The Cudlee Creek bushfires of December 2019 left a fire-scar of 25,000 hectares with an 88km perimeter through the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. The fire took 85 homes, over 500 buildings, 1.26 million litres of fire retardant, 433 aircraft drops and countless emergency services and volunteers working tirelessly. And it still wasn’t in control. Now, on the six month anniversary, many whose homes, livelihoods, and mental health were affected, actually feel worse. Not better. Life goes on, the news cycle rolls around to the next disaster, and the pain of six months ago is forgotten.
We had always said that if Lobethal Bushland Park goes up, we’re done for. You see, it had never been hit by a bushfire, not in living memory anyway. It was lush and dense, teeming with bird life, native animals and boasting a unique biodiversity. Locals had started to wonder if it was protected by some force of nature or an all encompassing deity (choose any). But once the Cudlee Creek fire took hold, it was never going to be possible to save the park. In the end 95% of the park’s 118 hectares was decimated.
Six month later, after above average rainfall in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, nature is rebounding. The black scars of scorched paddocks are brimming with all shades of green and in most parts it’s only a tell-tale blackened tree trunk that acts as the marker of disaster. Many burnt out buildings and homes have been cleared and fences repaired, so what we see on the surface is regrowth, repair and rejuvenation. But underneath, within the private boundaries of mental health, the walls of wellbeing crumble.
Kindness and patience is paramount right now—and for every disaster, big and small, past, present or future.
COVID-19 has governments requiring people to stay at home and not venture out. But for those without a home, for those without a safe home, for those still not sleeping well or sleeping rough, for those who need other people to help them, for those who must work, and those who are forced to stand up for basic human rights, the Australian Government’s slogan, ‘Stay Safe Stay Home’, is just a bunch of words.
Please look beyond the surface, and know there might be pain, there might be frustration, and there might be intolerance. These are people at the end of their tether. Kindness and patience is paramount right now—and for every disaster, big and small, past, present or future.