Bushfire Recovery

Natural disasters like bushfires, floods, cyclones, drought, and other traumatic ‘natural’ events are extremely challenging for the people directly affected. The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to ‘burnout’ and physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Some people will be able to manage the stress but for others, it may be difficult to cope. Most people eventually heal and recover and go on to rebuild their lives.

The stress caused by bushfires, drought and extreme climate events can affect our wellbeing in several ways. Below are some ways that bushfires may impact you or others:

Some common signs of stress may include but are not limited to:

  • Physical symptoms (eg headaches, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite)
  • Always feeling tired, lacking energy or motivation
  • Changes in mood (eg anger, aggression, irritability, worriedness, anxiety and depression)
  • Increased use of alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs to cope or escape the situation
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or like “life is not worth living”
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

    Most people experience some of these emotions at some point in their lives. However, if you are experiencing several at the same time or if they interfere with your ability to carry out daily activities, you should talk to someone you trust (e.g. partner, friend, relative) and seek help from your GP or another health professional.

Recovery takes time. It is important to allow yourself time to process your circumstances and regain a sense of normalcy. There are things you can do to heal and rebuild.


  1. Recognise when it’s getting too much – watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when needed. Allow yourself extra time to get things done.
  2. Talk – release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust. This can help put things into perspective. It’s likely others in your community are experiencing similar feelings so this gives everyone an opportunity to release negative feelings and discuss practical ways to deal with the situation.
  3. Develop an action plan – decide who’s going to do what and when. Summarise your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate stress of any financial concerns. Having a plan will help you feel you are making progress.
  4. Take care of yourself – Eat healthily, get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and exercise regularly. Try to get back to your normal routine when you feel ready. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing.
  5. Connect – strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Lean on family and friends, explain your needs and tell them how they can help.
  6. Consider professional help – Talk to your GP about your situation and let them know if you’ve experienced any negative changes in how you feel. Your doctor can provide useful advice on how to manage stress and also give you referrals to other services

Bushfire Recovery Toolkit

  1. Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Let them know they are not responsible for what has happened.
  2. Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let your children know its ok to share their own feelings.
  3. Include your children in plans for the future.
  4. Try to get back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. This provides a sense of security.
  5. If you don’t see an improvement in 4 weeks, or you’re concerned seek professional help (earlier if needed).

Helping your children cope with the aftereffects of a natural disaster – Toolkit

Helping Children Cope After Natural Disaster Factsheet

Help is available. Below are some places to go for information and support. 

  • Your GP
  • Psychologist/Counsellor


National Resources


  • Lifeline’s Bushfire Recovery Support Line on 13 43 57 (24/7) 

For 24-hour telephone crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14

If life is in danger, call 000

Lifeline South Coast would like to acknowledge the lives that have been lost to suicide. We are committed to supporting those with a lived experience of suicide and aim to reduce the stigma around seeking help for poor mental health and suicidal crisis.