Help for those recovering from cumulative disasters

A well being worker based in the Clarence and Dargan area is now available to help those struggling after the fires and floods.

Hang on help is on its way: Megan Watson is a specialist counsellor in the area to help with disaster recovery.

Hang on help is on its way: Megan Watson is a specialist counsellor in the area to help with disaster recovery.

The free Well Being Outreach Program has been established for disaster-affected residents in Lithgow, Mid-Western, Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains in a partnership with Gateway Family Support Services and Wentworth Healthcare.

The program sits alongside Gateway's Step by Step Recovery Support Service to provide a comprehensive range of practical, emotional and psychological support to residents affected by the 2019/20 bushfires and later the floods.

The workers provide holistic, accessible, person-centred support. They are all trained counsellors, who provide a simple and respectful way to help people manage the stress, loss and anxiety that often comes with experiencing disaster events.

There is no need for a referral, no labels and no drawn out waiting period. The counsellors can travel to residents or meet at local community venues. It can be as simple as a chat over a cup of tea, and some support to understand the best ways to care for ourselves as we deal with the ongoing effects of cumulative disasters.

"Our community has been through so much" said Anne Crestani, manager of the Well Being Project.

"We really understand that sometimes people just need to know they're not alone. We provide friendly, non-judgemental, professional support that allows people to navigate their own recovery journey, in their own time at their own pace".

Ms Crestani points out that many residents are surprised that they are still dealing with the emotional impacts of the bushfires a year and half later.

"It's really tiring for anyone dealing with the effects of the events of the past 18 months. Sometimes just chatting with someone who can normalise the fatigue and other experiences that go along with the recovery journey, can be enormously helpful," she said.

The free confidential outreach program is for individual or family counselling support for anyone affected by recent disasters, includes first responders and their loved ones.

If you would like to talk with a Well Being worker in the Blue Mountains contact Megan Watson on 0490 676 269 or email meganw@gatewayfamilyservices.org.au.

  • There is also help available for the Hawkesbury - Nicole Luhrs0490 670 682 or nicolel@gatewayfamilyservices.org.au. And for Lithgow & Mid Western contact Alan Henderson 0490 824 690 alanh@gatewayfamilyservices.org.au. For all information on the Well Being program email annec@gatewayfamilyservices.org.au