Bushfire support

Bushfires affect people in the community differently, depending on the stress or loss you or your loved ones have experienced. There are things you can do to take care of yourself and your emotional wellbeing, or that of someone you care about.

Individuals may experience many different emotional and physical reactions following an extraordinary event. Common reactions can include feeling overwhelmed, tearfulness, sleep problems and a lack of concentration or difficulty focusing. In most cases these reactions will fade over the following weeks and there are links below to supports that may help you during this time.

However, if at any time these reactions are seriously affecting your ability to participate in day to day activities, it's important to speak to your doctor about the support options available.

You can keep up to date during a disaster via ABC Radio, check NSW Transport Live Traffic if planning travel, download the Fires Near Me app or visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website, and regularly check the NSW State Emergency Service website.

The Office of Emergency Management has recently released a Bushfire Recovery Assistance guide for people impacted by bushfires. They also provide disaster relief grants to eligible individuals and families whose homes and essential household contents have been damaged or destroyed by a disaster. Find out more here.

Mental health support services
  • COORDINARE funds a number of mental health services in the region. View the full list here. We are also working to fund bushfire-specific counselling and support services. More details will be available shortly.
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FIND MORE LOCAL SUPPORT SERVICES

  • Grand Pacific Health: free face-to-face or phone counselling is available to South Eastern NSW residents through Grand Pacific Health (GPH). Call 1800 228 987.
  • Relationships Australia: grief counselling is available at Relationships Australia - Bega and Moruya offices. Call (02) 6122 7100.
  • headspace: a free service for 12-25 year olds
    • Nowra – (02) 4421 5388
    • Bega – (02) 1800 959 844
    • Wollongong – (02) 4220 7660
  • Legal Aid NSW: free legal assistance for people affected by bushfires. Call the LawAccess NSW Disaster Response Hotline on 1800 801 529.

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TALK TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST

When you are experiencing stress or worry, or feeling overwhelmed, it can help to talk about what you are going through.

Talking to people you trust can be a good source of support. If you are not comfortable doing this, there are other people that can help including your doctor.

Your doctor will also be able to advise you about online therapies and self-help options available near you.

You can also download self-help resources here or see Beyond Blue's 'Bushfires and mental health' page.

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DIGITAL MENTAL HEALTH COACH

The Clevertar app is an evidence-based approach to making positive changes in your life. If you're experiencing worries or low mood, this 12-week tailored program can help you improve how you feel.

Choose an avatar to gently guide you through the program and check in to see how you're going. Watch an introductory video here and to get started:

  • download the app by searching for 'Clevertar' in the Apple store or Google Play
  • open the app and tap 'Create Account'
  • enter the invitation code: wellbeing
  • complete the registration details and get started!

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DIGITAL MENTAL HEALTH GATEWAY

Provided by the Australian Government Department of Health, Head to Health can help you find digital mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations.

If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues, Head to Health brings together apps, online programs, online forums, phone supports, and treatment options as well as a range of digital information resources.

Visit https://headtohealth.gov.au to find out more.

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CALL A CRISIS HELPLINE

For more helplines, click here.

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OTHER TIPS TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

  • Recovery takes time - allow yourself time to process your circumstances and regain a sense of normalcy.
  • Recognise when it's getting too much - if you're feeling overwhelmed, seek extra support.
  • Talk to someone you trust - talking about your emotions can help put things into perspective.
  • Develop an action plan - decide who’s going to do what and when and write it down. Ask for help with this from others.
  • Take care of yourself - eat well, exercise and sleep. Try to get back to your normal routine. 
  • Consider professional help - if you don't feel some return to normal after four weeks, seek professional help.

Remember to call 000 in an emergency, or visit your nearest hospital emergency department for a serious illness or injury.