If you are in an area affected by flooding or storms, please listen to the instructions given by emergency services. Important messages are often played on your local ABC radio.
If the situation is life threatening, always call Triple Zero (000).
For non-life-threatening flood and storm emergency assistance during severe weather events, contact your state emergency services from anywhere in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland or Tasmania:
- Victoria Emergency Service call 132 500
- Qld Fire and Emergency Services call 13 74 68
- NSW Emergency Service call 132 500
- Tasmania Emergency Service call 132 500
Please be aware that demand on State Emergency Services (SES) during a severe weather event is huge and can lead to long wait times when calling for assistance.
Medical treatment or advice
If your General Practitioner (GP) or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) is closed, evacuation centres have staff who can help you to make a walk-in or telehealth (phone or video) appointment.
If you're unable to access an evacuation centre, contact Healthdirect, free of charge, to find available GPs in your area.
If you’re located in an area affected by an emergency weather event, a number of medical practices and pharmacies may be closed for the short to medium term. The Australian Government will provide locum support to ensure continuity of access to healthcare for everyone who needs it. Contact your regular GP or pharmacy in the first instance, or for information about GPs or pharmacies in your area, contact Healthdirect. For more local health service information about your region, contact your local Primary Health Network.
If you are in a designated disaster area, an exemption has been made so you don't need to have an established relationship with a GP to access telehealth services (video and phone). These services are subsidised under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
The exemption applies to areas that have been declared a natural disaster and for the duration of that declaration.
Information on areas that have been declared a natural disaster can be found on the Disaster Assist website.
Find out more about telehealth and Medicare benefits.
Pharmacists can contact your doctor by phone to make sure you can still get the prescription medicines you need, even if your script has been lost or damaged by the floods.
In some cases, you can get the prescription medicine you need without a script.
Under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Continued Dispensing Arrangements, a pharmacist can provide one supply of eligible medicine/s without a prescription within a 12-month period. This can happen when there is an immediate need for the medicine, but the PBS prescriber is:
- unable to be contacted
- unable to provide an electronic PBS prescription or owing prescription.
Prescriptions (scripts) and telehealth appointments
If you have a telehealth appointment and the GP writes a prescription, it can be sent online to you by SMS or email. Some GPs can also send the prescription online to your chosen pharmacy.
Mental health advice or support
Experiencing a natural disaster can be stressful and affect your mental health. There are resources to help during this difficult time.
Telephone and online services
To talk to someone, you can call any of the following hotlines:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
- MensLine on 1300 78 99 78
- Lifeline Text on 0477 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 (children under 12 years)
- Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600
Head to Health
Head to Health provides information, advice and links for free and low-cost phone, online and face to face mental health services and supports for people in impacted communities.
headspace is the national youth mental health foundation. They have information for young people about coping with the stress of a natural disaster, including tips for the short and long term.
If you’re a young person aged 12 to 25 years, or supporting a young person in a flood impacted community, you can find a list of walk-in services that are open on the headspace website.
If you’re unable to attend a headspace service in person, they provide free, telephone and web-based support services:
- Victorian residents can call the Victorian Mental Health Service on 1800 595 212 for free mental health and wellbeing support between 8.30am to 5.00pm weekdays.
- NSW residents can call the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 to access NSW-funded support services.
- Qld residents can contact 1300 64 2255, which is a confidential mental health telephone triage service that provides the first point of contact to public mental health services for Queenslanders.
- Tasmanian residents can call Access Mental Health Helpline on 1800 332 388 for free mental health and wellbeing support between 9.00am and 10.00pm 7 days a week.
Medicare rebate for mental health services
After a stressful event such as a flood, it’s normal to feel anxious or depressed.
If you or someone you know is experiencing distress or mental health concerns, the first step is to get a mental health treatment plan from your GP. This plan identifies the mental health care you need, and outlines the goals you and your doctor want to achieve.
You will then be able to get a Medicare rebate to reduce the cost of support from your GPs and other medical practitioners such as psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.
Find out more about the Better Access initiative.
Accessing support in aged care facilities
If you or someone you know is in a residential aged care facility (RACF) in an impacted community, more information including emergency contact numbers can be found at Service Continuity and Emergency Events in Aged Care.
To ensure appropriate support is provided as quickly as possible, all aged care providers (RACFs and in home and community aged care providers) must follow existing state and local government pathways to request help.
More information is provided in the Australian Government health support for aged care in flood affected regions fact sheet.
If you are directly affected by a natural disaster event, such as floods or storms, there is financial help available.
Visit the Services Australia website to find out more about financial help available from the Australian Government and other agencies.
Check your eligibility and how to claim by selecting your natural disaster event.
Financial help includes:
- Disaster payments
- Other payments from Services Australia
- Other government financial help
- Centrelink debt repayments
- No interest loans
Other government help to recover
Australian Government and state-based agencies provide relief and recovery services and support. Find out more through the online tool Recovery Connect.
The Disaster Assist website can help you find information on declared natural disasters. If you’re in an area affected by a disaster, you can search to find out what help is available for your Local Government Area.
The Moneysmart website has information about recovering financially after a natural disaster.
Talk to your bank about your mortgage repayments and fees. They might be able to help if you’ve experienced a natural disaster.