14 January 2020


The NSW Mental Health Commission welcomes the federal government’s announcement of $76 Million to support the mental health and wellbeing of people affected by bush fires.

The newly created set of 10 Medicare rebated psychology therapy sessions without the need for a mental health plan or GP referral is particularly helpful.

Young people will be able to access help through additional headspace sites in affected areas, specialised trauma-informed training will be available for front line staff and community resilience and recovery efforts will be expanded in affected communities.

The Commission has heard that people want immediate support as well as longer-term interventions.

Alongside mental health clinicians mental health peer workers have an important role to play as a first response to people who are traumatised, encouraging them to share their story, and providing face-to-face emotional support and hope. In the longer term, peer workers can walk the recovery journey alongside people who are struggling and connect them with services where needed.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner encourages people to keep checking in with each other and asking “are you OK?”. “Some people will be in shock or denial and have feelings of guilt that could stop them from reaching out for help.

“It is heartening to see that extra support will be available for emergency service workers. Even those who are helping others need someone to check in on them, including emergency service workers, volunteers, GPs and other mental health professionals.

“Keeping the community together and connected is key to the recovery process. Social activities and sporting events can help to keep people connected and focused on positive experiences.”

Visit the Prime Minister’s media page for more information:


Interviews available with NSW Mental Health Commissioner, Catherine Lourey

Media enquiries
Joanna Durney | joanna.durney@mhc.nsw.gov.au | P: 02 9859 5217 | M: 0438 769 185

Any community members who are concerned about their own or a loved one’s mental health are encouraged to speak with trusted support services such as a family GP. Alternatively, find local services via Wayahead’s NSW Mental Health Service Directory  or call one of the following support lines:
NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

About the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales
The Mental Health Commission of NSW was established under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012 and came into operation on 1 July 2012. The Commission is an independent statutory authority established with the purpose of monitoring, reviewing and improving the mental health and wellbeing of the people of NSW. In all its work the Commission aims to reflect the experience of people with lived experience of mental health issues and caring, families and kinship groups.


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Last updated: 14 January 2020