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In this edition:
  • Contingencies to support Bushfire Recovery 
  • Links and contacts for health professionals wishing to support victims of the bushfires
  • Consultations on the SA Healthpathways Osteoarthritis pathway underway
 Message from the CEO

Here at SARRAH we share our national office space with CRANAplus, with whom we also share a commitment to supporting the rural health workforce. Members will have seen the email we sent mid-week with information about Bush Support Services, available to all rural and remote health professionals. Bush Support Services are also offering SARRAH members a hard copy pack of their resources, including self-care booklets and journals.  Alternatively the resources are available digitally on a memory stick.  If you are interested in receiving these resources (at no cost), members are advised to contact or order through the CRANAplus website here.  

Something else SARRAH members may find useful is the BSS Mindfulness Monday newsletter. This email arrives each Monday from BSS Senior Clinical Psychologist Dr Annmaree Wilson, and includes a useful message and practical advice regarding the use of mindfulness to build resilience and mitigate the stresses associated with working in a rural or remote context. It is enormously popular and registration is open to all.

Other programs to watch out for include the supports around trauma-informed care and coordination. Training in trauma-informed care and psychological first aid will be provided to frontline emergency staff as well as to organisations managing frontline emergency staff to identify personnel at risk. Evidence based training will be developed and delivered by organisations with expertise in trauma informed care. Training will be co-designed with Primary Health Networks (PHN), Services Australia and state and territory government services. The training will be rolled out immediately and progressively over the next six months.

In addition, Australia’s bushfire trauma response coordinators, employed by PHNs, will be the single point of contact for individuals and communities to ensure the right mental health supports are offered in the right place at the right time. The coordinators will support Services Australia recovery staff by providing up-to-date information and mental health services in the region. The coordinators will also prioritise distress counselling services for affected individuals and families within treatment services. The bushfire trauma response coordinator support will take immediate effect.

I encourage SARRAH members to get in touch with their local Primary Health Network to access many of the supports being made available to health professionals and to communities.

Stay safe,
Bushfire Recovery Access Program

The Commonwealth government has put in place a range of provisions to support the bushfire recovery. The Bushfire Recovery Access Program offers free counselling and additional mental health support for individuals, families and emergency services workers affected by the bushfires.

Free counselling is available to anyone affected by the bushfires. For further information contact the Mobile Service Centres, Mobile Servicing Teams, recovery and evacuation centres or your local Primary Health Network.

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.
The CRANAplus Bush Support Service is a free and confidential telephone counselling service specifically for rural and remote area health professionals and their families.You don’t have to be a mem­ber of CRANAplus to utilise this service. Call 1800 805 391 toll free for confidential support.

Better Access Bushfire Recovery Initiative

From 17 January, people affected by the bushfires will be able to 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.

These arrangements will be in place between 17 January 2020 and 31 December 2021. They’re in addition to the 10 psychological therapy sessions currently available under the existing Better Access Program

Better Access Bushfire Recovery Telehealth initiative

Additional telehealth items are now available for people in rural or remote areas to access counselling and support services. Medicare benefits are available for this service. The telehealth initiative also provides for GPs to use telehealth videoconferencing to offer mental health and wellbeing support. These services are accessible from now until 31 December 2021.

For further information about all of these services, visit the Department of Human Services website, Disaster Assist, or the CRANAplus Bush Support Service page.

Community Grants to help Communities Recover

Community connectedness and recovery grants of up to $10,000 will be available to fund grass-roots level activities to help mental health and healing activities after the bushfires. These activities will promote peer support, with local residents helping each other and reaching out to others to identify those who are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, and prevent suicides. Each Primary Health Network covering a fire affected region will be given funding for community grants and will administer the grants. Grants will be distributed over the next 12 months.

Further information about these supports is available here.

Links for Health Professionals supporting health care in bushfire-affected communities

Volunteering Opportunities

The Federal Government has put in place emergency protocols to expedite the process of getting GPs and allied health professionals to bushfire-affected communities where they are needed most.

The Department of Health and Department of Human Services will prioritise all applications from health professionals who want to work in bushfire-affected communities. Allied health professionals can work at a new practice for up to two weeks using their existing Medicare provider number. 

Health professionals wishing to offer support to bushfire affected areas should contact their relevant Rural Workforce Agency (RWA):

People wishing to provide supplies and assistance are advised to direct their enquiries to the relevant state government.  Financial donations are preferred at this point, as services have been overwhelmed with donated clothing and household goods.  Donations can be directed to the relevant organisation in their state:

  • The Victorian Bushfire Appeal;
  • The NSW Fire Service; or 
  • The State Emergency Relief Fund (SA)
Emerging Minds: Community Trauma Toolkit
This toolkit contains resources to help and support adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event. It will help you understand some of the impacts of disaster and how you can help lessen these impacts.
Allied Health NDIS Registration Support - Helpful Information

Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission have developed resources to support allied health professionals to register with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  The resources are free for anyone to access.

Check out the resources on AHPA's website here.

HealthPathways South Australia Osteoarthritis Pathway - Feedback and Consultations

HealthPathways SA is seeking public feedback and consultation for their Osteoarthritis Pathway. Those wishing to provide feedback can sign up to HealthPathways or use their existing account. Consultations close on Friday 31 January and can be accessed and completed on their website here.

Other News

Social Security (Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment-SA Bushfires) Determination
The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (the AGDRP) provides an immediate, one-off payment to Australians adversely affected by a major disaster. Further information is available here.

Ongoing hazardous air pollution exposes need for whole of government response to protect health
People continuing to work, exercise and move around outdoors without appropriate protection during 'hazardous' levels of air pollution from bushfire smoke exposes the need for governments to do more to protect people's health, the Climate and Health Alliance has said this week. The group has called for a whole of government response to the health risks posed by bushfire smoke air pollution, including the possibility of text alerts and the supply of free P2/N95 face masks to all affected communities. "There is no safe level of air pollution. The higher the level of pollution, the more hazardous the risks to people's health, yet many people are unaware of these risks or what to do about them," Climate and Health Alliance Executive Director Fiona Armstrong said on Wednesday.

Plan International Australia releases guide to talking to children about bushfires & disasters
Plan International Australia has launched a guide to help parents talk with their children about out-of-control fires and disasters. The How to talk to your kids about out-of-control fires guide, co-authored by child psychologist Karen Young, offers parents simple and practical tips on how to support children who may be distressed by fires, sirens and emergency personnel nearby or news reports on television about fires in Australia. Research from the Australian Catholic University has shown that between 7% and 45% of children suffer depression, anxiety or distress after experiencing a natural disaster. Since bushfire season began unusually early in August, children have watched on as more than 10 million hectares have burned and more than a billion precious wildlife have perished.

Health and wellbeing feature strongly in latest Australia Council for the Arts grants
Creative projects focused on ageing, mental health and connecting Australians are among the works funded by the Australia Council. The Australia Council’s latest grant round invests $6.5 million in 186 projects, to be delivered by 131 individual artists or groups, and 55 small to medium arts organisations. Australia Council Executive Director, Grants and Engagement, Frank Panucci explained that, combined with high artistic quality, many of the projects funded in this round have a strong community focus. "Around one-third of the successful applicants nominated audience engagement or access and participation in the arts as primary outcomes of their project, reflecting the Australia Council’s strategic aim of connecting Australians through creativity," he said.

Deakin establishes new Bushfire Relief Residential Scholarships
Deakin University has established a new accommodation scholarship to help current and commencing students impacted by the bushfires. Up to 25 Bushfire Relief Residential Scholarships, each worth around $12,000, are now available and will cover the yearly cost of student accommodation. Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said Bushfire Relief Residential Scholarship are available at all Deakin campuses, in Burwood, Geelong (Waterfront and Waurn Ponds) and Warrnambool, to ensure impacted students can continue or commence their studies this year. "As the bushfire crisis continues in many parts of Victoria and Australia, it is clear that the consequences of the terrible devastation will be with all of us for many years to come," Professor Martin said.

Be a presenter at Compass 2020
The Compass Teaching & Learning Conference is the premier professional development and networking event for people working in primary health care in the Northern Territory.  Compass 2020 is taking place on 14-15 August 2020 at the Darwin Convention Centre.  Abstract submissions close on Monday 10 February.  For more information, go to the NT PHN website


SARRAH 2020 National Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference

The Organising Committee is delighted to present the SARRAH 2020 National Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference.

Hosted by SARRAH since 1995, this biennial conference is for all involved in regional, rural and remote allied health.

The Organising Committee invites you to Townsville

  • to hear a range of eminent speakers,
  • to join us as we share stories to shape the future success for remote, rural and regional allied health, and
  • to celebrate 25 years of SARRAH networking, advocacy and events.
We look forward to sharing our beautiful city with you in 2020.
Current Job Vacancies
Allied Health Team Leader - Allied Health Western, Allied Health Division, Location negotiable, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service. Are you a conscientious and caring Allied Health Team Leader who can provide leadership and direction to the Allied Health team, Western?

Physiotherapist - Rural Workforce Agency Norther Territory (RWA NT) are partnering with Alice Springs Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic to find a Physiotherapist to join their multi-disciplinary team. Alice Springs Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic was established in 1994 and has continued to develop and provide excellence in Physiotherapy services and other Health Services to the population of Alice Springs and surrounding areas.

Upcoming Events and conferences


eHealth@Sydney 2020

11th February, 2020

The University of Sydney

Charles Perkins Centre, Lecture Theatre
John Hopkins Dr, Camperdown NSW 2006

Universities Australia Conference 2020

25-27 February 2020

National Convention Centre in Canberra

MARCH 2020  

Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference

30 March - 1 April 2020

Mantra Legends, Gold Coast

2020 New Zealand Mental Health Conference

16th - 17th March 2020

Christchurch, New Zealand

WA Rural Health Conference 2020

21- 22 March 2020

Pan Pacific Perth

MAY 2020  

SPA 2020 National Conference

24 – 27 May 2020

Darwin Convention Centre, NT

7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium:
Shaping the future

25-26 May 2020

Alice Springs Convention Centre, NT

JUNE 2020  

Associations Forum National Conference

22-23 June 2020

Royal International Convention Centre, Brisbane

OT Exchange 2020

22-23 June 2020

Crown Promenade Melbourne

JULY 2020  

21st International Mental Health Conference

29-31 July 2020

RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, QLD

HIC 2020

27-29 July 2020

Brisbane, QLD

AUGUST 2020  

The 2020 Workplace Mental Health Symposium

31 August-1 September 2020

Hilton, Brisbane, QLD1


OCTOBER 2020  

38th CRANAplus Conference

14-16 October 2020

QT, Canberra, ACT

Copyright © 2018 Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH). All rights reserved.

Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
Unit 4, 17 Napier Close, Deakin, ACT, 2600

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