ACT News

Building resilience is a group effort for Mr Fluffy victims

Handling community trauma was always at the heart of Chris Healy's professional career. 

The former ACT Bushfire Recovery Centre director was devastated to find out her home was contaminated by Mr Fluffy asbestos last year and drew on years of experience to cope and support fellow victims.

Former Director of the ACT Bushfire Recovery Centre and member of the ACT Mr Fluffy Community and Expert Reference Group ...
Former Director of the ACT Bushfire Recovery Centre and member of the ACT Mr Fluffy Community and Expert Reference Group Chris Healy at her new home in Hackett. Photo: Matt Bedford

"Trauma is isolating," she said. 

"People get tremendous strength from being together and sharing information, practical information but also information on how to handle the stress." 

On a fortnightly basis, Ms Healy walks with 15 to 20 others who are caught up in the Mr Fluffy crisis.

"We set off from Yarralumla Cafe, walk around the lake and chat," she said. 

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"We are all in different stages of moving through this adversity but we sit and have coffee afterward and share where we are up to and give advice to one another."

Ms Healy lived in her Mr Fluffy contaminated home for 23 years and has just recently bought a new house, due to the toxic contamination.

"We had expected to spend our remaining years in our homes," she said. 

"Shockingly we now have to sell and buy a new home and leave behind the memories of many years of family life." 

In the wake of disaster, Ms Healy said it was common for people to feel unsure about how to help. 

While she said ensuring the needs of those affected was understood, the enthusiasm of the broader community to lend a hand could be harnessed effectively. 

Ms Healy congratulated Woden Community Service for taking a step in the right direction and hosting a morning tea this month to listen to what affected homeowners needed.

"People are facing the destruction of their beloved homes and gardens which is heart-wrenching," she said. 

Salvaging bulbs and cuttings, or donating spare pot plants were some of the simple community-level measures floated at the meeting to ease the burden of relocation for residents.

Ms Healy said more open communication with affected households was essential across the ACT to counter the shock and bewilderment which had been created.

"The first step is for people to stand up and say what they need," she said. "Then it can be worked through by community organisations and the ACT Asbestos Taskforce how to safely help them."