See More

New Medicare items to support those affected by bushfires

From DHS Website

People affected by bushfires can access mental health treatment from mental health professionals, including Accredited Mental Health Social Workers, without a referral or mental health treatment plan from 17 January. You’ll be able to claim these items from 17 January 2020 to 31 December 2021.

If you need support before 17 January, use existing mental health treatment items. Your will need to meet the current eligibility requirements, including GP referrals.

Patients who are eligible may be:

  • individuals or families who have been impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires
  • responders or emergency management employees or volunteers who worked during the 2019-20 bushfires.

Patients in rural and remote areas affected by bushfires can also get Medicare rebated counselling and psychological support through video telehealth services.

Patients can get up to 10 treatment services each year, between 1 January and 31 December. You can keep seeing them if they’ve used all 10 services, but they won’t get Medicare benefits.

The 10 services are available to patients with an existing mental health treatment plan (MHTP) under the Better Access to Mental Health initiative. They don’t affect their claiming limits under that plan.

This is part of the Government's Mental Health Response to Bushfire Trauma and more information is provided in the attached fact sheets. If you require any further information please contact

Medicare Bushfire Recovery item numbers

Social worker item numbers for face-to-face sessions include: 91150, 91155, 91160, 91165 and social worker item numbers for telehealth are: 91151 and 91161.

Information for Australians who have been affected by bushfires

Mental health support for Australians affected by the 2019–20 bushfires

Australian Government Mental Health Response to Bushfire Trauma


Following on from the new Medicare items in response to the unprecedented bushfire crisis, the Australian Association of Social Workers has welcomed an announcement from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) it will mirror the MBS Bushfire Recovery Items and provide vital mental health support to the veteran community.

All of DVA’s usual mental health services remain in place, however, DVA will now also mirror new MBS mental health supports available under the Bushfire Recovery Access Initiative.

Bushfire affected clients are now able to access a maximum of 10 mental health services per calendar year without a GP referral. Clients do not require a diagnosed mental health condition to access these services and should self-identify as being impacted by the ongoing bushfire disaster. These sessions may be provided by accredited mental health social workers, and also a general practitioner, psychologist, clinical psychologist or mental health occupational therapist. The DVA treatment cycle arrangements do not apply to these services. However, after accessing 10 sessions, DVA clients who require ongoing mental health support may access further services through usual health card arrangements, including the usual treatment cycle referral arrangements.

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) are recognised providers with Medicare Australia and other programs, delivering clinical social work services in mental health settings and utilising a range of evidence-based strategies.

AMHSWs work with people across the lifespan (including children, adults and older persons) and provide a unique contribution to the mental health space in their holistic approach to working with a person. The advanced training that is expected of AMHSW prepares and provides them with the skills for working with people with very complex presentations and co-morbidities. AMHSWs are highly trained and educated professionals, meeting some of the highest standards of professional regulation in Australia.

Find a social worker near you

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers have a breadth of experience in assessing and treating people who have mental health disorders, for example people with:

  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Relationship problems
  • Life crises
  • Adjustment issues
  • Trauma
  • Family conflicts

They help individuals to resolve presenting psychological problems, the associated social and other environmental problems, and improve their quality of life. This may involve family as well as individual counselling, and group therapy. Social workers recognise the broader implications of an individual having a mental illness and the impact on friends, family, work and education.

Read more about what the AASW has been doing as part of the recovery effort

Accredited Mental Health Social Worker credential and logo

The Accredited Mental Health Social Worker Collective credential and logo is also a gold standard in professional recognition. Use of this logo is exclusively available and restricted to members of the AASW who have been assessed by the AASW, on behalf of the Australian Government, as meeting the standards to become an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker.

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers Qualifications, skills and experience

Learn more about the skills, training and experience of Accredited Mental Health Social Workers by accessing our recently published report.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers