Professor shares social and psychological impacts of deadly bushfires

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

17 March 2009: Australian Catholic University (ACU) acting Canberra Campus dean, Professor Peter Camilleri, will present the results of a study into Canberra's post-bushfires recovery at the World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine in Vancouver in May this year.

The conference will examine the social and psychological impacts of the deadly bushfires that took place in Canberra in 2003 and Greece in 2007.

Professor Camilleri, along with a team of colleagues, carried out extensive post-bushfire research following the 2003 fires and found that one in five victims were still distressed more than three years after the disaster.

''It has implications when setting up a recovery model, for how long people will need assistance,'' Professor Camilleri said. “The one-stop Recovery Centres which were utilised in Canberra and now in Victoria are extraordinarily important in offering people help from building advice to psychiatric support”, he added.

Professor Camilleri will present the key findings of this research, which include the critical need for residents to be kept in the loop of the progress of the rebuilding of their communities, to the world symposium later this year.

The international conference will host health professionals from around the world and will help prepare them for future large-scale disasters.