Bushfire Recovery Clinicians are reaching out

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Southern NSW LHD Bushfire Recovery Clinicians pictured L-R: Candice Jones, Erin Evans, Mark Franks, Jane Retalic and Roxanne Orford-Dunne.

COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN is working in partnership with Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and Southern NSW Local Health District to support our communities to recover and rebuild from the bushfires.

Experiences across South Eastern NSW have revealed that many people impacted by bushfires are dealing with incredibly difficult times on their own, or relying on the support of family and friends. The new Southern NSW LHD Bushfire Recovery Clinicians help people connect with the right services at the right time. They are proactively engaging with local communities and seeking bushfire-impacted families and individuals to ensure they have access to the range of supports available.

The clinicians started work in May (Queanbeyan) and June (Eurobodalla) 2020, and since that time have been building strong connections with other services, developing locally appropriate referral pathways and providing intensive support to people affected by bushfires. They also provide direct clinical contact, including psycho-education, psychosocial health promotion and cognitive behavioural techniques.

Across the region, the clinicians have received 22 referrals in Queanbeyan and 19 referrals in Eurobodalla. Many ‘one-off’ interactions (e.g. via outreach days, casual community contacts) have subsequently turned into long term work and successful client engagement.

Sleep issues (including nightmares, inability to get to sleep or stay asleep, or using substances to induce sleep when this has not previously been the norm) have been a primary reason for referral to the Bushfire Recovery Clinicians. Clients report their sleep has drastically improved, as well as their concentration, motivation, mood and feelings of distress. With improved sleep, clients have been able to focus on the other aspects of recovery from bushfires such as paperwork, insurance, and rebuilding plans, and linking with other relevant services.

The Bushfire Recovery Clinicians provide regular outreach support to:

  • Cooma: Recovery Action Point
  • Nerriga: Multi-agency outreach days (19 services in attendance)
  • Braidwood: Twice-weekly outreach to Bushfire Recovery Assistance ‘Hub’
  • Mogo: Outreach day, and soon to be a weekly clinic at Happy Hub

Other fire-affected areas will have scheduled pop-up clinics soon. The clinicians also provide home-based services when people are not able to access community health. 

Contact the Bushfire Recovery Clinicians via the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511, or pop into a local community recovery hub.