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Additional Mental Health Support for Bushfire Affected Clients

The Federal Government has announced additional mental health support for those affected by the national bushfire disaster. This includes the immediate provision of 10 free counselling sessions to provide short-term distress support.

OTA also welcomes the longer-term initiatives, in particular the 10 psychological therapy sessions which will be in addition to the ten sessions currently available under Medicare. It is appropriate that, in these exceptional circumstances, people will be able to access their mental health professional directly for these additional sessions, and won’t have to seek a GP’s referral first.

Please note that the Department of Veterans' Affairs has also announced that bushfire affected clients are now able to access a maximum of 10 mental health services per calendar year without a GP referral. Clients do not require a diagnosed mental health condition to access these services and should self-identify as being impacted by the ongoing bushfire disaster. These sessions may be provided by a general practitioner, psychologist, clinical psychologist, mental health occupational therapist or mental health social worker.

The DVA treatment cycle arrangements do not apply to these services. However, after accessing 10 sessions, DVA clients who require ongoing mental health support may access further services through usual health card arrangements, including the usual treatment cycle referral arrangements.

Read OTA’s media release on the investment in mental health services for fire affected communities.

Learn more on the MBS online website.

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