We understand that the 2019–20 Eastern Victorian bushfires have had a devastating impact on many lives. You don’t have to go through it alone.
There is support, counselling and advice available for you and your family.
Bushfire Recovery Support Program
Recovery Support Workers can link you with a range of vital services including mental health support, housing support and financial counselling. They can assist with practical things like applying for grants and filling out paperwork.
Community Recovery Hubs
Our Community Recovery Hubs can also link you to practical support, planning and rebuilding advice, case support and support for non-profits and businesses. Click the box below to find a hub near you.
Other counselling services
- LifeLine – phone
- Lifeline is a 24-hour telephone service that offers confidential support and advice to help you deal with stress and personal challenges.
- Beyond Blue information line – phone
- Beyond Blue has an information line that offers expert information on depression, how to recognise the signs of depression, how to get help, how to help someone else and how to stay well.
- Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre – phone
- This response centre provides confidential support and information for women and children living with family violence or for anyone who knows a person living with family violence.
- Mensline – phone
- This is a telephone support, information and referral service helping men deal with their relationship problems.
- Nurse-on-Call – phone
- This is a 24-hour telephone service that allows people to discuss any health-related issues with a registered nurse for the cost of a local call.
- Kids Help Line – phone
- This is a 24-hour telephone service that provides a phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5–25.
- Phone Triple Zero () if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.
Family violence support
Family violence can happen to anyone.
You can contact these services if you or someone you know needs help or support:
- Safe steps – (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
- For women and children who are victims of family violence
- 1800 Respect – (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
- For people experiencing or at risk of experiencing sexual assault, domestic or family violence
- Men’s Referral Service – (8am to 9pm, Monday to Friday; 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday)
- It takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that things may not be right. This service specialises in effective evidence-informed engagement with men. The staff will work to develop safe and effective interventions for men who turn to violence.
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line – (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
- For victims of sexual assault
- Child Protection – (5pm to 9am, Monday to Friday, and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays)
- For children and young people whose safety is at risk.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) can support National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants once people are out of danger. You may be eligible to access the scheme if you are under 65 and live with a permanent disability that affects your ability to take part in everyday activities.
Support for families
For children and young people
It's okay to feel stressed and confused after a disaster. If you feel this way, you should talk to your parents or guardians about it.
- Talk with a trusted adult about getting the right sort of help if it all feels a bit much.
- Do things that make you feel physically and emotionally safe, and be with those who are helpful to your wellbeing.
- Engage in activities that promote a sense of calm and feeling grounded (use of alcohol and other drugs can be counterproductive with this). Look for ways to include some routine and re-engage with pre-exposure activities as much as possible (e.g. playing games or sports, hobbies, etc.).
- Find ways to connect with others, especially those who help you feel OK.
- Explore ways to get involved with repair and recovery of your community, and family and friends. This can help foster a sense of hope, which is important to recovery.
- Be mindful of exposure to traumatic information through stories, traditional news and social media. It can be helpful to take a break from the 24-hour news cycle.
There are people in the community who you can talk to directly:
- Kids Help Line – phone – a 24-hour telephone service that provides phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5–25.
For parents and guardians
Children can feel overwhelmed and devastated when directly affected by bushfires or from the scenes that emerge afterwards. Sometimes, they don’t have ways of understanding what they see and can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness.
At the same time, children can also have a natural ability to be resilient and adapt to challenging events.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- a child becoming more clingy towards a parent or carer
- changes to sleeping or eating patterns, or both
- the emergence of new physical complaints – such as stomach ache or headache
- changes in mood – such as being more easily irritable, or shutting down
- changes in a child's behaviour or learning at school
- appearing on edge and frightened – for example, being more easily startled, developing new fears, having nightmares or regression in behaviour.
If you (or one of your child’s carers) notice these or other changes then it is important to ask the child what they are worried about. Talk to them in a way that is open and appropriate to their age. Listen to their questions and fears and show them that you understand.
If you are concerned and need assistance you can get help from:
Reviewed 20 April 2021