Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program continues to support disaster-affected health workers on the North Coast

Healthy North Coast is pleased to announce the opening of the second round of the Workforce Support and Wellbeing program which has been made available via Australian Government funding.

The program was initiated in 2022 to support retention of the local primary healthcare workforce after the 2022 Northern Rivers floods.

Flexible grants are available for eligible primary health care organisations and sole practitioners to support a variety of projects that assist in the preparation, response and recovery phases of disaster situations.

Developed in consultation with disaster-affected clinicians, the program is aimed toward retaining and strengthening the local primary care workforce by supporting:

  • Rest and relief for an overloaded workforce
  • Team debriefing and resilience building
  • Individual capacity to be responsive to patient needs.


Monika Wheeler, CEO of Healthy North Coast, was thrilled to announce the new round of funding:

“Some of our local communities, including Lismore and towns in the Northern Rivers, are still heavily impacted from flooding and natural disasters,” Ms Wheeler said.

“Recovery takes years, and there is still significant pressure on our local primary health care organisations and workers who are continuing to support their patients doing it tough.

“I am proud that to date no general practices in the Northern Rivers region have closed since the 2022 the floods, even though there were concerns that some would. The resilience of local practice owners, the collegiate support provided between health care professionals and support such as this initiative have all played a role in this incredible result.

“By investing in the wellbeing and preparedness of our primary care workforce, we contribute not only to the resilience of our healthcare system but also to the overall health and of our communities.”


Janelle Saffin, Member for Lismore and Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery, also acknowledged her support of the program:

“We don’t know the full impact of the 2022 disaster on the health and mental health of our community, but we do know it was huge, and that it will impact people in our region for years to come.

“It’s important that we look after our health workforce because they are also part of the community recovering from this disaster. I encourage local practitioners to apply for these grants so they can continue to respond to the particular needs of our community.”


The Workforce Support and Wellbeing program was first launched in October 2022 as part of a $2.23 million package from the Australian Government through the Primary Health Network program to assist the flood-affected Northern Rivers workforce, provide temporary business premises and support displaced local primary health care providers. This second round of funding will provide up to $500,000 of support for local practitioners through a number of workforce initiatives.


The first round of funding was able to support 1,600+ clinical and frontline staff and 110+ Northern Rivers primary health care organisations.

The feedback from local clinicians has been overwhelmingly positive.


Kyle Wood, owner and pharmacist at Southside Chempro in Lismore, explained what the funding meant to the local community:

“Like much of the Lismore community, many of our staff were directly affected by the floods. This program offers relief, rest and assistance to the health workforce in this region, while still enabling our businesses to service the community. It is very welcome and appreciated.”


To learn more about the Workforce Support and Wellbeing program and to apply for funding, visit hnc.org.au/workforce-support-and-wellbeing-program.


Funding is available until 30 June 2024.



About Healthy North Coast:


Healthy North Coast is an independent, not-for-profit organisation proudly delivering the PHN program on behalf of the Australian Government in North Coast NSW. They are committed to improving the health of their communities through quality primary health care.


They have invested over $16 million in Australian Government and NSW Government funding for flood recovery initiatives, including:

  • Resilient Kids program
  • Expansion of Prema House
  • Safe Haven Community and Wellbeing hubs
  • Head to Health program
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Flood Recovery Navigators
  • Strong Community program
  • Community Wellbeing and Resilience program
  • Workforce Infrastructure grants
  • Workforce Support and Wellbeing program
  • Lismore Primary Health Precinct
  • Building disaster readiness


Healthy North Coast is working collaboratively with primary health care professionals, the Local Health Districts and NSW emergency services to prepare for future disasters in our region. When services work together collaboratively communities get the support they need.

Contact for media enquiries

Sam Brunning

Phone: 0439 968 437

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Aged Care Disaster Management Planning

Strategic Priority Area: One team

North Coast is identified as the region most likely to be impacted by climate change in Australia and also forecasted greatest growth in those 65+.

Healthy North Coast takes a lead role in ensuring the older population and the sector that supports them are prepared for, can respond to and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

We have led eight regional disaster management capacity building workshops, bringing together SES, community organisations and the aged care sector.

We have also developed disaster preparedness tip sheets for both residential and community aged care providers.

Voluntary Assisted Dying

Strategic Priority Area: One team

In May 2022, the NSW Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022. Effective from Tuesday, 28 November 2023, eligible people have the choice to access voluntary assisted dying. 

Healthy North Coast has developed a webpage for both health professionals and consumers, with links to available information and resources.

Living with Dementia resources

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

Healthy North Coast has worked with people living with dementia, their families and local service providers to develop an information booklet that will help them connect with local and national supports along their journey.

The booklet includes commonly asked questions for people to ask their GP and/or specialist.

The resource is available in digital and printed copies, with more than 5,000 distributed across the region. An e-version is available to clinicians via the Dementia and Cognitive Impairment HealthPathway.

Deteriorating Resident Triage Tool Pilot

Strategic Priority Area: One team

The Deteriorating Resident Response Tool (DRRT) has been developed to guide RN’s in Residential Aged Care homes (RACHs) to better understand, anticipate and make clinical decisions responding to the deteriorating health of residents.

The objective of the DRRT is to give RACH staff clear information to triage and provide appropriate care for a range of residents’ health conditions, and, in turn, prevent unnecessary presentations to ED.

The tool has been designed together with a specialist geriatrician, consulting with stakeholders such as Residential Aged Care Managers, NSW Ambulance, GPs, and experts from Mid and North Coast LHDs.

The pilot commences in March with four participating RACHs. Evaluation measures will include effectiveness in building RN confidence and reported reduction in unnecessary hospitalisations. Findings will inform a future planned, region-wide implementation.

North Coast Care Finders Program

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

The Care Finders program is a free region-wide service to support vulnerable older people who have no-one else to help them, to learn about, apply for and set up support services.

Care finders can help people understand what aged care services are available, set up an assessment, and find and choose services. They also help people with access to other supports in the community, both accessing services for the first time and changing or finding new services and supports.

On the North Coast, Healthy North Coast has commissioned four organisations to provide this important service: EACH, Carexcell, Lifetime Connect and Footprints.

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Psychological services in residential aged care homes

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Healthy North Coast commissions two service providers to deliver psychological therapies and supports for older people with, or at risk of developing, a mental illness and who are living in residential aged care homes (RACHs).

The aim of the program is to both provide direct support to residents and their families and carers, as well as upskill the RACH workforce to respond to the needs of residents presenting with mental health concerns.

Social prescribing (Healthy Me Healthy Community)

Strategic Priority Area: Securing a Healthier Future

Delivered by Feros Care, the Healthy Me, Healthy Community program aims to build individual and community connections to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing in Port Macquarie.

The program helps people to connect with community, activities, supports and services that address their broader social determinants of health, as an alternative or supplement to a clinical approach.

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Digital Health in Residential Aged Care

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Timely access to primary health care professionals, whether through face-to-face consultation or telehealth, is recognised as an issue for many Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs), that in some cases can lead to potentially preventable hospitalisations. RACHs require adequate telehealth facilities to support access to virtual consultations for their residents.

Project goals

  • Assist participating RACHs to have appropriate telehealth facilities and equipment to enable their residents to virtually consult when needed with their primary health care professionals, specialists and other clinicians. 
  • Provide training to participating RACH staff to support them to have the capabilities to assist their residents in accessing virtual consultation services.
  • Encourage increased use of My Health Record by RACHs, to improve the availability and secure transfer of resident’s health care information between RACHs, primary care and acute care settings.
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Greater Choice at Home Palliative Care Program

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Aims to provide people who have life limiting conditions the opportunity to exercise choice and receive high quality care at home, harnessing improved and better coordinated supports and services that meet their individual needs.

Program objectives:

  • Improve access to palliative care at home and support end-of-life care systems and services (in primary health care and community care)
  • To enable the right care at the right time and in the right place (to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation)
  • Generate and use data to support continuous improvement of services across sectors
  • Use available technologies to support flexible and responsive palliative care at home, including in the after-hours.

These objectives will contribute to achieving the following intended overarching outcomes of:

  • Improved capacity and responsiveness of services to meet local needs and priorities
  • Improved patient access to quality palliative care services in the home
  • Improved coordination of care for patients across health care providers and integration of palliative care services in their region.

Education & training funding elibility

Funding is open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.

Workforce Locum support and R&R funding criteria

  • Available to primary care services in disaster impacted communities within the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Available to support short-term workforce coverage, allowing clinicians to rest and recover.
  • Workforce-support funding in total is capped for each site, over a 12-month period:
    • $10k for GPs and/or
    • $5K for nursing and/or
    • $5k administration support and/or
    • $5K allied/pharmacy and other.
  • Funding is not to be used to fill gaps in staffing that have not been able to recruit to and not to replace existing staff.
  • Healthy North Coast will assess requirements and approve available funding directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority will be given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs.
  • Requests will be reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) to be paid monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever comes first).
  • Practices will be required to complete a request for payment form monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever occurs first).

Wellbeing Flexible Funding Criteria & Eligibility

  • Open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Activity must be purposeful, with the aim of increasing the wellbeing of your team.
  • Requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with funding allocated based on team size.*
  • Following approval by Healthy North Coast, funding will be administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) upon providing proof of expenses.
  • Funding cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol, or any other goods or services where the vendor cannot quote their Australian Business Number.
  • Planned activities must occur prior to 30th June 2024.
  • Funding will not be available for retrospective activities.
*Team Size
(Total staff and contractors)
Funding Available
Small (1-5)$500-$1500
Medium (6-20)$1500-$4000
Large (>20)$4000-$5000