Authors: Heidi Keevers, Gary Shallala-hudson
Event: 2023 TheMHS Forum
Subject: Muddy Waters: Stories from the Northern NSW Floods
Type of resource: Video
Abstract: It is the first anniversary of unprecedented flooding in Northern NSW. In 2022, the rain bombs and flood waters struck on 28th February. Within a month we experienced two more major floods. Our lives, community and natural landscape changed overnight. We awoke to torrential rain. Lists of people needing urgent rescue grew as rapidly as the water. Then all communication was lost, roads undrivable, electricity cut, no fuel, no money. Towns north of Lismore flooded first. Then Lismore, Coraki, Woodburn and Broadwater. The levee banks broke with hundreds of people at risk of drowning. Homes, workplaces and vehicles destroyed. Lives, livelihoods and animals were lost. Mass trauma filled our communities. From the lived experience perspective we reflect on our communities’ experience of mental health during a natural disaster and it’s long recovery. Experience is evidence. We will share the floods impact on people’s lives. The complex community challenges we are facing. Grassroots initiatives that have provided innovative solutions and supportive professional and community mental health approaches. We highlight the importance of holistic integrated approaches based in addressing the social determinants, lived experience perspectives and community led initiatives. Everyone in our community has a flood story. We are all peers here.