Immediate Mental Health Support: 2019-20 Australian bushfire Crisis

Medicare’s Bushfire Response Initiative – Australia’s access to psychological support

The effects on mental health

Millions across Australia have experienced extreme impacts on their mental health and wellbeing as a result of the Australian bushfires. With the loss of homes, jobs and resources it is vital that each Australian is provided with the opportunity to reach out and ask for help including those who have volunteered or in some way been a part of the crisis. For those who have not experienced the fires first-hand but may have close friends/relatives experiencing the hardship, they too can access the Medicare program for support. It is important to recognise the seriousness that these fires have caused on mental health; fear, stress, confusion and loss of hope. Some people may suffer with more severe, intense thoughts and feelings than others and this too needs to be recognised and actioned as early as possible.

A common reaction:
  • Focusing and planning becomes a difficulty
  • Questioning the past actions of yourself and others through the event
  • Constant replaying the events in your mind, creating the image of other possible outcomes due to feelings of guilt/worry
  • Having a negative mindset about the present and future
  • Distressed, anxious, overwhelmed, tearful or unsteady emotions
  • Disrupted sleeping patterns, vivid dreams
Developing trauma and distress:
It is highly recommended that you speak with a professional in mental health or GP should you experience any of the following symptoms:
  • Feelings of worthlessness, thoughts of self-harming and/or suicide
  • Low self-worth and believe you have no purpose
  • Physically unstable, emotionally distressed
  • Daily routines become difficult to follow or are avoided completely
  • No longer caring or interested in life itself or your future
  • Scared, jumpy and easily frightened due to severe anxiety, also causing constant shaking
  • Random panic attacks, increased heart rate, constant sweating and difficulties breathing
  • Feelings of self-hatred and guilt
Medicare Bushfire Recovery Initiative: Receive 10 x Psychology Sessions
A fund of $76 million has been put towards mental health access through Medicare by the Australian Government in order for any Australian affected by the fires to be able to access. This benefits is accessible until the 31st December 2021.

In order to access these sessions with the Medicare rebate, you will not be required to obtain a mental health care plan from your GP meaning that you can self-refer. This allows an easy, immediate access to support for everyone including the victims, firefighters/other emergency department personnel and local communities of the crisis.

Accessing Medicare’s benefit scheme:

To arrange your first psychological session through the scheme, contact us directly and advise our staff that you have been affected by the fires and whether you require a Skype or in-person appointment. Please ensure to have your valid Medicare details on hand before making your initial appointment so we can verify your eligibility. As per our session fees at Vitality Unleashed Psychology, the same existing rates will still apply as normal in relation to the concession/full fee rates and standard gay payments. The medicare rebate you will receive will remain at $126.50 per session.

Persons interested in claiming the Medicare rebate can be from any location or age and are not required to have a pre-diagnosed mental health condition.

Visit the Department of Human Services website to find out more information:

If you would like to get in contact with us, please email or phone 07 5574 3888.

Acute Care Team: 1300 642 255
LifeLine: 13 11 14
BeyondBlue: 1300 22 4636
Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
In an emergency, call ambulance on 000 or attend to your local hospital emergency department whom have mental health teams who provide assessment and brief intervention in times of mental health crisis.