MidCoast marks Black Summer anniversary as it continues to recover from bushfires, floods and COVID-19

 

THE MidCoast Local Government Area is continuing its recovery from the devastating 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfire season.

Two years on, the community is rebuilding, having also navigated flooding and a global pandemic.

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This November marked the two year anniversary of the worst day of the Black Summer bushfire season that left the MidCoast community reeling from loss of life and property.

Val Schaefer, Community Development Project Officer for Mission Australia said, “The community is resilient and determined to rebuild.

“Mission Australia has been working with the support of the MidCoast 4 Kids initiative, to support the recovery.

“This year we have rolled out the Community Wellbeing and Participation Program for bushfire affected communities on behalf of the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network.

“As part of the program The Youth Mental Health First Aid program offered a series of four courses for educators and people who work directly with young people in professional, volunteer or social settings.

“It facilitates vital training to help recognise and respond to the signs of poor mental health.

“Two courses have been held already in Taree and Foster with 35 people from schools, youth groups, disability support and sporting associations completing the course.

“One more course will be held in Taree and another in Gloucester next year.”

Jane Ferguson is a Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) teacher at Wingham High School in the Midcoast LGA.

Jane completed one of Youth Mental First Aid courses in July this year.

“I have personally seen increases in levels of anxiety and depression, as well as difficulty with transition back to school and extracurricular activities.

“Given the relentless nature of crisis after crisis, this is not surprising.

“This course reminded me of the degree and extent of trauma that some people have experienced.

“When you live a privileged life like I, and many others do, it can at times be easy to put it from your mind, that others are not so fortunate and that the trauma they have experienced can have a significant impact on many facets of their lives; particularly their mental health,” she said.

Val Schaefer, Community Development Project Officer for Mission Australia said, “The Resilience Project is a mental wellbeing program for our MidCoast schools based on research that shows the more positive emotion experienced by an individual, the more resilient that person will be.

“The program’s focus is on three key pillars that have been proven to cultivate positive emotion; Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness as well as a strong focus on Connection, Purpose, Kindness, Emotional Literacy and Physical Health.

“The program will benefit children impacted by bushfires, COVID-19, and recent flooding.

“It will also promote positive wellbeing more generally and will be rolled out with the support of MidCoast 4 Kids.

“Eight schools and eight early learning centres from across the MidCoast are participating in this program and have so far taken part in their first information session with the Resilience Project education team members,” she said.

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