Bushfire Response

Bushfire Recovery Access Program

Supporting individuals and communities affected by 2019-2020 bushfires

Mental health support

Country SA PHN’s role as part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive bushfire recovery package will be to provide immediate, short-term and medium-term mental health support for individuals, families and communities, including emergency services personnel, impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Support for targeted regions

The Bushfire Recovery Access Program is aimed to support individuals and communities affected by the 2019-20 bushfires. CSAPHN is one of 12 PHNs funded to offer supports and services to targeted regions that have suffered severe damage and loss.

Long term community wellbeing

CSAPHN has commissioned local providers to ensure affected communities have access to the coordinated and tailored support to give people the best chance of full mental health recovery. We are committed to planning beyond the initial emergency and working towards the longer term recovery and wellbeing of our communities and regions.


For further information on the Bushfire Response program, please contact the Bushfire Response Coordinator.

Sally Patten

Bushfire Response Coordinator

Bushfire Program Objectives

Australian Government’s Mental Health Support for Bushfire Affected Australians

  • Ten free mental health support sessions for individuals, families and emergency services personnel;
  • Support engagement of a Bushfire Trauma Response Coordinator by PHNs in the severely impacted bushfire regions who will be a single point of contact for individuals & communities to ensure that the right mental supports are offered;
  • Expand mental health services in bushfire-affected PHNs to meet local need;
  • Support the commissioning of small community grants that fund activities that help mental health; and
  • Manage increased demand at specified headspace services in areas significantly impacted by bushfires to ensure support for young people aged 12 to 25.
Contact Us

Bushfire Grant Recipients

Those awarded grants for 2020

Round 1 – March 2020

  • WoTL Kangaroo Island
  • WoTL Cudlee Creek
  • Kingston District Council
  • Lifeline Broken Hill
  • Adelaide Festival Centre
  • Kangaroo Island Couch Choir

Round 2  - October 2020

  • Mt Barker Community Centre
  • Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation
  • Charleston Tennis Club
  • Yorketown Progress Association
  • St Columba’s Memorial School

  • SYP Community Hub ($4,000.00)
  • Yorketown Community Children’s Centre
  • Women Together Learning (WoTL) – Cuddlee Creek
  • Women Together Learning (WoTL) – Kangaroo Island
  • Junction Australia Yorketown Playgroup Playgroup SA – Lobethal
  • Agriculture Kangaroo Island

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Grant Enquiries

For all grant enquiries please contact us.

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Frontline Distress and Trauma Counselling

Immediate counselling for those suffering bushfire related trauma

CSAPHN has commissioned local established service providers to provide immediate counselling and other mental health services to support the needs of people experiencing distress or trauma as a result of the South Australian bushfires, including emergency response personnel.

These services will be:

  • Free of charge, offering up to ten mental health services to individuals, families and emergency personnel affected by bushfires.
  • Delivered by appropriately qualified and trained service provider organisations and clinicians.
  • Made accessible to individuals in those locations most impacted by the bushfires, including through pop up centres and recovery centres; and
  • Provided on an outreach basis in the short to medium term to ensure access by communities most impacted by the bushfires.
Regions and Providers

Frontline Distress and Trauma Counselling

Youth Mental Health supports

Mental health support for young people

Expansion of headspace services to meet the increased demand for young people aged 12-25 impacted by bushfires and support for parents to ensure they know how to support children. Additional clinical supports are now available in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island via telephone, screen to screen and or face to face.

Self-referrals are welcome or can be provided by a GP, school and or other service providers (No Mental Health Treatment Plan is required). CSAPHN also continues to fund Regional Access which provides 24/7 non-emergency counselling services for people in rural settings, particularly those affected by the bushfires non-emergencies.

Kangaroo Island Community Couch Choir

A tribute to resilience and community spirit on Kangaroo Island, 2020.​


Watch Video

Together We Can

Helping communities recover from bushfires

'Together We Can’ is a project supported by Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (MACCHS) through Country SA PHN Federal Bushfire funding.

The project provides the students of Kangaroo Island Community Education (KICE) the opportunity to come together to connect, share and continue healing through writing and performing original songs based on their own personal stories of the 2019-2020 bushfires and ongoing recovery.

Under the guidance of Pete and Kerry from STAMP Music who worked closely with Diana, Georgie and Ros from MACCHS and Maxine and her staff at KICE, the students have been able to put into words their incredibly challenging and unique lived experiences of the bushfires and COVID-19. Country SA PHN is proud to be able to support grass roots community based initiatives such as this. Listen to the End of Year Christmas Event here.

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Where we belong celebration

Watch the video about the Together We Can project

Watch Video

ANZAC DAY - Resilience concert

Helping communities recover from bushfires

The Anzac Day Resilience Concert at the fire-affected Western Districts Community Club was a wonderful way of bringing together community, talented locals and a band who has the Anzac spirit.

Getting together as an island community to celebrate their successes over the last 15 months since faced with such adversity and be proud of the achievements of many in the community hard-hit with bushfires and COVID-19. It was a night to forget any problems, take a break from clean up & rebuild and let their hair down.

Where we belong celebration

Watch the video of the Kangaroo Island ANZAC DAY - Resilience concert

Watch Video

Headspace service providers

Better Access
Bushfire recovery

10 mental health treatment services for the bushfire affected

Medicare benefits

From 17 January, you will be able to get Medicare benefits for up to 10 mental health treatment services if:

  • your patients have been impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires
  • your patient is the first responder or emergency management employee or volunteer who worked during the 2019-2020 bushfires.

No GP referral required

To make it as simple and fast as possible to access the new items, individuals do not need to have a GP referral or mental health treatment plan, but can seek appointments directly with suitable GPs, psychologists, and other eligible mental health professionals.

Sessions are available until 31 December 2021. They are in addition to the 10 psychological therapy sessions currently available under the existing Better Access Program.

Mental health support

Find out more about this initiative

Visit Services Australia


Better Access Bushfire Recovery Telehealth Initiative

The new Bushfire Recovery and telehealth Medicare items will apply to all Australians, including children, young people, adults, seniors, and frontline emergency personnel who were residents of, working in, or visiting a bushfire affected region.

The expanded telehealth Initiative will allow people in rural and remote areas affected by bushfires to receive Medicare rebated counselling and psychological support through video telehealth services. This will also allow eligible GPs to deliver mental health and wellbeing support via telehealth.

Services Australia

Visit the Services Australia for up-to-date information:

Visit Site
Key Dates

January 2020

Government support provided to those affected by bushfires

December 2021

Services can be accessed from now until 31 December 2021

Immediate free counselling

Free counselling for the bushfire affected

For patients wanting to know how they can access the free counselling in bushfire affected communities (without the need for a referral or mental health plan), there are several avenues:

  • On the ground, patients can access free counselling sessions by visiting your nearest recovery centre (Lobethal Recovery Centre or Parndana Recovery Centre), Mobile Services Centre and mental health services commissioned by Primary Health Networks
  • Contact Services Australia 180 22 66 to either speak with a social worker or find out how to locate and access support in your community
  • All information about the mental health supports, and how to access these in fire affected communities can be found on the Human Services website which is updated regularly
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Community Resilience Officer (CRO)

Commonwealth funded Community wellbeing and participation funding is being used to increase the delivery of non-clinical supports in fire affected communities based on the needs of the local regions. In order to effectively determine these needs, Country SA PHN has worked collaboratively with local government, National Bushfire Recovery Agency, Non-Government Organisations and Bushfire Recovery Groups to identify non-clinical, community-based activities to support mental health and community wellbeing.  

Community Resilience Officer (CRO) positions have been recruited across all four bushfire impacted locations to deliver these community driven, co-designed projects: 

Adelaide Hills  ‘Community Resilience and Readiness Program’ - Located at Adelaide Hills Council 
Kangaroo Island  ‘KI - From Recovery to Community’ - Located at Junction Australia (Kangaroo Island) 
Keilira (South East) ‘Recovery Starts Here’ - located Kingston Council  
Yorke Peninsula ‘Developing a Disaster Resilience in the YP Communities’ - located SYP Hub (auspice by Yorke Peninsula Council)  

Each respective project will focus on psychological preparation and community resilience building with the aim to reduce or positively influence the potential mental and emotional impacts of future natural disasters and traumas.

Key roles of the CRO’s are , but not limited to;

  • Provide an ongoing coordinated approach to recovery and resilience for the affected communities by providing linkages between community and services providers
  • Provide recovery-based training, education and support by leading experts based on community need to community groups and parents, educators, first responders, primary producers and community leaders to improve psychological preparedness and resilience of individuals and groups
  • Participate in relevant Local, State and National bushfire recovery meetings as required to ensure a local voice is present
  • Act as a conduit to connect relevant preparedness training programs and organisations to specific groups of people, as well as provide education and training to fill current disaster preparedness programs and gaps in support.
  • Facilitate preparedness and resilience training sessions and events, as well as collaborate with organisations such as the CFS and Red Cross who offer connection to community and logistical support
  • Collaboratively co-design localised solutions for each respective township and surrounding districts to improve understanding around psychological and physical preparedness.
  • Increase the number of Mental Health and Wellbeing resources available to the impacted and surrounding communities

For further information please contact the Community Resilience Officers located in the following locations:

Helpful Links

Call one of the services below

Please see our helpful resources below. If you still have questions, feel free to reach out to