Health Care Support After Floods is Critical to Community Recovery

As floodwaters begin to recede and communities count the cost of the recent weather, Healthy North Coast is turning its focus toward recovery and the mental health and wellbeing of residents.

Over the past week and a half, Healthy North Coast has been working closely with the local primary care health workforce to support flood-affected communities.

Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said 11 evacuation centres were established on the North Coast during the floods. Healthy North Coast communicated daily with the emergency operations team, linking general practice, pharmacy and mental health services into the emergency response.

“The evacuation centres supported people with a range of health needs,” Ms Sturgess said. “We know that many in our communities will now be working through a long recovery process.”

She said that at the State Emergency Service’s Port Macquarie evacuation centre, Healthy North Coast provided a clinical psychologist to support first responder volunteers.

“We also have a Healthy Minds program that has been updated to provide priority psychological support for people in flood-affected areas without the need for GP referral,” Ms Sturgess said.

“The program is free, with up to 10 sessions available. Residents can call Connect to Wellbeing on 1300 160 339 who will be able to help people enrol in the program. Importantly, health professionals as well as community members can access Healthy Minds support.”

Connect to Wellbeing also has online and print resources around mental health recovery after a disaster.

Ms Sturgess said that in coming months, ongoing mental health support would be available through telehealth and face-to-face sessions for residents affected by flooding.

“Floods can affect everyone in the community, not only people directly dealing with loss of property or possessions,” she said.

“We will continue to work closely with our primary care workforce and communities to support their immediate, short- and long-term recovery needs.”

At the beginning of the week, Healthy North Coast also launched a 24-hour GP telehealth service to support people who are unable to arrange a visit or access telehealth from their regular GP.

Residents in flood-affected areas can phone the service on 1800 931 158 to organise a phone or video appointment any day of the week.

Healthy North Coast has also arranged temporary exemption from the Australian Government requirement that GPs can only perform telehealth if they have an established clinical relationship with the patient.

This means that people in flood-impacted areas can also access a telehealth appointment with a local GP even if they are not a regular patient of the practice. People can use the postcode checker on our website  to find out if they are eligible.

Some local general practices may also be offering extended opening hours over the coming days — contact your local GP if you need to make an appointment.

Healthy North Coast funds Connect to Wellbeing through the North Coast Primary Health Network program, an Australian Government initiative. It is not a crisis service. For immediate 24/7 support contact:

  • Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 
  • NewAccess (developed by Beyond Blue) 1300 224 636
  • Kids Helpline (for children under 12 years) 1800 551 800 
  • headspace (for young adults aged 12 – 25) 1800 650 890 
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

In an emergency call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Contact for more Information

Zoe Satherley (Mon-Wed)

Phone: 0428 623 093

Mike Hely (Wed-Fri)

Phone: 0437 978 473

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Mental Health Practitioner Directory

Frequently Asked Questions

Any AHPRA or AASW registered mental health practitioner providing services in the Mid North Coast and/or Northern NSW.

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