Scott Morrison has conceded there are things he could have handled better in terms of the devastating bushfires.
The prime minister – who on Sunday announced a new $76 million package to provide counselling to firefighters and residents in affected communities – has come under criticism for not doing enough at a national level to prepare for the bushfires which have taken the lives of 28 Australians.
Mr Morrison, who plans to take a proposal for a bushfires royal commission to cabinet in coming weeks, has also faced insults and anger from locals as he visited bushfire-hit areas.
"There are things I could have handled on the ground much better," Mr Morrison told ABC TV.
"These are sensitive, emotional environments.
"Prime ministers are flesh and blood too in how they engage with these people.
"When I went there I went there in good faith, with Jenny on occasions, to provide what consolation I could. They're very strained environments... you would do things differently and learn from every event, but the important thing is the actions we have taken."
Mr Morrison said the scale of the bushfires was "unprecedented" and had created a situation in which Australians were demanding a greater response from the federal government than had been provided in the past.
"That was not something that was recommended going into this fire season," he said.
"There is a very new appetite, a very new expectation."
Mr Morrison said his government had acted on all recommendations put to it before the bushfire season.
He said the mental health package would ensure communities could address the traumatic emotional toll the bushfires have had on people.
"We need to ensure the trauma and mental health needs of our people are supported in a way like we never have before," he said.
Free counselling sessions will be available through recovery centres and Service Australia sites to address short-term trauma.
Youth-focused Headspace will get $7.4 million to boost services in 12 fire-ravaged regions and to speed-up the construction of its Batemans Bay centre.
Firefighters and other emergency personnel will be able to access more intensive support through better-funded specialist organisations.
Almost $30 million will go to boosting telehealth services and doubling the number of free psychological therapy sessions bushfire-affected people can access through Medicare.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Head to Health.
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