Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Community stories: 23 January 2023
The community of Copmanhurst in the Clarence Valley in New South Wales is a strong and resilient group of around 300 people. In 2019/2020, Copmanhurst was severely impacted by the Black Summer bushfires, as well as flooding. For so many in the area this created a stressful environment. Many families were forced to evacuate and sadly leave livestock and other animals behind. Between the financial and emotional stress and hardship caused by these disasters, the community also saw a rise in mental health incidents.
For the youngest residents, stressful family situations, orange smoky skies and the loud noises from helicopters landing behind the preschool was causing a lot of anxiety.
Copmanhurst Pre-School wanted to create a space that would support the recovery of young children and provide a place nurtures respectful sharing of thoughts, ideas and knowledge. Their plan was to construct a Healing Circle that included a native garden. To help achieve this goal, the Pre-School secured a $8,650 grant through The Yulgilbar Foundation Fund.
They were able to establish the Healing Circle and also repair and upgrade a memorial of a past student. The memorial stone was moved to the Healing Circle and the family was very pleased to be included and remembered.
The garden was created under the guidance from local Elders and Ngroo, a local Aboriginal education program, to incorporate native plants and ideas for the healing circle including logs sourced from Bundjalung Country.
Since completing the project, the average day now begins around the healing circle for a talk before everyone goes off to play. This gives the children and educators an emotionally meaningful way to start the day in an area they all feel, safe, secure and supported.
Because of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, there was a delay on the opening celebrations for the new space. The Pre-School wanted to invite all the community services to the opening so they could acknowledge and thank them for all the hard work they did to keep their community safe during the fires and floods.