The NSW Nationals in the state government will fast-track access to essential trauma and recovery services to communities hardest hit by the recent flooding as part of a $25 million investment.
The package will provide mental health support to people in flood-affected communities across the state to help them get through the recovery as they begin to rebuild.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the investment will have an initial focus on communities across the Northern Rivers, with other areas likely to be included as the full impact of the floods becomes clearer.
“The task before us is complex and extensive. People’s mental health will not only be affected by the floods but by the enormity of the clean-up effort and the uncertainty it brings,” Mr Toole said.
“To ensure the mental health recovery effort is as coordinated, responsive and targeted as possible, we’ll work with Headspace and Lifeline to manage the response, with local input sourced from the community and local health networks.”
NSW Health will support the immediate mental health needs of the Northern NSW community by deploying mental health clinicians from Northern NSW, Mid North Coast and Northern Sydney Local Health Districts.
Teams from Hunter New England and Western NSW Local Health Districts are also being prepared to travel to northern NSW to assist.
Nationals Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said $5 million in grants will be allocated to non-government organisations to deliver local trauma and recovery programs so support is available long after the clean-up has finished.
“It is locals who know their community best, and that is why we want them to play an active role in developing initiatives and programs that will help their communities in their road to recovery,” Mrs Taylor said.
“We are also funding ten full-time Local Recovery Coordinators to be our eyes and ears on the ground to monitor the local mental health impacts, as well as help services better connect with people most in need.”
Nationals Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said the devastating floods will have a lasting impact on affected communities and the emergency services personnel who responded.
“Please take care of yourselves and look out for each other because the impacts of this devastating flood and the ongoing cleanup efforts will be felt by those affected for weeks, months and in the years ahead,” Ms Cooke said.
Key highlights of the Wellbeing Package include:
- $7 million over three years to fund Primary Health Networks to engage both clinical and non-clinical workforce, including staff for the Safe Havens, to boost local access to psychological and clinical support;
- $5 million over three years to establish grants program for NGOs to fund trauma-based programs. Key focus on supporting young people, older residents and Aboriginal communities;
- $5 million for state-wide needs based resourcing and support;
- $3.5 million over three years to appoint Headspace and Lifeline work with affected communities to identify what each community needs;
- $3.5 million over three years to recruit 10 Local Recovery Coordinators to:
- Coordinate mental health service delivery within their designated LGA, ensuring service providers are working with each other to plug gaps but also avoid duplication;
- Identify and respond to emerging issues, such as increases in mental health hospital activity, self-harm or suicidal ideation;
- Work closely with primary health initiatives, community and welfare agencies and mental health services to provide direct care and respond to local community needs and issues on the ground.
- $1 million to set up four pop-up Safe Havens in the areas hardest hit. Safe Havens are a place for people experiencing suicidal thoughts or in distress to seek refuge and support from people with lived experience. The space is welcoming and has a range of activities to help people divert their suicidal thinking. No referral is required to access a Safe Haven.
The NSW Government’s initial $25 million in mental health support will also be complimented by the Commonwealth Government’s mental health support package, and further mental health and well-being support will be provided to flood-affected communities across NSW as part the recovery process.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
- NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511