Australia is prone to a variety of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods, severe storms and heatwaves which can have a profound impact on the population’s health and wellbeing. Primary health plays a critical role in responding to emergencies and should consider a business continuity plan in the event of a disaster.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed the Managing emergencies in general practice guide to assist practices in preparing, responding and recovering during a disaster.
The Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) has established a HELPLINE (0484 597 191) to provide administrative support for practices that have been affected by the bushfires. Phoenix Australia has also developed resources to support GPs working within bushfire affected communities.
Clinical Psychologist, David Younger, has extensive experience providing support and assistance to communities throughout Australia affected by natural disasters and emergencies. Watch the following videos for useful recommendations and practical self-care strategies:
The most effective support during a time of disaster is to consider extending practice opening hours to accommodate an increase in patient demand.
Keep up-to-date during a disaster via:
For more guidance on general practice disaster preparedness, refer to the following RACGP resources:
Following a significant event such as a natural disaster it is common for people to experience a range of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Find mental health support information at:
In a disaster, health professionals can be both the victim and the responder - remember to take care of your own health. Useful resources and services include:
Encourage community members to visit our 'Bushfire support' page at www.bushfiresupport.info to find services, mental health support options and resources.
This includes a list of COORDINARE funded mental health and suicide prevention programs.
GPs have greater flexibility to provide services to patients whose mental health is affected by bushfires. Those with additional training also have access to provide patients up to 10 face-to-face or telehealth sessions of MBS counselling. Find out more here.
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