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When disaster strikes

Disasters usually happen when we least expect them.

While we know that summer can bring tragic bushfires and winter rains can cause storms, on the whole, a crisis usually appears out of nowhere.

It may be a sudden accident, a suicide, terrorism – whatever the catastrophe, the emotional impact is immediate and profound.

This week, Beyond Bank Australia has been honoured and privileged to lend our support to a unique and important community service called “When Disaster Strikes”.

The program offers pastoral care to communities in crisis, providing support and guidance to children and families struggling to cope.

Tracey Butter is one of the program’s participating chaplains and her experience and kindness were a huge help to the victims of the 2016 Pinery bushfires in South Australia.

“I remember the CFS siren kept going off because burnt trees kept reigniting, fire trucks were kept on the move. I provided comfort and support to children and parents, and reassurance that there was not another fire.

Being together we were all able to support and care for each other.

The program enables them to develop coping, problem solving and other skills as they process and manage the changes they experienced as a result of the disaster.

During group times with children many spoke of continuing bad dreams, being fearful, sadness for their loss, and their sense of feeling unsafe. Hand drawn pictures of what they saw before and after the fire were harrowing.

Because of the connections I have across the community, I have been able to distribute a variety of donated items to assist families.

More than a year on I continue to work with and encourage parents and children as they recover from the fires. “

Jessica Jenke and her three young children had to evacuate the family home at the height of South Australia’s devastating Pinery bushfires in January 2016.

Tracey’s care helped them through.

“Tracey has been a huge asset to our community through her role as a Chaplain. She has been able to provide and organize counsellors and guest speakers to visit homes, schools and public venues – to help families to connect with services to support them as they deal with the aftermath of the fires.

Tracey has been a huge support to my family in helping us all cope with what happened.

The calming effect she has on my children has helped make them feel safe and calm and provided them with a caring person to talk to.

Tracey has helped me understand what my children are feeling and has been able to assist and guide me on how to support them.

We appreciate Tracey’s continued guidance, pastoral care and listening ear as we still work through the emotions and scars of the Pinery Fire.”

You can find more information on the When Disaster Strikes community service here.



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