A bushfire emergency can pose a number of health-related risks. This page is intended to give you a quick overview of services and advice available from both the state and federal governments, as well as information about Primary Health Tasmania’s role.
If you’re a health professional, we’ve also created this page dedicated to outlining resources and information relevant to emergency procedures during a bushfire.
Smoke-related health risks during a bushfire emergency
People exposed to bushfire smoke can experience adverse effects due to poor air quality, particularly if they:
have heart or lung disease
have had a stroke
are 65 years or older
are an infant or young child
It’s important to remember that even healthy people can experience short-term health effects from exposure to poor air quality. The Tasmanian Department of Health has prepared this fact sheet to help people understand how bushfire smoke can affect their health, and what to do if they notice any symptoms as a result of exposure.
Australian Government bushfire disaster assistance
If you’ve been directly affected by the bushfires, you can call 180 22 66 for assistance.
You can find an online overview of the federally funded mental health services available here.
Mental health support for affected Tasmanians
Mental health support is available to bushfire-affected Tasmanian communities and for Tasmanians returned from bushfire-affected areas on the mainland.
In January 2020, the Australian Government announced a total of $76 million over two years to ensure Australians have access to the mental health support they need to recover from the effects of the 2019-20 bushfires. More information is available in this fact sheet.
Talk to your GP about the options available to you, including Medicare rebatable psychological therapy sessions (no referral or mental health treatment plan required) and telehealth services. People can also self-refer to an accredited social worker – this directory from the Australian Association of Social Workers can help you find a social worker near you.
While much of the funded activity is directed at the most-affected bushfire areas interstate, Primary Health Tasmania is receiving a small amount of additional funding to support a temporary increase in services where current providers report higher demand.
We will monitor the need for mental health services in local communities and work with our commissioned mental health service providers to increase service capacity as required.
Useful links and resources
TasALERT – emergency warning and information platform