APM Supporting Bushfire Affected Communities

Published on 20 Nov 2020

shot of a green shoot sprouting from a burnt tree affected by bushfires

The APM Assure Community Support Line was set up to provide free mental health telephone counselling across Australia in response to the devastating bushfires that occurred last summer.

“We’ve seen tremendous community spirit and resolve as communities rallied around each other to lend support,” APM Group CEO Michael Anghie said.

“As part of the community, APM and Assure had clients and staff affected by the bushfires and we wanted to offer our services to support those people in need. That’s why we offered free mental health counselling over the phone to anyone impacted by the summer bushfire tragedy.” he said.

12 months on from the immediate impact of this event, we look at the support offered via the Community Support Line – with those affected seeking support with:

  • Financial aid – home, workplace or income impacted by fire.
  • Post-disaster counselling and reassurance – following being impacted by significant experiences, such as driving through a fire front.
  • Anxiety – severely heightened anxiety caused by evacuation needs.
  • Outreach for disaster-related assistance – e.g., homes destroyed in the fires, linking in with support and resources available to assist.
  • Trauma support – reignition of concerns from prior trauma experience as a result of the experience of the bushfires.

We know that people may experience grief or stress after a disaster like a bushfire. Sometimes the impact is obvious straight away, but often it is a slow process.

Some impacts include shock, anger, depression, tension, irritability, anxiety or difficulty making decisions.

It is important to remember that as well as those directly impacted by the bushfire crises, many others still will be impacted by witnessing the impact upon family, friends, the community and the media, or experience a cumulative effect if a number of things are occurring for them at the same time.

APM are proud to be a supporter of Fortem Australia, who were successful recipients of an Australian Government grant to provide mental health support services for emergency personnel, individuals and communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said ensuring quality mental health care and support for those impacted by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires is a priority for the Government.

“Our emergency services workers faced extremely challenging and dangerous situations” Minister Littleproud said.

“Providing this $11.5 million in grants to specialist support organisations will ensure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health support services can be delivered to them and their families."

“PTSD is one of the most prevalent injuries suffered by those who have faced such destructive events, yet some are reluctant to seek support. Establishing a support and mental health literacy network will encourage individuals in the emergency services sector to connect, talk, and seek help."

“The network will also connect those in need of clinical services in relation to PTSD, suicide and other mental health issues."

“Investing in the best mental health outcomes is critical to providing the care our emergency services workers have earned and deserve” Minister Littleproud said.