Christchurch terror attack: More than 500 people access phone counselling support

6:38 pm on 18 March 2019

Hundreds of people have accessed counselling support available through a free telephone service, following the mosque shootings on Friday.

Close up of a man using mobile smart phone

Photo: 123rf

The Ministry of Health and other government departments have given an update on their response to the massacre.

The briefing included representatives from Civil Defence, the Ministry of Education, ACC, and the Ministry of Social Development.

There had been a huge increase in the use of the 1737 line from people in Canterbury, and across the country, the Health Ministry's director general Ashley Bloomfield said.

Yesterday, 544 people got in touch, about five times more than usual, and so far today 300 people had contacted the support line.

That included people caught up in the attack, and others from across the country.

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black said there had been an outpouring of grief locally and from overseas, but now as bodies were prepared for burial, families deserved respect and privacy.

A community support hub would move to the Canterbury Horticultural Sector near Hagley Park. It would have representatives from ACC, Red Cross, Ministry of Social Development, Civil Defence and victim support.

Emergency visas were being facilitated for people whose family members had been injured or killed.

When it came to psychosocial support, the district health board was leading local support, which had excellent services, Mr Bloomfield said.

The Ministry of Health expected to have to provide extra support in Canterbury over the next six to eight weeks, and beyond that.

Meanwhile ACC's chief governance officer Deborah Roche wanted to remind people who were injured, or families of people who had died, of the funding they could access.

People unsure about what they could get, could call 0800 080 273 to reach a team of experts in Christchurch.

Funding covered things like funeral costs, compensation for people who could not work, and supports like transport, home assistance, and child care if needed.

Ms Roche said ACC would go to extra lengths to make sure the injured and families of those killed in the mosque shootings were aware of what they were entitled to.

Schools were locked down after Friday's attack, and some had been impacted by the shootings, either by losing students, or parents of students at the school.

Sixty-two schools and early childcare education centres had been in touch asking for help following the attack.

The Ministry of Education's Iona Halsted said 20 of those schools had been prioritised.

"We have traumatic incident teams, they comprise people who are trained in understanding the impacts of trauma, and how behaviours change after trauma."