People trying to access those services will not require a mental health plan from a GP or a diagnosed illness.
Developing a mental health framework to allow federal and state governments to better respond to national disasters will cost $500,000.
State governments have been providing disaster welfare services including counselling in evacuation centres throughout the crisis.
The Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine dubbed the bushfires "a national public health crisis" on Saturday, saying mental health was among the longer-term health risks to communities.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.