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Health program aids bushfire victims in recovery process

4 September 2009 |Media centre

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s philanthropic arm, Community Enterprise Foundation™ will fund a new Bendigo Bushfire Health and Wellbeing Program.

The foundation has donated $27,500 to Bendigo Community Health so it can run assessments and implement programs for local people affected by the Black Saturday bushfires.

Kaye Graves, General Manager, Bendigo Community Health, said the program will start this month and service up to 50 bushfires victims from Eaglehawk and Bendigo.

“We will be offering health assessments and health coaching to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of those affected by the fires,” Ms Graves said.

“Many people were traumatised by the fires and while homes might have been rebuilt and possessions replaced, the emotional and physical scars may endure for months and even years.

“We are offering full check ups with a qualified community health nurse and if problems are detected we can refer patients to appropriate specialists or assist them in developing techniques to overcome any mental or physical heath problems.”

Paul Epworth lost his West Bendigo home to the Black Saturday bushfires. He now facilitates a bushfire support group and said the new health program will receive overwhelming support.

“I see people at various stages of recovery and to be honest I’m not even sure where I’m up to,” he said.

“Losing your home, a loved one, or even witnessing the fires has had a devastating impact on many local people and some of us are only confronting the issues now.

“When you have to rebuild your house and make sure your children are alright, you tend to neglect your health.

“But this new program will be like a one stop shop where you can have a complete check up and get your physical and mental wellbeing back on track.”

The Bendigo Bushfire Health and Wellbeing Program has been developed in conjunction with the Bushfire Action Group, that is made up of individuals directly affected by the fires.

The pilot will operate from September to December and be evaluated early next year.

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