Content provided by Phoenix Australia
Australian communities have seen more than their fair share of disaster.
Massive and widespread flooding across coastal regions of eastern Australia in early 2022, which took place in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, has also impacted regions that were still recovering from the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires. Reports of the unfolding consequences of these compounding disasters have been painfully familiar to communities in other parts of Australia, which have similarly endured successive impacts of drought, bushfires, and the pandemic.
With growing recognition of the increased likelihood and frequency of disasters and public health emergencies in the context of a changing climate, the National Mental Health Commission have asked Phoenix Australia, the National Centre of Excellence in Posttraumatic Mental Health, to speak with and record the stories of individuals from communities that have endured impacts of COVID-19 and multiple disasters.
“We were beginning to understand how communities recover from major disasters, such as the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires,” says Professor Meaghan O’Donnell, Head of Research at Phoenix Australia, and leading expert in post-disaster mental health.
“Wellbeing trajectories change over time, and while many people are tremendously resilient, there can be signs of lasting mental health problems that are visible for many years. We know that needs for mental health support are often long-term and peak around anniversary events, and it’s critical that we reduced barriers to accessing support and early intervention.”
Phoenix Australia is inviting community members and helping professionals from regional NSW, Victoria and South Australia to take part in online interviews and focus groups that aim to improve understanding of and responses to the mental health and social impacts of multiple disasters.
The findings will provide valuable information by helping researchers and the National Mental Health Commission to understand the impacts and needs of those affected by floods and the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as identify opportunities to improve responses to multiple disasters.
An information flyer is available here
and participants can register their interest here
is Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Posttraumatic Mental Health. Our staff are international experts in posttraumatic mental health and advocates for the use of evidence-based responses following trauma to reduce the mental health effects on survivors, their families and the community.