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19 December 2016

Country SA PHN assists Pinery bushfire survivors emotional recovery

In an Australian first, Pinery bushfire survivors will be involved in an international emotional recovery pilot program interPAR, for trauma survivors.

Country SA PHN is pleased to provide funding to help Pinery bushfire survivors manage their stress, feel more in control and cope after disaster.

Delivered by the Northern Health Network and the Red Cross and devised by Phoenix Australia – Melbourne University’s Centre for Post-Traumatic Mental Health – in partnership with the Prince’s Charities Australia, the program focuses on training people from the community to support others who are struggling with emotional trauma.

The 2015 Pinery bushfire burned from 25 November to 2 December 2015 - primarily affecting the Lower Mid North and west Barossa Valley regions, north of Gawler. The fire claimed two lives and 90 people were hospitalised, with five of the victims suffering critical injuries. At least 86, 000 hectares (210 000 acres) of scrub and farm land were burned as a result of the fire – having a catastrophic impact on the local rural industry.

“We understand that natural disasters, like the Pinery bushfire, can cause considerable grief, stress, anxiety, anger and depression amongst communities,” said Country SA PHN, CEO Kim Hosking.

“The interPAR program aims to bridge the gap in emotional recovery services – helping rural South Australians who may not ordinarily seek help, benefit from this type of assistance.”

Director of Research at Phoenix Australia, Associate Professor Meaghan O’Donnell, said coaching using the program was a promising approach to helping people experiencing moderate and ongoing emotional trauma.

“These community members might not need intensive clinical intervention for severe mental health problems, but would nonetheless recover faster with some well-timed, practical and emotional support,” Dr O’Donnell said.

“The idea behind training coaches from within the community is that in many disasters, you will see a number of trusted community members come to the fore in helping others. This program gives them some tools to support them in that.”

University of Melbourne researchers are hopeful this program will become the “gold standard” for emotional recovery for natural disasters and more broadly for emergency services workers, military personnel and people affected by other traumatic experiences.

Country SA PHN is responsible for commissioning Commonwealth directed funding for primary health services throughout regional South Australia. For more information, please visit

Country SA PHN is the health network set up to service the country regions of South Australia, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery while improving the coordination of patient care. Established by the Australian Government, we exist to bridge the gap of health inequity and access in rural South Australia by building a collaborative and responsive health care system. Country SA PHN covers 99.8% of the state geographically, incorporating approximately 30% of South Australia’s total population.


Media enquiries:  Kristy Macfarland, Michels Warren PR on 0402 557 527


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