Current Australian bushfires highlights importance of community bereavement services

Monday 6 January 2020

As bushfires continue to spread across Australia and the full extent of the damage is measured, Australia’s leading grief and bereavement support service is urging those impacted to access support services.

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement is encouraging people to access its counselling and support services, and online educational and support resources. The loss of life and property in such circumstances can be traumatic for individuals and communities.

ACGB’s Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Hall said deaths as a result of the current bushfires will impact on the lives of the family and friends of victims, given its sudden and devastating nature and intense media attention of the event.

“Those grieving the death of a family member or friend in these circumstances have to deal with much more than their own grief. They may need to navigate the worlds of media, the legal system and the coronial process,” Mr Hall said,

“We know from experience that this process can be particularly challenging for bereaved people, and we urge bereaved people to make use of our resources.”

Mr Hall also stressed that the recent bushfires may prove traumatic for entire communities.

“Natural disasters can be incredibly traumatic for the loved ones of victims, but their impact on property, infrastructure, lifestyle and routines can also greatly destabilise communities,” he said. “This loss and destabilisation can contribute to immense grief in individuals and communities, and can make the grieving process even more challenging.”

“It is difficult for those not directly affected to understand the trauma, the loss and grief that people have experienced, and continue to experience. We know that many people who have experienced similar events, such as the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria has re‐triggered the trauma and grief they experienced. The parallels between these events and those of the bushfires have been a painful reminder and a reawakening of many emotions.”

We would encourage those who have been bereaved as a result of the current fires and those who have been impacted by similar previous events to take special care of yourselves and your families at this time and if you feel it might be helpful to make use of the support of others, including the many services available.

The ACGB offers a fee for service national online telehealth bereavement counselling service ( Counselling is provided in real time with qualified bereavement practitioners.

“All Australians, regardless of location or circumstance, can access the Centre's services and can maintain control over the setting and from their own bereavement support,” said Mr Hall. To access the services and resources offered by the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, visit or call 1800 642 066