Stories affording pathways to healing

This study will investigate and articulate the collective stories of people affected by these recent bushfires to identify the practices that are most effective for enhancing healing and recovery for local people, their communities and Country. The study will also identify practices that hinder or restrain healing and recovery post-disaster.

The 2019-2020 bushfires in New South Wales were unprecedented in their extent and intensity. The fires in NSW burnt 5.4 million hectares and killed an estimated 800 million animals. The south coast of NSW already struggling with extreme dryness, experienced unrelenting wildfires in which much of our national parks were burnt, plants, birds, animals, insects, and people were killed, and homes and infrastructure destroyed in rural and regional communities between Eden and the Southern Highlands.

This project contributes to healing and building more resilient communities by articulating practices that assist communities to regain and enhance their sense of belonging, their sense of control overtheir lives, their sense of hope for the future and their capacities to care for and to be cared for by Country. The overarching research question asks what the collective narratives of people affected by disaster tell us about the practices they experienced as supporting and/or hindering healing and recovery for communities and Country.

This study adopts an Aboriginal-informed holistic notion of local communities that encompasses, the land, other-than-human entities, humans, and the entangled relations amongst them. Such a Country-centred conception of local communities is well suited to an interdisciplinary approach, in which the knowledge and skills of these varied disciplines are threaded through one another using generous dialogues to deepen our collective understandings.



Lynne Keevers (ASSH), Anthony McKnight (ASSH), Deborah Gough (ASSH), Karen Fildes (SMAH), Karen File (ASSH), Susan Duchesne (ASSH), Saskia Ebejer (ASSH), Joanne Spangaro (ASSH), Adam Gowen (ASSH).


This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing     Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.    Goal 13: Climate action     Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals