How to get mental health support

Free counselling and additional mental health support for individuals, families and emergency services workers affected by the bushfires.

Free counselling

If you're affected by the bushfires, you can get up to 10 free counselling sessions.

The sessions can support you through the immediate trauma and crisis, through:

  • advice on distress interventions
  • coping strategies
  • social supports
  • counselling
  • family based psychological interventions.

You can speak to our social workers for immediate counselling and support. They can help organise follow-up counselling sessions at all these places:

  • Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Servicing Teams
  • recovery centres and evacuation centres
  • mental health services commissioned by Primary Health Networks.

You can also call any of the following hotlines:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

Better Access Bushfire Recovery Initiative

You can get Medicare benefits for up to 10 mental health treatment services if:

  • you or your family have been impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires
  • you’re a first responder or emergency management employee or volunteer who worked during the 2019-20 bushfires.

You don’t need to have a diagnosed mental health condition, GP referral or mental health treatment plan.

If you think you’d benefit from mental health treatment, talk to any of these:

  • GP
  • psychologist
  • occupational therapist
  • social worker.

You can get the sessions until 31 December 2021. They’re in addition to the 10 psychological therapy sessions currently available under the existing Department of Health’s Better Access Program.

Better Access Bushfire Recovery Telehealth initiative

If you live in a rural or remote area, you may not be able to easily access mental health services.

You’ll be able to get counselling and support through video telehealth services instead. You’ll get a Medicare benefit for this service.

The telehealth initiative also means you can use telehealth videoconferencing to get mental health and wellbeing support from your GP.

You can get these services from now until 31 December 2021.

Social Workers

Our social workers are travelling through fire affected areas with our Mobile Servicing Teams.

Find out where our Mobile Service Teams, including social workers will be.

You can also:

  • call 180 22 66 to ask to speak to a social worker
  • visit a Service Centre.

Find a payment

You may be eligible to claim disaster assistance. You may also be eligible for other payments and services. Use our Payment and Service Finder to check.

Page last updated: 17 January 2020