Bushfire crisis 2020

Bushfire information for primary care in Melbourne’s north west

Page last updated on 16 January 2020 

We know many people have friends and family affected by the bushfires. Our thoughts are with people in the affected areas, firefighters, first responders, primary care workers and others experiencing this crisis.

This page will be updated as more information comes to hand.

How health professionals and primary care workers can help

Hospitals and other health providers in east Gippsland and north east Victoria are facing staff shortages, which are expected to increase.  Visit the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria website to find out how you can help.

Speeding up the process to get doctors to bushfire-affected communities

The Department of Health’s emergency protocols are expediting the dispatch of GPs and allied health workers to bushfire-affected communities. Doctors who are unrestricted in where they can work and allied health professionals can work at a new practice for up to two weeks, using their existing Medicare provider number.

How you can support patients affected by the crisis

  • CAREinMIND™ mental health services

    CAREinMIND provides access to a range of free mental health services in the north western Melbourne area, through CAREinMIND central referral, intake and assessment. See the System of Care page

  • Increased demand for CAREinMIND services

    Victorians have significant experience of the effects of bushfire on mental health. As such, we believe a sustained increase in referrals to CAREinMIND services is likely.

    Among those in need are people who have been displaced from their homes in NSW and moved to Melbourne. Many are staying in hotels in the CBD. NWMPHN is supporting their mental health through CAREinMIND and other services.

    We ask CAREinMIND service providers to prioritise referrals for these displaced families, but without putting existing clients at risk. We also ask providers to increase their availability to accept any of these referrals, particularly providers in the CBD.

    From a triage perspective, we will be prioritising the referrals we receive for people affected by bushfires, regardless of income.

  • Using HealthPathways Melbourne to support patients affected by bushfire smoke

  • Information about bushfire smoke and masks

    The Acting Chief Medical Officer has released statements on reducing the risk of exposure to bushfire smoke and the use of masks. Visit the Department of Health website for the latest information.

  • Mental health support package to provide immediate mental health services in fire-affected communities

    The Australian Government has announced a $76 million package to fund free counselling sessions, extra Medicare and tele-health consultations, an expansion of headspace services for young Australians, and community recovery initiatives. For information, visit the Department of Health website.

  • Community Asthma Program

    The Community Asthma Program is for children aged 1–17 with asthma or Ventolin-responsive wheeze. Any health professional can refer, and self-referrals are also welcome.

    For more information or a referral form, visit the cohealth website.

Other ways you can help

Donations

Unless you are responding to a specific request for goods or services, the best thing you can do to help is to donate cash to any of the following:

If you are unable to donate cash, donating blood to the Red Cross Lifeblood is also very helpful. Visit donateblood.com.au to find a centre or make an appointment.

Have a spare bed?

Many people and their animals continue to need a place to stay. The Find A Bed website, set up in response to the 2020 bushfires, helps to connect people with a spare bed or animal accommodation with those in need.


Taking care of yourself and each other

Bushfire season is a stressful time for many people and the aftermath of this crisis is expected to continue for some time. Remember to look after yourself and those around you, and seek assistance if needed.

Wellbeing Support Services

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, grief, loss, sadness or stress, CAREinMIND Wellbeing Support Service offers free 24/7 phone or online counselling to people living, working or studying in the NWMPHN region. No referral is needed. Call 1300 096 269 or visit careinmind.com.au to access free support.