The Australian Government has announced that people who live or work, or have lived or worked, in the Williamtown Investigation Areas (click on link to access map) are eligible for a free blood test for Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
The Voluntary Blood Testing Program will run concurrently with an epidemiological study and free blood testing will be available to eligible individuals until 31 March 2018.
Am I eligible for a PFAS blood test under the Voluntary Blood Testing Program?
The Australian Government will fund a single voluntary PFAS blood test for those people who live or work, or have lived or worked, in the investigation areas of Williamtown and Oakey. This includes people currently living elsewhere who previously lived or worked at these places.
To obtain a free blood test under this program, you will be required to sign a Statutory Declaration to confirm your eligibility. This Statutory Declaration will confirm that you currently live or work, or have previously lived or worked in one of the Investigation Areas.
How do I get my blood tested under the Voluntary Blood Testing Program?
As with any other blood test you must go to your GP to discuss having a blood test.
Both this pre-test GP consultation and a post-test consultation will be provided free to eligible people. Arrangements have been made for GPs to be paid for the consultations through the Hunter New England Central Coast (HNECC) Primary Health Network (PHN), and no other payment will be required.
The GP will provide you with a specially marked pathology request form.
You must take this request form and the Statutory Declaration to a Sonic Healthcare (Sonic) Pathology Collection Centre. Sonic will need the Statutory Declaration to appropriately bill the Australian Government for the cost of the test.
Free counselling sessions are available
Incidents such as those that have occurred in Williamtown, can trigger a wide variety of responses over time including anger, anxiety, fear, sadness and confusion. There is no wrong or right way to respond to things like this, and all these responses are perfectly normal when faced with major life stressors. It is important to remember though, that prolonged exposure to stress and these types of feelings associated with it, can have a long term negative affect on both your physical and mental health. We know that strong social connections and communities go a long way in supporting health and wellbeing in difficult times. When entire communities are affected by high levels of stress, individuals can feel isolated and unable to rely on their traditional supports due to not wanting to add to the stress of others. A combination of prolonged stress and isolation can result in a decline in your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
HNECC PHN has commissioned free and confidential counselling services, using our network of private providers, specifically to support the needs of current and past residents and community members of the affected Williamtown area. These services are private and the PHN does not collect any personal information regarding participants accessing these services other than basic unidentifiable, demographic data. Patients do not have to have had a blood test to access these free counselling sessions.
Whilst we encourage eligible people to engage with their GP in the referral process to this service, community members are free to self-refer directly to our private providers. This service is available to anyone affected by the Williamtown PFAS incident whether they currently live in the area or not. Providers are available at times that suit you to provide free confidential counselling across the Hunter, New England or Central Coast regions.
A list of the contracted mental health providers is attached to the Resources section on this page. If you now reside out of these areas, please contact the PHN and we can arrange a private provider in your preferred location.