JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Take stock and look for the positive


Megan Doherty

Bushfire trauma counsellor Dr Rob Gordon.

Bushfire trauma counsellor Dr Rob Gordon.

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.

Related Coverage

Residents move on but memories linger

The residents of Lincoln Close may have rebuilt and moved since the 2003 bushfires, but they are always on alert in summer.

Beware the ill wind … brigades steeled for common foe

Speaking over the low rumble of the fire tanker, Sheldon Williams gave an ominous forecast for the scorching days ahead.

'Without them, this house wouldn't be standing': families pay tribute to RFS

A crowded paper plate of homemade meringues was among the small gestures of thanks given to firefighters this week.

Marking the firestorm

Activities commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the 2003 Canberra fires.

We remember

It was our worst day. Our blackest day. The day fire, smoke and ash blocked the sun and hurled Canberra into a nightmare that some still struggle with a decade later. But it was more than that.

The heart and soul of Canberra

Our community is transient compared with most Australian cities. Tens of thousands of Canberra residents see the ACT as a temporary home only; a place they have come to study or to advance their careers. Some of these ''new'' Canberrans fall in love with the city and stay for the rest of their lives. Yet many others return interstate to what was always their true home.

Canberra stronger decade after fires, says Deek

Canberra legend Robert De Castella, who lost his Chapman home in the 2003 firestorm, believes the national capital is a stronger city 10 years after the disaster.

Related Coverage

HuffPost Australia

Follow Us

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo