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$25,000 grant helps boost NQ resilience

The QCoal Foundation’s decision to fund a mental health support program for flood-affected North Queensland communities has played a part in building local resilience, CEO Sylvia Bhatia said today.

The Foundation donated $25,000 earlier this year to support the deployment of a team of RFDS mental health clinicians to the region.

The team’s focus has been on providing psychological support and post-trauma training to people affected directly or indirectly by the flooding, to bolster their ability to cope with the impact of such a large-scale disaster.

Almost 190 primary producers, frontline responders and community members have now attended 14 RFDS mental health support sessions in the Cloncurry, Richmond, Hughenden, Winton and Julia Creek shires.

Each session covered psychological first aid and recovery skills, understanding the ongoing impact of a natural disaster, how to care for yourself and others, and how to avoid burnout,

Ms Bhatia said knowing how to cope with adversity and support others going through tough times are valuable life skills which participants can take with them into the future.

“I’d like to congratulate the RFDS Post-Disaster Trauma Support Project team for being there in the toughest of times for these North Queensland communities, and for being that reassuring face and voice people needed to see and hear at that time,” she said.

“It’s been a privilege for the Foundation to support this initiative.”

RFDS (Queensland Section) CEO Meredith Staib said it became clear immediately following the floods that frontline workers and support agencies needed more support to be able to effectively help people whose lives had been devastated.

“People were saying to our mental health team ‘we don’t know what to do, we don’t know what to say’, which is completely understandable and is what we responded to,” Ms Staib said.

“The RFDS is incredibly fortunate to have highly qualified and experienced clinicians across our mental health teams in Queensland, so the QCoal Foundation funding allowed us to divert our senior psychologists to provide on-the-ground training and support in flood-affected shires.

“Now that we’ve built a strategy around providing flexible and responsive short and medium term mental health support in the region, we will continue to engage with the community to help shape our plans to provide long-term support to each of the flood impacted shires.”