Drought – Helping hands in times of need

Mr Evan Morris1

1Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECCPHN), Gunnedah, Australia



Approximately 75% of the Hunter New England region is experiencing drought with over 60% of people in the New England North West region experiencing intense drought. Identifying and supporting people and clinicians in drought-affected communities is a key priority for the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECCPHN). Clinicians in this area are very familiar with HealthPathways. Evidence from two evaluations and google analytics data have confirmed that the majority of general practice clinicians use HealthPathways on a regular basis to access relevant, up-to-date assessment, management and referral information.

What is happening?

In 2018 the HNECCPHN established a Drought Working Party to collaboratively engage with health professionals, organisations and community members to determine what was needed to support drought-affected individuals and communities. The Hunter New England (HNE) Community HealthPathways team liaised with this working party to develop a clinical pathway for clinicians to identify and care for patients presenting with mental health issues arising from disasters or adverse weather events. A Drought Support Services referral page was also developed which describes all the services and resources that patients and families can access for information and support to prepare for and manage drought conditions, including such things as animal welfare, financial support, administration, mental health and social well-being, and personal support and assistance. This referral page can also be publically accessed via our Patient Information portal.


The HNE HealthPathways team has collaboratively contributed to the development and maintenance of healthier rural and remote communities by producing resources to support primary health clinicians in the care of patients adversely affected by drought. These resources can be easily adapted and applied to assist clinicians, people and communities in other rural and remote regions.


Evan Morris has been employed as a Community HealthPathways Project Officer for the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECCPHN) for the past 5 years. He has worked in a rural setting for over 15 years and has extensive experience in project management, clinical reporting, service directory development and testing, and system integration. Email address: emorris@hneccphn.com.au