In response to the catastrophic flood emergency that continues to unfold in NSW’s Northern Rivers region, NSW LGBTQ health organisation ACON has launched a crisis support service that will be available for sexuality and gender diverse communities impacted by the disaster.
In announcing the new service, ACON’s Deputy CEO Karen Price said: “We know these events impact everyone in the community and result in psychological distress, physical and mental exhaustion, and financial hardship.
“This is a devastating event. We are seeing incredible acts of selflessness from some of our Lismore-based ACON staff who, despite their own needs, have been engaging with our communities in evacuation centres and other places of refuge in the area, supporting people in this crisis.
“However, the enormity of the situation requires far more support – so ACON has redeployed resources from our Sydney and Hunter offices to offer free, short-term support and assistance to LGBTQ people at this incredibly difficult time.”
The service will prioritise crisis support referrals from the Northern Rivers, offering phone or online support either for short-term counselling, initial assessment, and urgent psychological support, as well as care coordination to support people to link to local resources, information, and assistance (including financial assistance and accommodation). The service is expected to operate until mid-April and will be reassessed then.
ACON will promote the service online and through community press and networks, encouraging people to reach out if they are LGBTQ and in the Northern Rivers region and impacted by the floods.
“We know many will be worried about medication, food, clean water, and other immediate needs. We are, and will remain, connected to the broader emergency service response to help our communities navigate and link in with these essential services” Price added.
“While our communities are resilient, the scale of the damage and community impacts from this flood event are unprecedented in this region. The recovery will take time, and we know our community members will be reaching out to each other through their own networks, providing much-needed emotional and other support. We hope this assistance adds to that sense of community pulling together.”
Price urged people to continue to exercise caution and stay safe by checking alerts, heeding warnings and not entering flood waters.
“It’s important to add that given water levels are still dangerously high, the safely of our communities and everyone in Lismore and the Northern Rivers remains our top priority,” Price said.
“While it’s important to look after each other at the moment, we know the conditions are still very dangerous. So please prioritise your safety, including if you are checking on family, friends, and community members. If it's flooded, forget it – don’t drive through flood waters.”
ACON’s Lismore office is one of many premises inundated by water and will be closed until further notice.
To connect to this service, please call 1800 063 060 or visit aconhealth.org.au/intake_form
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
E: [email protected] T: (02) 9206 2044 M: 0428 477 042