Leura Harris and Shelly McArdle at the recent Evoke Yoga Marine Turtle Information Session.
Leura Harris and Shelly McArdle at the recent Evoke Yoga Marine Turtle Information Session.

Caring for people and place

WHILE bush fires have left a trail of destruction, the Capricorn Coast community have banded together to help those in need.

Countless businesses became drop points for donations, businesses and individuals have made huge donations of everything from clothes, food, services, accommodation and their time.

Emergency services have worked relentlessly, and the entire community have rallied together to help where they can.

It’s this togetherness, that makes communities such as the Capricorn Coast strong and resilient and when the dust settles and the fires finally subside, it will be time to rebuild both property and our selves.

Capricorn Catchments project Co-ordinator Shelly McArdle said once the initial shock of disaster passes it is important to care for ourselves and allow time and space to heal.

“There is no doubt that our community has had its challenges over the last five years. I moved to the area in 2008 and since then I have witnessed many natural disasters,” Ms McArdle said.

“That same year I witnessed my first ever bush fire, it was out of control, and it was a little confronting I have to say.

“In 2010-11 it was the flood where I got my first lesson on just how big the Fitzroy Catchments is, with a flood that peaked due to rain that happened days before in the upper catchment. A flood that hung around and slowly receded leaving behind muddy devastation.

“Follow that up with devastation caused by Cyclone Oswald in 2013, Marcia in 2015 then Debbie in 2017 then in 2018, it was bushfires that again challenged our communities

“With every natural disaster mother nature threw at us, the community pulled together and got things done and people went on with their lives. That is what we do well, we rally together, and we support each other to recover and to slowly build resilience.”

Ms McArdle said in her role as a project officer at Capricornia Catchments she has had a front-row seat to the effects of these events, especially on our local primary producers along with the general community and she has seen the loss and the despair.

“Not only the losses of crops and livestock, but the loss of general wellbeing,” she said.

“People have suffered trauma and the effects of that trauma can be added to after each event slowly wearing away at our mental health.

“This leads to stress which when experienced for extended period, can lead to many debilitating medical problems ranging from headaches to heart disease.

“This is what led Capricornia Catchments to take a more holistic approach to disaster recovery with a series of 8 two-day workshops that have been funded through the CQ Bushfires Category C Flexible Grants Program funded jointly funded by the State and Federal Government (set to be rolled out across our local area over the next 7 months.)

“The first day of the workshop focuses on practical ways to prepare and recover from the effects of a bushfire. How to put in a firebreak, OHS, first aid and other useful information.

“The second day will focus on getting people out of their heads and into their bodies. To let go of harmful ruminating on negative thoughts through the practice of trauma sensitive Yoga Therapy, simple mindfulness and breathing techniques for anxiety relief and healing. This is then followed by an art session, either printmaking, weaving or sculpture.

“This gives people an opportunity to connect, to share their stories, to strengthen their mental and emotional resilience and to heal.”

Ms McArdle who is also a Yoga Australia Registered Yoga Therapist believes that for a long time, especially in men and boys, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, asking for help or speaking about the emotional impacts of disasters such as these is seen as being weak or cowardly. “This is not the case, in fact it can and does require a great deal of courage to speak up when we need a hand,” she said.

“Perhaps it is time to be more authentic and to reach out and connect when we need support, indeed by doing this we then make space for others to do the same.”

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