With the threat of increasing bushfires blazing in NSW, it came to our attention that, as mental health counsellors, professionals and proud citizens, we should join in the emergency task force to offer counselling as a relief to our community. To date, at the end of 2019, many people around NSW have either lost their property, were forced out of their homes or had to evacuate their hometown due to bushfires. In as much as people know and plan their fire evacuation in advance, this can still be very upsetting for many, especially at this time of the year. Bushfire victims and firefighting crew members have reported the trauma and grief they experience after being in affected areas that resemble apocalyptical times.
According to Beyond Bushfires, six-year research on the Victorian Black Saturday Bushfires conducted by the Child Health and Wellbeing Program at the University of Melbourne, the long-term mental health impact on victims of the affected areas is something that cannot be ignored. Lead researcher and director Jack Brockhoff emphasize the importance of mental health services being made available to the community and to firefighting teams as part of disaster recovery plans.
“ The Beyond Bushfires mental health report surveyed more than 1,000 people who were impacted by the 2009 Victorian fires that killed 173 people and damaged or destroyed more than 2,100 homes.