Expert assistance on Black Saturday trauma

As the 10-year anniversary of Victoria's catastrophic Black Saturday fires looms, experts are urging people to just listen to those who want to talk.

Kinglake mourners Black Saturday bushfires

Talking helps, say experts of those affected by the coming anniversary of the Black Saturday fires. (AAP)

Just listen. That's the advice from trauma experts on how to help those affected by the looming anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires.

The February 2009 fires killed 173 people, injured another 400 and destroyed more than 2000 homes.

Through the Victorian government's Better Health Channel podcast, trauma expert Rob Gordon and community recovery expert Anne Leadbeater offer advice for those distressed.

"Talking about Black Saturday can be very difficult for some but talking can be the best healer," Ms Leadbeater said.

"Sometimes, just giving people an opportunity to feel heard is enough to make a big difference."

Dr Gordon advised people to make a plan about how they wanted to reflect and commemorate the tragedy.

"It will give you a greater sense of control, it will give you a sense of history, of survival," he said.

"Some people might like to come down to the official process, other people might like to go to the local event, other people might like to just have a barbecue in the backyard with close friends - that's fine, everything's right."

Ms Leadbeater led the recovery effort for the Kinglake Ranges in 2009 and now supports national policy development and training for emergency management staff and volunteers.

Dr Gordon is a consultant to the Victorian government and the Red Cross and has worked with communities after Ash Wednesday, the Port Arthur shooting, the Bali Bombings, Black Saturday and the Christchurch earthquake.

The podcast can be found at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/podcasts/trauma-reactions-and-recovery

An official 10-year commemorative service will be held at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building on Monday February 4 ahead of the actual anniversary on Thursday February 7.


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Published 30 January 2019 at 12:10pm
Source: AAP