Bushfire information and support

Bushfire information and support

Murray PHN’s thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by Australia’s bushfires.

Our teams have been actively working to support general practices and health services located in bushfire affected communities in our region.

Due to our established relationships with the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV), the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Health Primary Health Care branch, we have been helping to coordinate information sharing about service arrangements, issues and needs and importantly to ensure that efforts are integrated and tailored to each community.

Offer or request workforce assistance

It's wonderful that people want to help in times of crisis but efforts must be coordinated, to reduce risks and maintain safety. The best way to get involved is to not present to evacuation centres but to register your interest.

The Department of Health and Human Services has appointed RWAV to act as the health workforce coordination agency to recruit, engage and supply clinical staff to provide relief for existing staff and fill vacancies during the bushfires.

RWAV are also helping to coordinate any offers of assistance from medical practitioners, nurses, allied health and other health professionals who can assist in hospitals, regional aged care and community health care centres. Click here for more information and to register.

Murray PHN also has a role in helping to collect the details of health professional's in our region who are happy to volunteer during times of emergency. Click here to register.

Individuals can also help in many ways click here for ideas on how you can get involved.

Responsible reporting of bushfires

Media professionals are asked to promote help seeking and trauma support resources in their coverage of the bushfires and to ensure responsible reporting, that is, being sensitive to interviewees and their audience, and seeking expert advice for comment. Click here for resources.

Health concerns

Air quality continues to remain a concern. Note that P2 masks are not recommended for general community use and should be limited to those vunerable and at risk of significant health effect of smoke - click here for more information

Rainwater tanks can be contaminated by debris, ash, dead animals, aerial fire retardants and water-bombing. Bottled water should be used if there are concerns about the quality of the drinking water.

Other bushfire related symptoms may include: dehydration and heat exhaustion, burns, respiratory, cardiovascular and renal health conditions.

People experiencing physical health concerns are encouraged to seek medical advice.

Mental health support

It's normal for a traumatic event to affect you emotionally, even if you are not directly affected these events can re-trigger previous memories and emotions. This may even happen weeks or months after.

Murray PHN has taken immediate steps to help support our North East Victorian communities. This includes implementing changes to access and eligibility criteria for primary mental health and psychosocial recovery services that can be accessed through your local GP.

We have also engaged APMHA HealthCare to provide free counselling services and advice options. This service is available between 9am-6pm Monday to Friday by calling 1300 514 811. Click here for more information and here to visit AMPHA HealthCare's bushfire webpage.

More support will be made available to north east communities through The Federal Government's $76 million bushfire relief package that was announced on 12 January 2020. Murray PHN has been allocated almost $2 million that will be used to fund additional mental health nurses, bushfire trauma coordinators and community grants in the north east region.

Information for individuals

If you are in or near a bushfire affected area, keep up-to-date with the latest developments by downloading the Vic Emergency app or visiting the Country Fire Authority Victoria: warnings and incidents, the NSW Fires Near Me website or app, or by tuning into your local ABC radio.

Note that all health practices in the affected regions are now operating normal working hours.

The following relief centres are still open in the North East region:

  • Towong Shire Library/Offices, 76 Hanson Street Corryong
  • Latchford Barracks, Bonegilla Road Bandiana for relief accomodation only

Information centres:

  • Performing Arts Centre Ford Street Wangaratta - by appointment only
  • Alpine Shire Council Myrtleford Library, O’Donnell Avenue Myrtleford

Sourced from: http://emergency.vic.gov.au/relief/#relief_and_recovery_centres

For more support:

For assistance

Information for health professionals

For treating evacuees and holiday makers who are not your regular patients or for whom you cannot access medical records, My Health Record and SafeScript can be valuable sources of health information, including medicines and allergies.

For more support:

Page last updated 28 January 2020