Tuesday, 31 March 2009

More messages of gratitude from those who had a massage at the Healesville Staging Area.

• Thanks Girls you are a rainforest of tropical flowers Love from jThe Shoalhaven 15th Delta Crew 28/2
• Thankyou people it was great love ya Phillip Kellowol
• Knocked out by your generosity and efforts.
• Thanks to all it was great.
• Thankyou all for your fantastic hospitality & great treatment especially Claire for your magic massage. Maurie Poula
• WOW !!!!!!!! THANKYOU
• Fantastic work thanks heaps Tim “Yarrawa” Hunter Valley NSW
• Great Hands great job please come home with me to Willow Tree NSW
• Thanks Deb, good job and I didn’t even cry.. TR
• I Love U I feel so good Thanks Marc from Blue Knob RFS
• That was awesome thanx heaps Bilambil RFS for North Coast NSW
• Thanks for a great job I feel great. Bill
• Thankyou all much appreciated.. Dana Marueies
• So Burnie & all the girls, The Carlton Massage Shed in Healsville all the best & thanks don McKenzie
• To the Girls, You are all worth your weight in gold, thankyou so much, Dave Broughton Vale Berry & Shoalhaven.
• To the Massage Crew, A sensational Luxury for the weary fire fighters, Many thanks Ron Curralong/Shoalhaven
• Here here to above Mary Point Lookout. RFA
• Thankyou for your efforts, you do a great job.
• Fantastic experience, relaxing & soothing. Cheers
• Great massage, feel much relaxed.
• Thanks Guys for a sensational massage. Noel NSW AMBO
• Thank U guys from Matt Nobac NSW
• Thankyou, Owen NSW RFS
• Thankyou to all in the massage centre. Philip form Great Lakes
• Many thanks to you guys Love it!!! Keep up the good work!! Cheers Blair Catering Boss
• Everyone working together in there own way … THANKS
• It is great to have this service at the incident.. thanks feel fantastic. Eric Heyn Po Box 242, Euraka MT 59917. eheyn@fs.fed.us
• Thanks, guys the massage was great 4 body & sole. Thanks Rhonda Geoff Senior SCATI/C Paramedic ASNSW Evans Head.
• This was sensational, great massage keepup the good work.. Brad Stevens.
• Thanks Laura. Incredible massage, feel great. Geoff Senior
• Thankyou all the girl’s & guy’s for their fantastic work on our crew cheers from the North/West DSE Crew.
• Awsome Stuff, many thanks. Greatly appreciated.
• To Healsville staging area. Thankyou for improving adapting & overcoming all the difficulties. New England Crew.
• Thanks for your cheerfulness & wonderful help; you were sustenance for our bodies & spirts. Mard from Kentucky RFS
• To all the Guys that worked thanks for the laughs and great times it made it so easy.. Kathy Brown
• Nice to know that people would actually be heroes and helpers , encourages and also have a sense of humour in the mist of a very stressful situations actually exist and do their jobs very well.. Thanks for the Fun.. Noel
• I love you all and will never forget u.. xxx Clare
• To all the great people that helped look after a fantastic crew of firefighters and other .. I thankyou for your help.. Enormously.. Bernie Sullivan.. xxxx

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

APERN BULLETIN Tuesday 10th March, 2009

Hi Our Wonderful and Fantastic Team.
It’s been over a month since Black Saturday 7th February, 2009.
All but a few sites have closed down. Life for the volunteers is getting back to normal and the emergency situations have all but gone.
Angela Anderson.
Hands on Health would like to organise a get together and thank you event. Nothing too outrageous. It would be good if we can all see each other swap stories and see for ourselves how big we really were/ are.

Could any persons interested in assisting to co ordinate the function please let Vesna or Rickie know.

0402 733 443

So far we have a few helpers listed below but as we all know many hands make light work. Even a small job shared is valuable.

Ivan Peterson Venue
Dein V entertainment
Rickie Food & Drinks

We would like to stage this event within the next month. By end of April 09.

We are also asking volunteers to help to create a wish list for future emergency responses.

Wish List

Rickie Communication Education Funding
Dein strengthening the network of goodwill long-term help

Tuesday communications system. agreed protocols uniforms and ID

APERN. Committee meeting scheduled Friday 13th pm. Teleconference

A telephone conference would cut down on time and travel. Meeting minutes will be compiled by Emma and emailed to the committee distribution group when complete.

Database Update

Liz Lewis is updating the database regularly. To assist her, coordinators could kindly forward any new volunteer contact details to : apern09@yahoo.com.au , leogregor@gmail.com
Leo is the web master for the therapistunite blog.
Please, assist Leo with your stories.

Location Update:

Whittlesea. CLOSED

Contact details: Rickie Nuske: 0409 953 950 apern09@yahoo.com.au
This site is closed. Thanks to all volunteers that gave their time and energy to APERN it was greatly appreciated. Leo would love your comments.

Wesburn. CLOSED

A small band of practitioners which have done a wonderful job. They have massaged in excess or 150 personnel. Many thanks to all . Special thanks to Katherine whom will remained unnamed.

Healesville. CLOSED

This site is now closed and Bernie misses everyone.
Therapist have received flower,cards,much thanks including flashing lights & sirens.
Go Healesville Team……. apern09@yahoo.com.au
Contact details: Bernie Sullivan 0403 588 945 bernie@yvn.com.au
and Kathy Brown 0410 867 337 brown_holmes@optusnet.com.au

Woori Yallock

Woori Yallock is being coordinated by Judy Cousins and will close this Saturday.. The team there are to be congratulated for their massive efforts. They were there at the beginning and will be there to the end.
Contact details: Judy Cousins 5964 7004 or 0439 042 265
judy.cousins@tsn.cc or apern09@yahoo.com.au


Last weekend a group massaged Survivors at the Bullara Folk Festival. Contact the secretary Samantha Brick on 0427824722 18 therapists attended and provided over 90 massages. Well done folks. A Volunteers day is being planned in the not too distant future.

Massage for Survivors and Volunteers =
17 Hoyle Street, Morwell.
Saturday 14th March, 2009
Therapists required. 9am to 6pm working in 3 hr blocks.
Contact Jeff Robinson 0438070144.


Angela Palmer, local Kinglake Chinese Medicine Practitioner has been coordinating a volunteer response to residents & volunteers in Kinglake since 22nd February 2009. This response has been assisted by Angela Anderson, Ruth Marr & Rob Moore who initially provided treatments & coordinated rosters. Angela received many offers of assistance from volunteers responding to emails put out by other Kinglake local practitioners asking for help in her clinic. The volunteer response has run for two weeks with two to four volunteers providing a range of therapies including massage, osteopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, healing. The volunteers have been via APERN & local sources. With our assistance Angela was able to focus on getting her own business running & began treating again at the beginning of the second week. Angela is planning to continue the volunteer response until the end of March with two volunteers per day. She has a comprehensive list of volunteers to draw upon and is managing the roster with some assistance from a local practitioner. Angela has also organised for meditation groups & counselling to be available to residents in April, at her clinic, as the need for support changes.
Angela is still seeking support from APERN for practical things and will liaise with Rob Moore for these things. Angela Anderson is happy to remain in contact with Angela over the next few weeks to review how the response is meeting the needs of local residents and discuss the possible need for longer term responses for the community. Contact apern09@yahoo.com.au

Kinglake West

Rhonda McGibney a local Myotherapist has been coordinating a response to the local people of Kinglake West & Flowerdale. This is running from her home in Kinglake West (her usual place of business). Angela Anderson has been coordinating the roster for this response and both APERN & local volunteers have been utilised. One to two APERN volunteers per day have been providing massage alongside other local practitioners providing Bowen therapy, holistic counselling, Kinesiology. Rhonda is having a break over the next week while attending some training in Adelaide and plans to continue the response upon her return. At this stage she is unsure how long she will continue. Angela Anderson & Lyn Mulhearn (5th year chiro student) are able to continue to support Rhonda with the roster and other basic support at this stage. The idea of establishing a medium to long term community response to the residents in the area has been briefly touched on with Rhonda & Angela Palmer but no planning has begun.


Community Clinic Needed

Please contact APERN hotline if your interested in going to Flowerdale to set up a small weekly community clinic. Flowerdale residents are feeling left out and under resourced. Help is needed. Contact Vesna and
Julie Bateman 0418 589 072 julie.bateman67@bigpond.com


Contact Details Mary Cardwell. 54 4445005
Go Bendigo team, let us know if you need anything.


Holmesglen TAFE were ready to deploy Students & Staff for a 2 day clinic, however a phone call from the ICC cancelled that site. Thankyou Holmesglen Tafe for your efforts.


Nothing happened in Yea that we know of.

Contact details: If you know anything please tell us.

Kangaroo Ground Incident Command Centre. CLOSED

This site is closed thank to those wonderful Therapist whom where involved.
Contact Details Rickie Nuske 0409 953 950 apern09@yahoo.com.au


The Australian Practitioners Emergency Response Network (APERN) exists to help frontline emergency workers fulfill their duties in an emergency/critical incident and to support volunteers and victims in a caring and compassionate way. It emerged from the events of Black Saturday, the 8th February, 2009 when extensive bush fires in resulted in over 200 deaths.

All practitioners are volunteers, the majority of those at the work face being qualified individuals from alternate health disciplines such as massage therapy, Shiatsu, Reiki, Bowen, sports massage, chiropractor, physiotherapist etc; some practitioner volunteers are advanced students. In addition there are many volunteers assisting with matters such as administration and transport of practitioners and their equipment. There is no restriction on who might volunteer except that treatment provided must be consistent with qualifications and experience.

The ultimate goal is a network of practitioner and support volunteers who rapidly respond to emergencies in a flexible manner that is appropriate for both the circumstances and the culture of those being assisted.

To provide a rapid response to emergencies and critical incidents that is flexible and adapts to circumstances with due regard to assistance required and resources available while taking advice from local leaders/workers and recognizing the over arching clear and unequivocal authority of the Incident/Emergency Controller (usually the police).

• Always recognizing the clear and unequivocal authority of the Incident/Emergency Controller (usually the police) and taking directives as required.
• Always consulting with and taking advice from local leaders and workers.
• Flexible, realizing that we cannot control an emergency response and that the pathways to achieve our mission will always change.
• Using skills and resources appropriate to the situation, while being flexible and recognizing that different techniques may be used by volunteers.
• Highest ethical and professional standards and actions, with compliance to our protocols, standard of documentation, confidentiality and code of ethics.
• Aware of the need to look after each other and be supportive and helpful at all times, recognizing that volunteers may become stressed due to the emotional nature of the emergency, hard work and lack of sleep, and accordingly be tolerant of other volunteers.
• Aware of the need to maintain a reasonably balanced life style during the emergency, with due regard for personal needs.
• Aware that professional counseling may be required for self and others.
• Accountable, fulfilling our responsibilities and obligations with fairness & honesty while being aware of cultural differences
• A frugal culture, but not to the extent of unnecessarily hindering spending
• Treating people with respect and dignity in the care/services we provide and the relationships we nurture
• Maintaining focus on mission, objectives and any targeted outcomes
• Constantly seeking to increase our knowledge by reflecting on our past experiences, as well as discovering new approaches
• Making a difference by providing real benefits to people with real needs
• Forming collaborative partnerships with member, Government and other like-minded organizations
• When and where possible, measuring outputs and recording outcomes to the extent possible without prejudicing the intended outcome.
• Vigilant to ensure that unqualified people are not allowed to provided treatment beyond their capabilities and experience.
• Recognition that a “100% solution” may be inappropriate as speed could be of the essence, and hence rapid deployment may require compromise.
• Learning from experience with each emergency to modify processes as required, and to ensure the APERN Manual is updated appropriately.
• Risk aware, ensuring that all volunteers are aware that neither Hands On Health nor APERN provide insurance, and as such practitioners and those involved with transport in the area of the emergency will need to be advised to notify their insurance provider of their involvement.
• To establish and document a formal APERN committee for each specific emergency/incident.
• To utilize the existing APERN Manual as a basis for a Manual appropriate for the specific emergency.
• To use the data base and other lists of relevant individuals to locate and rapidly deploy the group of volunteers in a structure based on that in the APERN Manual, with Coordinators appointed as deemed appropriate by the APERN Committee.
• To establish close ties with organizations such as the Police Force, CFA, SES, Salvation Army, Society of St Vincent de Paul, Rotary International and other bodies who are active in providing support during the emergency
• To ensure that the best possible care and support are provided commensurate with resources available and demand
• To collect and share quality advice on treatment of our customers
• Where feasible and where possible, to create and foster links amongst the customers by providing opportunities for interaction
• To foster and maintain links that help us achieve our mission.
• To achieve our mission through innovation and influence.
• To ensure the data base is updated between emergencies.
• To ensure the APERN Manual is updated as and when required to reflect the benefit of experience.

Organization Schematic
The next page is a schematic chart showing the structure as it seems to be emerging from the February 2009 bush fires in Victoria. As can be seen, the APERN Committee is a Hands On Health Australia Board Committee (As a Board Committee there needs to be at least two Directors from Hands On Health. If there are no HOHA Directors it will be a HOHA Board Sub-committee.) The following chart is as applied by the second week of the fires.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Therapists & Practitioners unite to volunteer for the Victorian Bush Fire Appeal.

Therapists Unite coordinated by Hands on Health Australia

This blog Therapists Unite coordinated by Hands on Health Australia has been set up as the main information site for all tactile therapists wanting to volunteer for the Victorian Bush Fire Appeal.

Are you a therapist wanting to volunteer at a relief site?

If you are able to offer immediate assistance, then please telephone our registration hotline on 0402 733 443.

Otherwise, please email us at unitedtherapists@gmail.com with ALL of the following information, please include all info as we have streamlined our database to coordinate a streamlined effort:

  • Your Name
  • Your Modality
  • Your Mobile or Best Contact Number
  • Your Email Address
  • What equipment you have, whether that is a massage table, a seated massage chair or both.
  • What region are you able to travel to - Whittlesea, Yea, Alexandra, Gippsland, Healesville, Wesburn, other, or any.
  • What days/times over the next 10 days are you available?

This relief effort is going to last months, please be patient as we process our database and co-ordinate teams so that the effort is widespread and even across the board. We will be setting up long-term clinics.

If you add your name to the volunteer list now this means that you will be on a Hands on Helath Australia Database indefinitly. In the much longer term we will coordinate a Hands on Health Australia "Emergency Response Committee" Placing your name on the volunteer list not only means that you are eager to help out in the short term, but that you will actively support the co-ordination of likewise events in years to come in whatever capacity you can.

Are you a Practitioner/College/Company running your own Bushfire Appeal Fundraiser?

If you are you a practitioner running your own fundraising event please email the details to unitedtherapists@gmail.com so that we can put them on this blog. If you are a volunteer we urge you to contact these fundraisers and support them if we can't utilise you at relief sites on days you have forwarded to us.

Thankyou everyone for your support and expertise, please be patient as we are doing our best to coordinate this in a professional and active, yet deliberate way.

Yours Sincerely,

Hands on Health Australia

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Therapist Story

Like many I found myself sitting and watching the fires ravage this beautiful state of ours.

I cried as I saw houses burn to the ground and as the death toll rose. 

Never in my 33 years of life had I been so touched by the images I saw appearing around me. I saw men and women selflessly put their life in danger to save the lives and properties of others and I felt helpless. I saw people walking circles shocked by the experiences that had stolen a part of their life so suddenly and I felt useless. Helpless and useless I sat wanting to play my part in helping those who had lost so much or to thank those who had done so much.

For many their hands were tired. They had the will, but not a skill and were left feeling frustrated that donating money was just not enough.

One year ago I finished my training as a remedial massage therapist. Today I am ever so grateful for that. I am able to offer a skill to people in need. To people whose bodies were crumbling under them from sheer exhaustion.

Sunday I was placed at the Healesville Staging Area. Most of the people attending that area are CFA, DSE and Melbourne Water staff who have been battling to keep their beautiful town safe for days on end. Supported by CFA from Victoria at large and  NSW, the good people of Healesville have sat on guard since shortly after the fires began. Exhausted and weary; one by one emergency service workers began to appear at the door of our make shift 'massage clinic'. Smelling of smoke and covered in ash and dirt they were more than happy to find a table to lay on and have their over worked muscles massaged. Seven of us that day manned massage tables and chairs and still we had to turn worthy people away. I only wish we'd had more hands on deck to offer more massages to more people. They deserved every bit of sweat we shed in that hot converted football change room.

As a bright red sun amidst a smoke filled sky set over the hills of the Yarra Valley and even until this moment the thing that overwhelms me most about my experience in Healesville was the gratitude from those people whom we were massaging to thank for what they were doing. Offering us gifts of chocolates and wanting to donate or pay for our services, they didn't even realise that we were there to pay them a debt of gratitude for the hard work they were doing. It's a shame that it's times like this that it shows most, but it's amazing and humbling to see the Australian spirit that pays not a second thought to helping out a mate.

Reflection by Leo - Remedial Massage Therapist

Hands on Health and APERN

Hands on Health Australia &
APERN: Australian Practitioners Emergency Response Network.

Stop Press.

Sunday 15th Feb 2009

Currently there are 8 practitioner emergency response centers set up in the bushfire affected areas that are providing stress management massage therapy, chiropractic and osteopathic care to the states emergency workers and support crews and volunteers that are still fighting fires and assisting communities to manage the disasters.

Therapists and practitioners have united from all different industry groups and associations to come under the banner of Hands on Health and provide a structured and timely response to the devastating fires. And lend a hand.

If you have a spare few hours or days and would like to assist the teams contact Kallika Bruce on 0402 733 443. We need help urgently.

The immediate needs change from day to day and from relief centre to relief centre with short term needs being addressed as required. The longer term needs will be the challenge and we are in the beginnings of moving from crisis management at the emergency relief centers to establishing survivor centers within the affected towns’ communities.

Media enquiries call Emma Gierschick on 0411030835

Saturday, 14 February 2009


Fundraising BBQ in South Melbourne

When: Sunday February 22 - 1pm
Where: The Water Rat Hotel - 256 Moray St, South Melbourne

Entry is by gold coin donation.

There will be a BBQ and loads to do throughout the day - bring your family along and have some fun!

For BOOKINGS ONLY - (03) 9686 1980
Other enquiries EMAIL - vicfiresupport@live.com.au

UPDATE: Hi Everyone.
Just a quick update - as much as it is deeply appreciated, I don't need anymore offers of time. :) The venue is suitably staffed, and setting up etc wont be a problem. The only things I am still in need of are stall HOLDERS, raffle items, and perhaps people who can run activities - I have a facepainter on board, but thats it. Maybe someone with access to a carnival style game? Nothing too large though. And if anybody can get me some celebrity endorsement, or can perhaps send a public figure down for the day to join in the fun, that would be fantastic!


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

February 7th - The Blackest Day in Australia's history.

In response to the devastating fires which have ravaged Victoria, destroying homes and taking far too many lives; Therapists Unite in conjunction with Hands on Health Australia have come to the aid of tired emergency service workers and those people who have lost so much in this tragedy. Offering massage amongst other therapies to help revitalise weary bodies and tired minds. It's the least we (therapists and practitioners) can do to say thanks to those people who are selflessly defending the state of Victoria and to let those who feel like they have lost so much know that we are here for them.