Rural healthcare workers given helping hand to maintain their wellbeing during COVID-19

nib foundation is providing NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) with $230,000 in funding to develop self-care and wellbeing resources for health professionals in remote, rural and regional communities.

Approach to care – natural disasters course

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) has announced an “Approach to Care – Natural Disasters” course. This course will introduce health professionals to the health and psychosocial issues associated with environmental disasters and the role they can play in responding to these issues.

ACRRM support for college members

The Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine (ACRRM) has provided information and resourses for its college members affected by the bushfires.

Accommodation and transport support for bushfire-affected rural patients

The NSW Government has announced further support measures for rural patients impacted by bushfires by broadening the criteria for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).

The IPTAAS  provides subsidies for transport and accommodation expenses incurred while travelling for specialist medical treatment.

Natural disaster and emergency primary health workforce response

RDN and partner organisations are coordinating a response to provide General Practice and primary health care workforce support to areas of NSW affected by natural disasters. 

We are seeking expressions of interest from healthcare professionals who can provide assistance and relief in communities.

There are two critical periods for workforce support. Firstly, the emergency response period (January and February) and secondly the recovery period (February through to December 2020). Your consideration of availability for both these periods is appreciated.

Mental health support measures announced for individuals affected by the bushfire crisis

The Australian Government has announced a new mental health support program for Australians affected by the bushfire crisis. The measure will ensure people have access to coordinated and tailored support they need to recover from the effects of the 2019–20 bushfires, including access to on the ground counselling and mental health support.


Farmers Community Connect events throughout NSW

The Rapid Relief Team (RRT) is holding Farmers Community Connect events throughout NSW to support farmers, including providing mental health support.

Find a Farmers Community Connect event in your area by visiting the Rapid Relief Team’s Facebook page.

Keeping mental health in check during this bushfire season

Even if you’re not directly affected by the fires this season, the devastation can still have an impact on your mental health.

Clinical Psychologist, David Younger who works with disaster affected communities says it’s important to have some down time away from the news.

He gave ABC’s Craig Hamilton a list of ways to look after yourself in these tough times.

North Coast PHN Bushfire response

The North Coast PHN has developed a bushfire response resource for people in the Mid North Coast and northern NSW. The website includes a Primary Care Services Directory, changes to local practice and pharmacy opening hours and links to mental health support.

Visit the site

NSW bushfires assistance

Assistance is available for those who have experienced a loss of income or been adversely affected as a direct result of the NSW bushfires in August, September, October and November 2019.

Visit the Department of Human Services website for more information.

CRANAplus Bush Support Service

The Cranaplus Bush Support Service Toll Free Telephone Counselling and Support Service is available 24/7 to anyone and their family members who provide a health or health related service in rural or remote Australia. To access the free support service, call 1800 805 391.

Visit the website

ACRRM advice for pharmacists in QLD and NSW fire affected areas

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) has published advice for approved pharmacists supplying PBS medicines to patients in areas affected by QLD and NSW bushfires, such as dispensing medicines under the three-day emergency supply rule without a prescription.

Visit ACRRM for more information

Free mental health support options for Mid North Coast or Northern NSW residents affected by the bushfires

If you’re a Mid North Coast or Northern NSW residents who has been affected by the bushfires, you are being encouraged to access free mental health support via the local Healthy Minds program.

Get support

Support options for those affected by bushfires

This community information handout, ‘Support options for those affected by bushfires’ has been produced by NSW Disaster Recovery and the North Coast PHN.

Download the PDF

Supporting drought-affected communities with buy from the bush initiative

Created to encourage metropolitan shoppers to buy from businesses in rural communities facing drought, #buyfromthebush is a social media campaign making a huge difference. Small business owners and sellers in rural communities such as Cobar, Walgett and Gilgandra are featured on the #buyfromthebush Facebook and Instagram pages, which combined have over 120,000 followers.

Another initiative, the public Facebook group One Day Closer to Rain (Drought) – Rural Cottage Crafts has over 34,000 members and is a place for people in rural Australia to sell their homemade crafts.

As the Christmas season approaches, there is no better time to buy from the bush and support drought-affected regional communities.

Read about #buyfromthebush

Video: RAMHP Profile – Tessa Caton

Tessa Caton, Program Manager for the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), speaks about mental health in rural communities. RAMHP exists to educate, encourage and link people to mental health support.

Watch the video

Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network hosts a free dinner at the Ex-Services Club

On 12 September the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNELHD) held a mental health dinner at the Walcha Ex-Services Club. The dinner was for anyone in the community who wished to attend.  

HNELHD offers a drought support team; a free service for people to access without a GP referral. To access call 0477 322 851 or email HNELHD-DroughtSupport@health.nsw.gov.au 

Read the news article

Mental health and wellbeing in first responders

What are the factors that contribute to excess stress and burnout for health workers? The Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN has been partnering with NSW Rural Doctors Network to educate clinicians on how to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, especially suicidal ideation, intent and plans in the first responder population.

Watch the video

Staying or going the hardest drought decisions

Deciding to leave the land or stay is a hard decision. Finding ways to reduce the physiological effects caused by stress in these situations is paramount. Producers should treat their own mental health and wellbeing as an asset which requires the same sort of investment, management and attention as pastures and stock.

Read more

Volume eight of the “Glove Box Guide to Mental Health” released

The award-winning Glove Box Guide to Mental Health aims to encourage rural people to talk about mental health, with this editions theme highlighting the ways rural Australian communities adapt to and cope with change. Now in its eighth edition, the guide is a partnership between The Land and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP).

Download your copy today

Event: Dealing with depression in rural Australia

The Black Dog Institute is offering its ‘Dealing with Depression in Rural Australia’ workshop at a subsidised rate. This workshop is a highly interactive, multidisciplinary program developed specifically to address the needs of clinicians delivering health care for people presenting with depression in a rural setting.

Workshops are being run in Coonamble, Mudgee, Bega, Cowra, Bourke, Nowra and Broken Hill.

This image by matthewjohnstone.com.au and is dedicated to all the health professionals in the field.

Register now

Free art workshops for drought-affected Murrumbidgee

Free places are being offered in some of the Wired Lab’s creative workshops for people who have been affected by the drought and live in the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network area.

The Wired Lab is an artist-led organisation evolving interdisciplinary art practices in rural Australia.

If you’re working on the land or supporting those who do, you’re invited to apply. This initiative is made possible with a Murrumbidgee Community Grant, which is an initiative of Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and part of the Australian Government’s ‘Empowering our Communities’ funding.

Learn more

NSW Youth Summit on Living with Drought

UNICEF Australia, with the support of the NSW Government, is hosting the first Youth Summit for young people living with drought in NSW. The Summit will be held from 9-11 October and will bring together children, young people and decision-makers to discuss the challenges they face living with drought in NSW and how responses can be improved. The Summit is also an opportunity for young people living with drought to have a break in beautiful Lake Macquarie.

Learn more

Event: Dealing with depression in rural Australia

Presented by RDN and the Riverina Rural Training Hub, and facilitated by Black Dog Institute, this highly interactive, multidisciplinary program is developed specifically to address the needs of clinicians delivering health care for people presenting with depression in a rural setting.

When:  7 September, 9am-4pm
Where: University of Notre Dame, School of Medicine, Wagga Wagga

Register now

Mental health support diaries now available in Murrumbidgee

Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network (MPHN) has released a new undated financial year diary, which is free to people in the Murrumbidgee region impacted by drought.

The diaries contain helpful information about mental health and wellbeing and are an initiative of its drought steering committee.

Get your diary
Walgette IGA burnt down

Food and water appeal for the community of Walgett

The town of Walgett, in northern NSW sadly lost its only supermarket in a fire on 5 June 2019. The Supa IGA was the only supermarket in drought-stricken Walgett, with the next closest source of food and supplies over 80 kilometres away in Lightning Ridge. 

Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) has established a fundraising appeal for donations to fund food, groceries and drinking water for Walgett residents (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal), to be distributed according to greatest need. 

Find out more about the appeal. 

Donate now

Mental Health First Aid Course in Orange

This Mental Health First Aid course teaches adults how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Date: 1 – 2 August
Time: 9am – 4pm
Price: $220 (excl gst)
Venue: Lifeline Orange

Register now

Clinical Complexities and Self-Care Workshop

We all face challenging conversations in our professional lives. This workshop will help you to have these conversations. It will also provide tips for your self-care and that of your colleagues.

The 17 May is for nurses and allied health and will cover challenging patients, trauma-informed care and self-care. Local teachers are invited to join the trauma-informed care session.

The 18 May is for doctors and will cover challenging patients, supervision and self-care.

You are invited to complimentary drinks and canapes for all delegates on the evening of the first day.

This workshop will be facilitated by Dr Louise Stone and is proudly brought to you by NSW Rural Doctors Network and the Riverina Rural Training Hub.

Date: Friday 17 May and Saturday 18 May
University of Notre Dame School of Medicine
Wagga Wagga

You may be eligible for Health Workforce Scholarship Program funding to attend this training. Find out more.

Register now

Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference – Narrabri

NSW Rural Doctors Network and the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network invite you to attend our Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference.

Living in a rural community can have a range of impacts on mental health. This conference will help you to better support your patients and look after your mental health in this challenging environment.

Date: Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 June
Who: Doctors, nurses and allied health professionals from rural and remote NSW
Venue: Crossing Theatre, 117 Tibbereena St, Narrabri
More: Download and share the program and the event flyer.

You may be eligible for Health Workforce Scholarship Training funding to attend this training. Find out more.

Register now

Free mental health coaching for drought affected communities across Western NSW

Drought affected communities across rural and regional Western NSW can now access ‘NewAccess’, a free mental health coaching support developed by Beyond Blue and delivered locally by Marathon Health.

The program is for anyone aged 16 and over who is stressed, or feeling anxious or overwhelmed about everyday life issues such as work, study, relationships and loneliness.

Western NSW remains drought-stricken and the sustained stress on locals, along with uncertainty around livelihoods, can take a toll and leave lasting effects on people’s mental health.

The Australian Government funds the program via the Western NSW PHN.

Learn more

The General Practice Conference & Exhibition (GPCE)

This year’s GPCE Conference has four major themes and one of them is about turning the stethoscope around to you! Sessions will focus on personal health and wellbeing, work-life balance, time management, communication skills and more.

The GPCE 2019 event series is fully accredited by RACGP and ACRRM.

To save 25% on your conference pass, visit gpce.com.au and use the code RDNSYD25 to claim discount.

Visit gpce.com.au

More mental health support on the table for drought stricken communities

The Australian Government will provide $463,815 for informal mental health support and referral pathways. Nine drought-affected communities, including Scone, Cooma, Coonabarabran, Portland and Narrandera, will be part of a Trusted Advocates Network Trial in which PHNs will provide support and mental health first aid to trusted faces in each community.

Read more

Online course: Mental Health Disorders Training for Rural Practitioners

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine provides this four-week online course, which has a focus on rural and remote Australia.

Register now
Rural Adversity in Mental Health Program (RAMHP) mental health nurse, Steve Carrigg

Mental health support for fire affected communities

Mental health services and support is available for individuals and communities affected by the recent bushfires in Northern NSW.

Rural Adversity in Mental Health Program (RAMHP) mental health nurse, Steve Carrigg, said people could be at an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression after a traumatic event, but help was available.

“Following any disaster, it is normal for people to feel overwhelmed, worry a lot more than usual, have trouble concentrating and making decisions, and become tearful,” Steve said.

“People may also have trouble with sleep, bad dreams and may experience a loss of appetite. They may start to question their own decisions during and after the event, which is all normal behaviour.

“By knowing what emotional responses to expect, and how to look after your own mental health and support loved ones, you can reduce the risk of developing mental health issues in the aftermath of a traumatic event.”

Access support

Connecting the dots for rural resilience

The Rural Adversity Mental Health program aims to link rural people with the help they need, be it financial or personal counselling, social workers, nurses and other allied health professionals, to improve the quality of life in the bush. The Australian Farmer talks to RAMH mental health coordinator Dianne Gill about education, reducing stigma, asking someone if they are having a tough time and getting help.

Read the full interview

When a doctor says “I am depressed”

Clinical Professor Leanne Rowe – a GP and past Chairman of the RACGP – shares her thoughts on helping colleagues deal with their own mental health.

Read the full article on Insight Plus

Course: Dealing with Depression in Rural Australia

Presented by Black Dog Institute, this highly interactive multidisciplinary program has been developed specifically to address the needs of clinicians delivering health care for people presenting with depression in a rural setting. Using a case-based problem solving format, the program outlines a practical framework for assessment and management planning readily applicable to primary care.

Suitable for General Practitioners, GP Registrars, Psychologists, Mental Health Clinicians and Allied Health Professionals.

Date: Saturday 9 March, 2019
Location: Ballina, NSW

Cost: $50 (reduced from $360 as generously subsidised by EISS)

More about this event

Healthdirect Australia is offering its WebRTC-based Video Call service at no charge to GPs

Healthdirect Australia is offering its WebRTC-based Video Call service at no charge to GPs who wish to access new telehealth MBS items to support the mental health of their patients in drought-affected communities.

Read more
Bush Support Service on the road

CRANAplus Bush Support Services on the road

With funding from the Australian Government, CRANAplus psychologists will be visiting rural NSW to promote best practice ways of managing stress. They will also provide health professionals with strategies to have difficult conversations with patients and clients around suicide risk and appropriate referral to psychological services.

The social and emotional impact of the severe drought in NSW is far-reaching and affects everyone in rural and remote communities. Health, allied health and other community workers, as the cornerstone of community support, are experiencing an increased demand in complex workload. It is important that the mental health of these workers be a focus of intervention.

Free ‘mini’ workshops will be held between February and May 2019 in Nowra, Albury, Mildura, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Cooma, Inverell, Cobar, Wagga Wagga, Hay, Walgett, Tamworth, Bega, Griffith, Wilcannia, Bourke, Forbes, Armidale, Moruya, Narrandera, Broken Hill, Orange, Dubbo, Yass, and Moree.

Download the flyer

Grant funding for communities hit by drought

WNSW PHN is offering funding to assist communities in the region which have been affected by drought. Under the Australian Government’s Empowering our Communities Program, WNSW PHN is offering small grants to support wellbeing initiatives, upskill workers in the delivery of mental health services and provide information and training to community leaders and members. Community organisations (including sporting clubs and local governments) can apply for grants within the range of $5,000 to $50,000. To be eligible they must be based in the WNSW PHN region.

Round 1 for Western NSW PHN Community, Wellbeing and Drought Relief grant applications will close at 5pm (AEDT) Friday 1 February 2019.

Read more


Reschedule, reprioritise, recharge and review

“After a busy, challenging year, it can sometimes be hard to switch off our overstimulated minds and enjoy a well-earned rest over the festive season while catching up on our family and personal responsibilities.

As is the case with many professional roles and leadership positions, a GP career has never been more complex and challenging, and it’s important we are proactive in managing the inevitable stress that comes with our vocation.”

GP and author Dr Leanne Rowe discusses her four-step approach to managing stress ahead of this festive season.

Read more

Workshop and toolkit helping communities beat the drought

A workshop at West Tamworth League Club will give people practical tools to help those dealing with communities in drought and Lifeline Australia has developed a Drought Toolkit that is a guide with practical strategies to help people get through the drought.

Learn more

New drought coordinator Jock Laurie says NSW farmers will get the support they need during the big dry

The newly-appointed New South Wales drought coordinator says he is determined to ensure no one is left behind in the rollout of the State Government’s billion-dollar response to the drought.

Read more

Inside a town dealing with the drought: How this rural NSW community is struggling

As NSW continues to live through one of the worst droughts in 100 years, the effects are being felt beyond the farmer’s gate. With primary producers buying nothing more than the necessities, it’s the towns in rural areas that are feeling the pinch.

As long as the rain doesn’t fall, the money doesn’t flow. And the drought-stricken town of Quirindi is still struggling, despite some recent downfalls.

Watch the story on news.com.au

Get Talkin’ Tour

One in five Australians will experience a mental health condition in any given year and there are greater challenges for those living in regional and remote areas.

That is why batyr is bringing the Get Talkin’ Tour to Orange, Cowra, Dubbo and Walgett.

The tour aims to provide communities with the tools and skills to look out for their own wellbeing. There will be a free barbecue and a game of footy with the Waratahs.

Learn more

Telehealth in drought affected areas now covered by Medicare rebates

For the first time, rural GPs in drought-affected areas will be able to bill Medicare for mental health consultations by phone.

Read full story from RACGP

Mental health drought relief telehealth initiative

New Medicare Benefits Schedule items introduced on 1 November 2018 enable eligible GPs and non-specialist medical practitioners to provide general mental health and well-being support services by video conference to patients in drought-affected areas.

Get more information

Rural youth mental health outreach program launched to support rural western NSW

Mental health challenges in rural areas of Australia are particularly concerning, with statistics showing that one in four young people experience mental health concerns over a 12 month period.

To help tackle this significant issue, the Benevolent Society has partnered with Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service – an organisation that provides Primary Health Care representation to the Aboriginal Medical Services across the Western and Far West of NSW – to offer the Rural Youth Mental Health (RYMH) service.

Read the full story

Get your “Glove Box Guide to Mental Health”

The 2018 Glove Box Guide to Mental Health, released by The Land in partnership with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), is a 64 page resource which includes personal stories, advice, support and contact information to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of rural communities.

Download your copy today

Proud Country on ABC Four Corners

Quirindi GP, Dr Luqman Nasar, was interviewed by the ABC’s Four Corners as part of a report into the devastating impact the NSW drought is having on rural communities.

Watch video

Nyngan’s two green chairs bring relief from drought

In Nyngan Rural Agencies two chairs plastic green chairs aren’t just a resting place to wait for supplies, they have become a spot where farmers can travel up to hundreds of kilometres to discuss politics, sport and the weather to take their mind off drought.

Read in The Land

Psychiatry support for NSW GP practices

GPs across most of drought-hit NSW are being offered unlimited free access to a psychiatry support line aimed at keeping distressed patients in primary care.

Read Medical Republic article

Lifeline Drought Tool Kit being released

Lifeline Drought Tool Kit being released. To help people cope with the drought, the Lifeline Drought Tool Kit, a hands-on guide with practical advice, has been prepared.The eight-page guide features 10 main points including how to access financial counselling and deal with isolation and has advice on stress management and family and mental health.

Read Western Advocate article

Dudley Private Hospital waiving fees for farmers

Dudley Private Hospital (Orange NSW) will waive hospital excess fee and co-payments for farmers as part of a campaign to aid drought relief.

Read Western Magazine article

Government to announce 20 new counsellors who will help farmers fight depression and anxiety

A “FLYING squad” of mental health workers will visit drought-stricken farming families across the state under a $6.3 million initiative to tackle depression and anxiety.

Read Daily Telegraph article

NSW government funding to provide three new ‘farm gate’ mental health support workers

NSW government funding to provide three new ‘farm gate’ mental health support workers. Additional mental health worker placements in Hunter New England.

Read Newcastle Herald article

Amid drought’s terrible toll, we do not walk alone

I’m sure I speak for many GPs who are looking out the window at empty dusty paddocks, dying trees and sad stock. Every afternoon hungry kangaroos hop through our carpark to graze on the few green sprouts in the practice garden.

Read Medical Republic article

How can GPs best help people in Australia’s drought-affected regions?

Rural and remote GPs in NSW and Queensland are finding novel ways of reaching people badly affected by the record-breaking drought.

Read RACGP article

NSW Health warns of Q fever risk as drought grips state

NSW Health is urging people in regional and rural NSW, particularly parents, to take extra precautions against Q fever as drought and windy conditions may raise the risk of the disease in these areas.

Read article on NSW Health website

$6.3m to help drought-stricken farmers suffering mental health issues

As farmers continue to battle what some have described as the worst drought in living memory, the New South Wales Government has today announced a funding boost for mental health services.

Read article on ABC website

Drought mental health support now to include telehealth consults with local rural doctors

Rural GPs will be able to access Medicare rebates for mental-health phone consults for the first time, to ease distress in drought-hit farming communities.

Read article

NSW drought: Lifeline and CWA team up to help farmers

Lifeline Central West has teamed up with the Country Women’s Association (CWA) for a roadshow of 12 free workshops called Moving Forward Together to target those in need where they need it most.

Read article from Grenfell Record

Why we need to plan for the health impacts of drought

Chair of RACGP Rural Dr Ayman Shenouda discusses steps GPs can take to plan for long-term health issues likely to arise from the drought gripping parts of Australia.

Read RACGP article