If life is in danger
call 000

Recovering after a natural disaster

“Treat yourself with the most kindness that you could possibly give yourself. The things that you're feeling, a lot of people are feeling right now and you're not alone in it. It's really important that you recognise that what you're going through is not a journey you have to do alone, and there will be people there around you.” Survivor of the Black Saturday fires, Chris Bogusis, shares his story on the Holding on to Hope podcast.

Natural disasters like bushfires, floods, cyclones, drought and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for many people across the community. People will have varied physical and/or emotional reactions following a natural disaster. For some, it may feel overwhelming and become difficult to cope.

Below are some ways that natural disasters may impact you or others:

  • Feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted or confused
  • Feeling sad, overwhelmed or angry
  • Shock, feeling ‘numb’
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Feeling lonely, isolated or withdrawn
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, stomach ache and chest pain
  • Resentment or blaming others
  • Disrupted sleeping and eating patterns
  • Increased substance use
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Recovery takes time. It is important to allow yourself time to process your circumstances. There are things you can do to support healing and recovery from a natural disaster.

  1. Recognise when it’s getting too much - watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when needed. Allow yourself extra time to get things done.
  2. Talk to someone you trust - release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust.
  3. Develop a financial action plan - summarise your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate financial stress where possible.
  4. Take care of yourself - try to get back to your normal routine when you feel ready. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing. Remember that healthy eating, exercise and having enough sleep will support healing and recovery.
  5. Connect – strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Lean on family and friends, explain your needs and tell them how they can help.
  6. Consider professional help - if you don’t feel some return to normal after four weeks, seek professional help (earlier if needed). Your GP is often a good starting point.
  1. Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Let them know they are not responsible for what has happened.
  2. Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let your children know its ok to share their own feelings.
  3. Include your children in plans for the future.
  4. Try to get back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. This provides a sense of security.
  5. If you are concerned, seek professional help.

Help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. If life is in danger, please call 000.

  • Your GP
  • Psychologist/Counsellor

National Resources

Services

State Resources

For state-specific assistance, see Department of Human Services 

NSW 

VIC 

SA 

QLD  

TAS 

ACT 

NT 

WA 

 

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or via text (12pm - midnight AEST) on 0477 13 11 14

Chris' Story

Here Chris shares his experience of trauma after living through three bushfires, including the harrowing Black Saturday fires of 2009.  He gifts us the strategies he now uses to live post trauma and shares how he helps others recover after similar experiences.