Media releases

January 17, 2011

Support for customers affected by the floods

The devastating effects of the floods in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are widespread. We are committed to supporting our customers, employees and communities during this very difficult time.

Medibank's flood relief package includes:

  • the establishment of a free 24-hour counselling hotline in Queensland for Medibank members and the broader community
  • premium relief for Medibank Private and ahm members affected by the floods in Queensland and Victoria
  • $250,000 donation to assist with relief efforts in Queensland and gift-matching for staff donations
  • working with hospitals to assist members to find accommodation if they are unable to return to their homes after being discharged from a hospital stay.

Retail Centres:
Medibank is available to all our members and customers. If you have questions or require assistance with your private health, pet, life or travel insurance, please call us on 132 331.

All Medibank Private retail stores except our Brisbane City Post Office Square store remain open in Queensland and we are encouraging customers with any questions to either visit a store or call us on 132 331 with enquiries about going to hospital, making claims and other information about their health insurance. Similarly, all Medibank Health Solutions operations, including the Medibank Rapid Care Clinic in Cannon Hill, remain open.

In Victoria all retail centres and agencies are operating.

Medibank is here to help:
Medibank is providing financial assistance in the form of premium relief to members affected by the floods. Those who require assistance or have a general enquiry about their cover are encouraged to phone Medibank on 132 331.

Medibank is also working with hospitals to help members who are being discharged with suitable alternative accommodation if they are unable to return to their homes due to flooding. We are working with hospitals to help our members who have been evacuated and relocated to other hospitals as a result of the flood crisis.

If you are booked in for hospital treatment in a flood affected area please call the hospital or your physician directly to confirm your appointment.

Like many companies, a number of Medibank staff members have been severely impacted by the floods. Medibank is committed to supporting customers, employees and communities during this difficult time and will work to help get them back on their feet.

24-Hour telephone counselling hotline:
As a priority, Medibank has set up of a free 24-hour telephone hotline to provide counselling for people experiencing psychological or emotional distress as a result of the floods. Following the initial shock of the floods and once the floods subside, people may experience longer-term psychological effects such as depression and anxiety disorders.

If you are in Queensland, you can access our services through the Queensland's government's 13 HEALTH (13 432 584) telephone line. This support is free of charge to all members of the community.

If you are in Victoria and wish to speak to a mental health professional, please call 1300 280 737.

Health tips for those living or working in flood affected areas
We have all been encouraged by the Australian spirit and the overwhelming number of volunteers who are giving their time and efforts to help get flood-ravaged areas back on their feet.

Volunteers need to ensure their own health is protected. The main health risks while working in flood impact areas include:

  • injuries such as falls, skin lacerations or snake and spider bites
  • skin infections and sunburn, and
  • mosquito borne infections.

It is recommended that those who have been working in Flood cleanup have a tetanus booster. Immunisation for hepatitis A is not recommended routinely, Hepatitis A is not a risk for emergency responders, even if they do come into contact with sewage-contaminated floodwaters. Hepatitis A virus is only present in sewage if hepatitis A is circulating in the community - and it is not. However, there may be some particular circumstances where this might be warranted.

Food safety:

  • If the power is off for more than 24 hours, and the freezer has not been stocked with ice, food will start to spoil and should be eaten immediately or thrown out.
  • Throw out any food that has been in contact with flood water.
  • Throw out any food that has started to spoil, especially if it smells bad, tastes strange or is slimy. If in doubt throw it out!

Sandflies and mosquitoes may become a real nuisance as floodwaters recede. In addition, some mosquitoes may carry diseases such as Ross River virus. Wear long sleeves and long pants and apply insect repellent.

Safe drinking water:
if a secure supply of drinking water is not available, then available water will need to be boiled or sterilised using chlorine. The Queensland Government Fact Sheet Ensuring safe drinking water contains specific details about how this can be achieved.

Supporting people affected by the floods
Some degree of apprehension about the future, and mourning for what has been lost is normal, and many people find it helpful to be able to talk through their experience. However, people will talk in their own time, and they should not be forced if they choose not to talk about their experience at this time. If the distress is extreme or prolonged (over two weeks), then they should be encouraged to seek professional assistance. Details of the 24-hour counselling hotline set out above.

Those who have not been directly affected can assist by providing both physical and psychological support. Just being there when help is needed, or being available to listen can help.

24-Helpful website links

Queensland floods:

Victorian floods:

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