Supporting bushfire recovery six months on

Published: 16 September 2019

Six months after a bushfire or major emergency is often a major milestone for impacted communities. It’s when people start to realise there is still a great deal of recovery work to do, which can lead to fatigue.

Clinical Psychologist David Younger, who is working with bushfire-affected communities across Cardinia Shire and the wider Gippsland area, said this was an important time to check in with friends and neighbours and think about your own recovery.

“It is important for community members to start to reintroduce balance into their lives and to make time for other important activities, such as spending quality time with family and friends,” Mr Younger said.

“Experience tells us that around the six-month mark people start to feel tired and sometimes irritable and angry from the physical and emotional turmoil they’ve experienced.

“If you know someone who is struggling, it’s a good idea to check in on them to see if they are ok. Conversations about traumatic events and how people are coping can feel uncomfortable, but it’s important to let people know you are there for them. Sometimes, just giving people an opportunity to feel heard is enough to make a big difference.”

Cardinia Shire Mayor Councillor Graeme Moore said Council continued to provide assistance for residents in the fire-affected areas, and encouraged people to reach out and access the free support that is available.

“The bushfire recovery centre continues to operate at the Tonimbuk Hall supported by range of services and Council is producing a regular community newsletter informing residents in fire-affected areas of the latest news and opportunities for assistance,” Cr Moore said.

“Council staff and a number of other services will remain in the local area providing support, advice, community meals and range of other services as the clean-up and rebuilding work continues.”

The bushfire case support program, established by the Victorian Government, continues to help people navigate the support services available including mental health services, family violence support, and services for repairing and rebuilding damaged properties.