Minderoo Foundation is working with Lifeline to support residents who were affected by the Black Summer bushfires in regional Australia and more recently, COVID-19 and the floods.

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Local residents observe the destruction of the flames at Glenorie, on December 5, 2002 in the northwestern suburbs of Sydney, Australia. Photo Credit: Daniel Berehulak via Getty Images.

Since the Black Summer bushfires, Lifeline has seen a 30 per cent increase in calls and an increase in demand for services. Yet local mental health support remains difficult to access, with long waiting lists for counsellors, and telephone outages in some areas. For those suffering long-term trauma, Medicare-backed support may also be inadequate, with only ten specialist sessions available through GP-referred mental health plans.

The Lifeline South Coast NSW with Lifeline Central West initiative aims to address this shortfall, through 78 training sessions involving 500 participants, and community events designed to boost social connection and wellbeing throughout the south coast of New South Wales, from Nowra to Jindabyne to Eden.

The training has including suicide awareness and prevention, psychological first aid, domestic and family violence, accidental counsellor, and mental health first aid.

A key focus of the training has been to help participants identify the signs and symptoms of mental health distress in other people, so they can listen and respond to forge closer connections and seek further professional help when needed.

Lifeline specialists attended bushfire recovery sessions throughout the south coast with local councils, RFS and other service providers to support local community members on-the-spot, as well as ensuring they had access to resources and knew how to get in contact for support where needed in the future.

Additionally, the funding has supported the launch of the Lifeline South Coast Ambassador program. This program has involved training a number of people based in the south coast and provided support for them to be able to attend local events on an ongoing basis, to ensure continued support for the south coast communities.

Watch the video to learn more about the program and its impact from Renee Green, Lifeline South Coast CEO and Sandy Beech – south coast resident, training participant and Lifeline Ambassador.

If this story has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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