Driving home on the Friday of the recent Cudlee Creek bushfires was ominous as I looked over the horizon through a thick haze of black smoke and the red glow rising from the earth.
Our collective hearts continued to break for weeks as Australia fought through the worst bushfire season on record.
As I watched my daughter writing to family, and recounting her experience of the smoke, I reflected on how frightening this must be for the young people in our community.
Not only do they suffer the consequences of fire but are less capable to influence the world they live in and make decisions that impact our society which can often aid our sense of empowerment in challenging times.
It's important to recognise and remember that all members of our communities are affected by natural disasters and the inherent stress and concern they elicit. And, as human beings we're affected by traumatic circumstances differently.
Some practical tips on how to help young people in your life to feel okay include - talk openly about our feelings and reactions about the bushfires; reaching out to our family and friends; participating in activities that make us feel good and keep us connected; making a donation to people affected directly by the fires or our local CFS; making a meal for a friend or loved one who has been directly impacted by the fires; taking a break from the news and turning it off for a while as needed.
Bushfires and other natural disasters are always confronting and require our communities to draw on their strength, resilience and unity.
Fortunately, these qualities are strengths I see in our young people here at headspace every day who are always willing to support their peers with open hearts and non-judgement.
If you would like additional information on responding to bushfire and natural disaster visit: https://headspace.org.au/young-people/how-to-cope-with-the-stress-of-natural-disasters/