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Free 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers

17 Feb 2021

Remote and rur­al health work­ers make a dif­fer­ence to people’s lives every day, sup­port­ing those who may be at their low­est ebb, and keep­ing the com­mu­ni­ties in which, they live healthy and safe.

But who helps the health work­ers when the stress­es of work, and life, become too much?

The CRANAplus Bush Sup­port Line is a 24/7 tele­phone ser­vice offer­ing free psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port for this crit­i­cal work­force, and their fam­i­lies. For decades, the ser­vice has been a life­line for those fac­ing per­son­al or work-relat­ed chal­lenges while deliv­er­ing essen­tial health ser­vices beyond Australia’s major cities. 

With Australia’s remote and rur­al com­mu­ni­ties reel­ing from the impact of COVID-19 and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters includ­ing bush­fires, drought and flood­ing, the pro­vi­sion of eas­i­ly acces­si­ble, mean­ing­ful sup­port for health work­ers has nev­er been more impor­tant, says not-for-prof­it organ­i­sa­tion CRANAplus, which pro­vides the Bush Sup­port Line as part of its suite of ser­vices for the remote, iso­lat­ed and rur­al health workforce.

It’s a com­mon trait of those who work in car­ing pro­fes­sions to put oth­ers first and to car­ry on regard­less of their own feel­ings of fatigue, wor­ry or stress,” says CRANAplus Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer Kather­ine Isbis­ter. But it’s also the case that health work­ers can face incred­i­bly chal­leng­ing and con­fronting sit­u­a­tions on any giv­en day — mean­ing they are more like­ly than oth­ers to need men­tal health and well­be­ing sup­port. I under­stand this from lived expe­ri­ence as a reg­is­tered nurse.”

CRANAplus recent­ly launched a new dig­i­tal cam­paign to remind Australia’s remote and rur­al health work­ers and their fam­i­lies that they don’t have to go it alone if they’re find­ing it dif­fi­cult to cope. A dig­i­tal toolk­it has been devel­oped for sup­port­ers to share, to help raise aware­ness that free, con­fi­den­tial sup­port from psy­chol­o­gists is avail­able to remote and rur­al health work­ers on 1800 805 391.

Health care pro­fes­sion­als are just a phone call away from the help they need,” says Ms Isbis­ter. We know that feel­ings of stress and anx­i­ety don’t just hap­pen dur­ing busi­ness hours. If you need sup­port in the mid­dle of the night, or at the week­end, our pro­fes­sion­al psy­chol­o­gists are there for you. Just call 1800 805 391 and let us make sense of what’s hap­pen­ing and offer strate­gies to improve your wellbeing.”

The Bush Sup­port Line is avail­able to any pro­fes­sion­al pro­vid­ing health care in remote or rur­al com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing nurs­es, doc­tors, mid­wives, Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander health work­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers, para­medics, aged care work­ers, allied health pro­fes­sion­als, interns and stu­dents. It is not restrict­ed to deal­ing with work­place issues. Health work­ers and their fam­i­lies can dis­cuss feel­ings of iso­la­tion or anx­i­ety, how to adjust to a new com­mu­ni­ty, or per­son­al challenges.

We want to remind peo­ple that it’s only human to need a bit of help every now and then, regard­less of how resilient you feel you may be,” Ms Isbis­ter says. The chal­lenges that remote and rur­al health work­ers face are very dif­fer­ent from those in larg­er region­al and urban areas, par­tic­u­lar­ly now that many are unable to trav­el or enjoy a bit of down time due to the pandemic.

We saw a sig­nif­i­cant rise in the num­ber of calls to the Bush Sup­port Line in 2020, so we know there is a huge need for this ser­vice. We want to encour­age every health work­er who needs help to give us a call.”

The Bush Sup­port Line is open 24 hours, sev­en days a week. The ser­vice is free of charge and callers can remain anony­mous if they choose. Call 1800 805 391.

Media inquiries
Con­tact: Denise Wilt­shire
Ph: 0419359325
E: denise@​crana.​org.​au