BUSHFIRE RELIEF: With Corryong Health chief executive Dominic Sandilands at a community meeting on January 12.

MEDIA STATEMENT

Helen Haines MP has welcomed today’s $23.4 million Victorian government commitment to fund mental health, professional support and community education programs for people in bushfire-affected communities.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi said the Upper Murray and Alpine Valleys fires in January had caused widespread emotional stress.

“So many in our communities have to process what has happened during these bushfires and undertake the massive effort to rebuild,” Dr Haines said.

“Many farming families, small business owners and managers have to cope with income loss and some with job loss, including staff.

“They also have to navigate new and often confronting processes to secure financial support.

“This announcement by the Victorian government recognises our communities’ long-term mental health needs.

“The funding will enable specialist support to be provided for doctors and community health clinicians in these communities.

“It also funds practical, community-based education programs to help people to recognise when others might need support.”

Dr Haines said the Victorian announcement added significantly to mental health services available to fire-affected communities in recovery.

She said she had arranged for Corryong Health and Walwa Bush Nursing Centre staff to meet with federal Health Minister Greg Hunt in Corryong on January 15, where the Minister committed $500,000 to fund the appointment of mental health workers in the region.

“This funding, to be delivered through the Murray Primary Health Network, will enable mental health support to be extended in Corryong, Tallangatta and smaller, nearby communities,” Dr Haines said.

“The Minister advised that transport costs would be included in this funding to allow mental health workers to visit remote patients.

“I have asked him for an update on these initiatives, and ways to allow services like Walwa Bush Nursing Centre to support nearby communities in NSW, so our Upper Murray can get on with recovery.”

[March 11, 2020]

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