ACT News


Take stock and look for the positive

The 10th anniversary of the Canberra firestorm was a good chance for people to take stock, reflect and even recognise the possibility of ''post-traumatic growth'', according to psychologist Dr Rob Gordon.

The disaster could have some positive ramifications by giving people some perspective on what they valued most and acknowledgement that they had come through the worst and survived.

''It gives people a sense of being bigger, better, wiser than they were before,'' he said.

Dr Gordon worked with victims of the 2003 bushfires though the ACT Recovery Centre. He has since also worked with people affected by the Victorian bushfires and floods, Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi in Queensland. On Thursday he was in Tasmania briefing authorities about the community recovery there after this month's fires.

Dr Gordon said some people would also have a feeling that they weren't at the point of recovery where they ''should'' be.

''So anniversaries are times of reminiscing, reflecting. It's like a cultural marker. Ten years is like an interval. So we should expect, then, a lot of people to have their emotions brought to the surface: sadness, anger, frustration regret,'' he said.

''The challenge for people who don't feel they are where they should be is, 'How do I actually value what I've got?'.''

Dr Gordon has always advised the wider community to be patient with people affected by the bushfires and never declare that anyone ''should be over it''.

''It's a time to respect that this is a huge event in people's lives,'' he said.