Donna Boughton (Moree Mental Health Lived Experience Worker

Regrowth Workshops to Help Fire-Ravaged Communities

Two years on from the bushfires of 2019 which devastated the tiny community of Wytalibah and battered Glen Innes, locals are still putting the pieces back together. The grass may be greener but for many, the trauma remains near the surface.

A free upcoming Regrowth workshop next Thursday, November 11, seeks to help the community work through the fallout of multiple natural disasters and learn how to prepare emotionally for similar threats.

“We have the practical plans of preparing for bushfires, but we want to emotionally prepare for it too,” said HealthWISE Mental Health Lived Experience Worker Donna Boughton. She said it wasn’t about being pessimistic, simply being ready for any eventuality. “If we feel in control and safe and have a plan within ourselves, we can better manage the more practical sides of things.”

Running from 9.30-3.30pm at the Glen Innes Bowling Club, a range of service providers and financial assistance counsellors will be on hand to provide support. Event-goers will learn more about how their mind and body reacts to disasters, and ongoing effects that can take place months or even years later. The day will focus on how to cope with anxiety and stress, and preparing emotionally for unexpected disasters.

A Rural Fire Service volunteer will speak on his own experiences during the bushfires. Participants will also work on a collective art project on the theme of ‘putting the pieces back together’.

Morning tea and lunch will be provided, and there will be a chance to simply relax and spend time socialising with one another. Farmgate, Tamworth Family Support Services, Centacare Youth, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and members of the HealthWISE nursing, mental health and Indigenous health teams are all expected to take part.

“It’s a combination of enjoying a social situation, being able to talk about and be aware of what’s going on within when we face disaster, managing it when we’re going through it, and finally, learning how to heal.” Donna said.

Numbers are limited, so locals are encouraged to register soon via Eventbrite or call Donna for more information on 0437 961 137.

The Glen Innes event will be the first in a series of Regrowth workshops, with the next to be held at the Armidale Bowling Club on November 25. Workshops will also run in Tenterfield, Walcha, Bingara and Inverell.

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