01/06/2020 | Stephen Wade MLC | Better Services

A new targeted mental health and wellbeing assistance is being rolled out to all residents of South Australia’s bushfire-affected areas.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the $2.61 million package builds on the initial response to provide support for long-term recovery in the Adelaide Hills, Yorketown and Kangaroo Island communities which were severely impacted by the summer bushfires.

The funding will support partnerships with NGOs and philanthropic organisations to provide programs and support.

Small community grants will also be available to support mental health and wellbeing projects within the communities affected by bushfires.

“These targeted community supports will be offered over four years to ensure better mental health and wellbeing for all communities impacted by the summer’s fires,” Minister Wade said.

"Importantly, this initiative, led by Wellbeing SA, is being developed in close partnership with the impacted communities using a community co-design process.

“The new program will utilise education, training and network building to support the medium to long-term recovery of bushfire impacted communities.

“We know from national and international disaster research that recovery from a crisis can take years, and that close friends and family, social networks and community groups are important influences on both resilience and recovery.

“This package draws on best practice and, by working in close partnership with the affected communities, determine the most effective, meaningful ways to find solutions that are right for them.

“Now more than ever, it’s vital that we support and strengthen the resilience of our communities. We bring our past, we need to make sure we get through the current situation and we need to be ready to withstand future events and shocks.

The roll out reiterates the Marshall Liberal Government’s more than $420 million commitment to mental health this year and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the residents of bushfire affected areas through their mental, social, financial and physical recovery.

Wellbeing SA Chief Executive Lyn Dean said research had shown there were higher rates of mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse and suicide in communities which experience a disaster, specifically bushfires.

“Anyone impacted by the fires can be at risk – not just those with existing mental health issues – and this initiative is designed for 100 per cent of the population in the fire-affected areas, to try to avoid them developing mental health issues as a result of the bushfires,” she said.

“A co-design approach with each local community will develop local solutions, in the process helping to build community networks, knowledge and capacity to strengthen and maintain mental health, wellbeing and resilience long after the bushfires.”

Anyone needing support can contact 1300 032 186 or visit saregionalaccess.org.au and follow the links for online counselling.