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As the fires rage, we glimpse the evolving abnormal

By Lyn Bender - posted Tuesday, 11 February 2020

This has been the summer when we have been forced to see what we have collectively sought to avoid.

We are losing our dreams. Before our eyes they are going up in smoke.

According to an Australia Institute survey, half of all Australian residents have been directly impacted by the fires that have been raging since June 2019.


The most obvious impacts have included:

  • people have died or faced death defending their homes
  • trauma of fighting the fires
  • loss of familiar landscapes
  • deaths at a conservative estimate of a billion native animals
  • the angst of the Indigenous custodians of the land
  • evacuation from towns and holiday locations
  • over 2,700 homes lost
  • over 12 million hectares of land burnt
  • ongoing threats of nearby fires
  • lack of food supplies and temporary and inadequate accommodation for survivors
  • enduring prolonged poor or hazardous air quality
  • curtailment of health promotional activities, such as outdoor exercise
  • anxiety about whether homes and businesses have been burnt
  • cost to economy expected to exceed $4.5 billion.
  • loss of business premises and employment
  • loss of income
  • loss of farms, crops and animals
  • fear of further fires erupting
  • loss of sense of safety
  • loss of trust in government

The fires are a major national trauma that has been seen and felt globally.

The smoke from our fires has been detected byNASA to be circling the globe.

Australia is being cited internationally, as the canary in the coal mine. (pun intended)

Our insane stance on coal has made us the climate change laggard of the 'developed world'


I am writing after the weekend of the celebration of 'Australia / Invasion Day'

This is a tragic irony that cannot be ignored. The devastation and massacre of the original inhabitants, due to colonial invasion is now recurring albeit in a different guise.

As I was about to write that the current crisis is the greatest trauma our nation has ever experienced, on this land, I was struck by the parallel with what our first people have experienced.

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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