Beyond the 2009 Gippsland bushfires: Acknowledgement and young rural adults' recovery

Rouve Jan Forbes, Margaret Simmons, Julie Willems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In 2009, four major bushfires destroyed vast areas of Gippsland in eastern Victorian including the areas around Delburn, Bunyip, Churchill and Wilsons Promontory, and are collectively known as the 2009 Gippsland bushfires. This paper explores how young adults in the rural areas are recovering from these bushfires and what psychosocial supports they perceive assists their recovery. A diversity of recovery experiences and needs were expressed reflecting that young adults are not a homogenous group. However, there were commonalities in their stories and they described the bushfires as being the most defining moment of their lives. Participants also reported low engagement with recovery supports, being ‘out of the loop’ when recovery information and support was distributed. Because young adults are often in the process of moving to or from the area because of life transitions such as relationships, jobs, study, or travel, participants reported exclusion from ‘placebased’ recovery supports. They reported ongoing emotional and physical health issues and exacerbation of chronic illness that had not been sufficiently acknowledged. Despite challenges in accessing important recovery supports, young adults in this study are moving forward with hope and optimism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Emergency Management
Volume33
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

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