I had a heartbreaking phone call on Monday. A really caring and community-minded woman from the NSW South Coast explained why things were so desperate.
In her town, there were still 420 people living in an evacuation centre. Many were dairy farmers who had lost their houses, were without electricity, and many of their cows had died or were gravely injured.
She explained that earlier that day a number of farmers had to shoot their injured cows because they were in pain and would not survive. Having spent many of my school holidays working on a dairy farm, I knew how close farmers become to their cows. Each cow is called by name at milking, and they have their own unique personalities. The farmers were understandably devastated by having to euthanise them.
The woman was desperately seeking counselling for these people. With resources stretched so thinly, it is hard to know how to help.
This is just one of the thousands of stories of desperate people, and those wanting to help. I have done my best to keep her informed of the services that are available.
I thought other people may benefit from these resources so have listed them below.
In times like this is easy to feel overwhelmed. If we each do what we can, where we can, when we can – we can make a difference.
Please see the resources below which have been put together by Australia’s mental health charities and the government.
Beyondblue: Bush fires and mental health
This is an excellent summary of how people might be feeling and what is available to them. It includes:
- Common reactions
- Dealing with the emotional impact of a bushfire
- Australian government response to the bushfire crisis (including links)
- National helplines and childcare services
- How to deal with traumatic stress
- PTSD: signs, symptoms, and available treatments
- Support for children and young people
- How to talk with children about new events
- Impact on businesses and employees
- How you can help
- Wildlife rescue links and numbers
R U OK?
- Where to find help
- Are they Triple OK?’ is an R U OK? campaign focused on peer and social support for police and emergency services workers nationwide. Resources are free to download from the website (https://www.ruok.org.au/triple-ok)
- ‘How to ask’ – details the steps to help people navigate a conversation with someone they think might be struggling.
LIFELINE: Recovering after a natural disaster
- Tool Kit: Getting through bushfires, drought and extreme climate events
- Tool Kit: Helping your children cope after a bushfire
- Tool Kit: Coping with loss and change in the community after a bushfire
- Tool Kit: Coping with Grief and Loss
- Strategies to help you cope after a natural disaster
- Helping children cope after a natural disaster
Red Cross: Resources for disasters
- Prepare for disasters
- Respond to disasters
- Recover from disasters
- Useful links
Federal government Disaster Assistance
- One-off Disaster Recovery Payment
- Short-term income support Disaster Recovery Allowance
- Health advice – To speak to a registered nurse, call healthdirect’s 24-hour health advice number at 1800 022 222.