Primary health disaster response

Australia is prone to a variety of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods, severe storms and heatwaves which can have a profound impact on the population’s health and wellbeing. Primary health plays a critical role in responding to emergencies and should consider a business continuity plan in the event of a disaster.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed the Managing emergencies in general practice guide to assist practices in preparing, responding and recovering during a disaster.

The Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) has established a HELPLINE (0484 597 191) to provide administrative support for practices that have been affected by the bushfires. This service will be operational between 8:30am and 50pm (AEDT) Monday - Friday.

Phoenix Health has developed some resources to support GPs working within bushfire affected communities. Click here to access.

Tips for being prepared

  • develop an up-to-date emergency response plan for your practice
  • exercise your plan on a regular basis
  • contact other practices in your local area and agree on how you can offer mutual support
  • have a plan in place to send communications to patients about service disruptions or changes.

Refer to ACT & Southern NSW HealthPathways

Refer to Illawarra Shoalhaven HealthPathways

The most effective support you can provide during a time of disaster is to consider extending practice opening hours to accommodate an increase in patient demand.

It is important to keep up-to-date during a disaster, as conditions can change suddenly. Some useful sites include:

Following a significant event such as a natural disaster it is common for people to experience a range of thoughts, feelings and emotions. The resources below have been provided for further information:

In a disaster, GPs and other health professionals can be both the victim and the responder. The Office of Emergency Management has recently released a Bushfire Recovery Assistance guide for people impacted by bushfires. 

If you have been impacted by a disaster, please take care of your own health. Should you need, don't hesitate to contact the following support services:

You can also download, print and share our flyer with support options for those affected by bushfires.

Local support services
  • COORDINARE funds a number of mental health services in the region. View the full list here. We are also working to fund bushfire-specific counselling and support services. More details will be available shortly.
Resources
  • The NSW Government has announced the Service NSW Bushfire Customer Care team. The service is designed to help individuals and businesses impacted by bushfire to navigate the support that is available to them across all levels of government. Customers can call Service NSW on 13 77 88, see a Service NSW team member in a Disaster Recovery Centre, visit a Service NSW Centre or Mobile Service Centre, or go to service.nsw.gov.au for assistance.
  • The Office of Emergency Management has recently released a Bushfire Recovery Assistance guide for people impacted by bushfires. 
  • NSW Government have released a Protect yourself from bushfire smoke resource
  • Encourage community members to visit our 'Bushfire support' page at www.bushfiresupport.info.
  • Download, print and share our flyer with support options for those affected by bushfires.

You can also direct your patients to the following information, to help them be prepared in the event of natural disasters or if they have health concerns:

Support lines
  • Healthdirect after-hours GP helpline - 1800 022 222
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
  • Mental Health Line - 1800 011 511
  • Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800
  • GriefLine - 1300 845 745
  • Disaster Welfare Assistance Line - 1800 018 444
  • Housing Contact Centre - 1800 422 322
  • Law Access NSW Disaster Response Hotline - 1800 801 529