Health and Ageing Support for Flood Affected Australians
The Acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, expressed concern and sympathy for the victims of the Queensland flood, reiterating the Commonwealth’s continued support to health and ageing authorities in Queensland and other states affected by these unprecedented floods.
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12 January 2011
The Acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, today expressed concern and sympathy for the victims of the Queensland flood, reiterating the Commonwealth’s continued support to health and ageing authorities in Queensland and other states affected by these unprecedented floods.
“We have activated the Department of Health and Ageing National Incident Room (NIR) today to ensure we can provide support to state health authorities affected by flooding,” Mr Butler said.
“In particular, we are working with authorities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in residential and community care and we will provide additional mental health services for people experiencing trauma and loss as a result of the floods.
“We are also making sure that people whose prescriptions may have been lost in the floods can access medications from pharmacies and our Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop, is liaising with Queensland Health and other affected health authorities about public health measures.”
“Also this evening, Professor Bishop will convene a ‘GP Round Table’ together with primary care peak bodies representing doctors and nurse to discuss the ongoing primary care needs of the flood-affected regions.”
Mr Butler said many people in aged care accommodation have been evacuated in Queensland and the Department of Health and Ageing is liaising with residential and community aged care services and relevant state authorities in flood-affected areas to ensure that residents are safe, and to confirm the availability of staff, services and supplies.
“Depending on their location and support requirements, residents have been relocated to their families, local hospitals or to locations as directed by the State Emergency Service,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler also indicated the government was also offering increased access to mental health services for flood victims.
"No doubt there will be lasting mental health ramifications for some residents in the flood affected areas who may have experienced loss or trauma," Mr Butler said.
"Trauma reactions to natural disasters, such as floods, may occur immediately after the event or in the weeks and months following, and some people will require ongoing mental health support.
"The Gillard Government is working closely with the Queensland Government and we will ensure there is increased capacity for primary mental health care services under the existing Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) initiative. This will complement emergency and specialist mental health services provided by the Queensland Government.”
Under the ATAPS initiative, Divisions of General Practice are funded to deliver psychological services at no or low cost to patients. ATAPS services and Medicare-based mental health services under the Better Access Initiative are already available to flood impacted Queenslanders through existing funding arrangements.
Most people will recover naturally from traumatic events but it is important that people experiencing emotional distress talk to friends, family or professionals. In addition to ATAPS and Better Access, telephone based compassionate counselling for anyone experiencing distress as a result of the floods is available through services such as Lifeline, Mensline Australia and Kids Helpline.
“The Commonwealth has also been able to assist Queensland residents who may have lost their medication prescriptions,” Mr Butler said.
“In consultation with the Pharmacy Guild we are putting in place arrangements where people can have continued access to PBS medicines, even without a script.
"There are, of course, broader public health implications from the risk of drowning, contaminated water, contaminated food, vector borne diseases and cuts and abrasions and Queensland Health has issued some practical guidelines for the community and the Commonwealth will provide any support to assist the Queensland effort as required.”
Important contact details:
- For Aged Care inquiries, call the Department of Health and Ageing on 1800 550 552
- For public health information contact Queensland Health on 13HEALTH (13432584)
- Lifeline can be contacted on 13 11 14 or via the website at www.lifeline.org.au
- Kids Help Line can be contacted on 1800 55 1800
- Mensline Australia can be contacted on 1300 789978
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