Resources for recovery when reporting on the Australian bushfires

Resources for recovery when reporting on the Australian bushfires


Work will always have its pressures. Sometimes the mobile phone and Internet connections we rely on to give us location information and immediate access to safety personnel do not always work. It can be frustrating to have to ask for help and to trust strangers. However, it’s important to be able to find resources and people who will act positively on our behalf.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) sent an email on 28 January 2020 to its financial members providing details for journalists and photographers covering the latest Australian bushfires.

Of particular note, MEAA has assembled resources on “… covering disaster and recovery, interviewing victims and survivors, and working with colleagues exposed to traumatic events.” While the list of resources is not extensive, it does give some referrals for centres and organizations which are equipped with skilled personnel experienced in trauma care. As the MEAA email says: “The human, environmental and economic toll of Australia’s wildfires continues to mount – the bush fires have destroyed thousands of homes, killed at least 20 people, and resulted in the deaths of millions of animals.

• The Dart Center’s quick tips, in-depth resources and links to other organizations on “Covering Disasters.”

• “Tragedies & Journalists”: the Dart Center’s comprehensive guide for reporters, editors, photographers and managers on every aspect of reporting tragedy.

• An interview with Irving Redlener, M.D. on the role that news media play in aiding recovery and drawing lessons to better manage future catastrophes.

• Guidance on mental health issues and how they evolve in regions devastated by natural disasters, from psychiatrist Alexander McFarlane.

• Tips for working with traumatic imagery.

• Guidance on working with emergency services from Dr. Anne Eyre, specialist in trauma and disaster management.

• Guidance on reporting natural disasters from Manoucheka Celeste, journalist and media scholar.

• “Best Practices in Trauma Reporting,” drawn from a decade of Dart Award-winning stories.

• Tip Sheets on how to effectively cover a disaster from 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Hight.

• Scientific consensus, made readable, on the effects of traumatic coverage on journalists and on media consumers.

• Dart Centre Asia Pacific’s self care tips for news personnel exposed to traumatic events, staff care tips for their managers and editors and reporting tips for dealing with victims of tragedy.

• Reflection and advice from six international reporters who were on the ground during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami — Yulia Supadmo, Indonesia; Mehul Srivastava, USA; Shahanaaz Habib, Malaysia; Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh; Pia Sarkar, USA; Mona Khanna, USA — as well as Australian photojournalist Patrick Hamilton and correspondent Kimina Lyall.

• Transcript and individual reports from a Frontline Club discussion of tsunami coverage, with former Dart Centre Europe Director Mark Brayne, BBC developing world correspondent David Loyn and clinical psychologist Bill Yule.

• Natural Disaster resources assembled by Google, including Google’s Google’s person-finder.person-finder. Google’s person-finder.

• The International Center for Journalists’s two-part guide on Disaster and Crisis Coverage and Journalism and Trauma.

• Recovery from Unnatural Death: A guide by psychiatrist Ted Rynearson for friends and family of someone who has died violently or suddenly.

• Dart Center Executive Director Bruce Shapiro spoke in Melbourne, Australia about reckoning with the aftermath of disaster.

• The Covering Recovery Project, a joint initiative of the Dart Center and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, hosted a colloquium focused on innovations in coverage and lessons learned from recent disasters. Event video is available here.

• Strategies for investigating in the aftermath of disasters featuring journalists Bruce Shapiro, Jason Berry, Rick Young, Justin Elliott and Laura Sullivan.

• How to deal with people caught up in tragic events.

• Tips for managers and editors to help them prepare and support reporters in the field.

• The Australian Red Cross shared tips for taking care of yourself and advice on how to help others.”

Lifeline is always available by telephone for anyone needing to talk about their thoughts and feelings when they get to their overnight accommodation after a long work day. It is a free Australia-based telephone resource for anyone with worries who ‘just needs to talk’. There is always someone who will listen to you in conversation.

As MEAA writes in its email: “The Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has also assembled the following resources from colleague organizations throughout the (Asia Pacific) region:

• Phoenix Australia has collected resources, including the publication Looking After Yourself for adults, children and support persons.

• Beyond Blue shared a list of resources for people living in bushfire-affected areas.

• The Black Dog Institute has worked with NSW Fire and Rescue to develop resources for first responders, including mindfulness-based approaches to support resilience and recovery.

• The NSW Health Department of Health have a Bushfire Mental Health Support page, and a Disaster Welfare Assistance Line: 1800 018 444

• Vic Health has collected fact sheets for bushfire-exposed communities.

• Bushfire response resources have been collated by the Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network, based within the ANU College of Health & Medicine.

• Advice and links to resources are also available from Headspace.

• The team at the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience have collected resources in their Knowledge Hub.”

Copyright of text: Fiona Rothchilds 2020 and MEAA 2020.
Text uploaded 29 January 2020.

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