DART Centre Bushfire Trauma Support Project

The CBF and the DART Centre for Journalism & Trauma (Asia Pacific) have joined forces to deliver an online trauma support and resilience program for community broadcasters and journalists impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires. (Photo: Mallacoota by Mariska Ascher)

What is the issue?

Last summer, Australia experienced an unprecedented fire season. Communities were devastated and wildlife populations suffered as millions of hectares of our country burned.

In this extraordinary situation, for weeks on end, community radio stations, from 2EARFM Moruya in NSW to 3MGB Mallacoota in Victoria, provided critical information to help people in their communities make decisions that would affect their lives.

At the crisis unfolded, nearly 80 community radio stations were broadcasting in fire-affected areas and, in many cases, staffed by a handful of volunteers. During the bushfires, when local information needs were critical and constantly changing, they faced extreme pressure and responsibility.

Now, in the aftermath, it is clear volunteers at these stations experienced significant trauma. The Community Broadcasting Foundation wants to support these community broadcasters in managing the ongoing impact of that trauma and build resilience for the future.

Photo: Moruya Bridge by Alex Rea

What are we doing about it?

The Community Broadcasting Foundation, in partnership with the DART Centre, wants to deliver an online trauma support and resilience program for community broadcasters and journalists impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.

The first of its kind in the Australian community broadcasting sector, this program is specifically tailored for broadcasters and journalists working in community radio to build expertise and resilience in communities dealing with traumatic events.

Starting with stations directly affected by the bushfires, DART Centre experts have developed a specialist online program for community broadcasters and station management. The program will be conducted as a series of online forums and workshops, led by two specialist DART trainers.

The initial participating stations include EAR FM Moruya (NSW), Braidwood FM (NSW), 3REG FM Bairnsdale (VIC) and 3MGB Mallacoota (VIC). The online course will be delivered across two cohorts reaching an expected total of 40 volunteer broadcasters and station management.

Included in the project will be an evaluation with the view to scaling up and building an annual offering for the community broadcasting sector. The ongoing offering would support resilience in high-impact community stations as they may be required to respond in future to events of fire, flood or cyclone.

Photo: (l-r) Kathy Sheilds & Tony Jaggers, EAR FM by Tracee Hutchison

Our project partners

The Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma is the only provider in the world that focuses solely on the nexus between journalism, the media and psychological trauma. With over 25 years of specialist training on this topic, the Dart Centre is the leading global expert in supporting the media industry dealing with trauma and building resilience, drawing on science-based content and informed by journalism practice from one of the world’s most prestigious journalism schools – Columbia University, New York.

Principal trainers

Dr Cait McMahon OAM, PhD, MAPS – Dart Centre Asia Pacific’s principal trainer and Managing Director. Cait has undertaken internationally ground-breaking PhD research on trauma impacts as experienced by Australian journalists. She is the only known psychologist to work full time with media professionals on the topic of trauma exposure in the world. In 2016 she received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her work with journalist’s wellbeing and trauma exposure.

Ms Kimina Lyall – former journalist, provisional psychologist and doctoral candidate and Deputy Director of Dart Centre Asia Pacific. Kimina has spent almost 15
years as a journalist, including a period as Southeast Asia correspondent for The Australian and the publication of her first book, Out of the Blue – Facing the Tsunami. Kimina has reported on, and experienced, disasters firsthand. Kimina is currently studying a doctorate in psychology and is an experienced trainer on media exposure to trauma.

Other specialist trainers will be brought in as required. All Dart Centre trainers have a professional background in journalism and/or psychology and are specialist

Photo: (l-r) Dr Cait McMahon and Kimina Lyall

Why support the DART Centre Bushfire Trauma Support Project?

In a time of crisis, community broadcasters were there to provide critical information to their communities as fire threatened their homes and their loved ones.

In many cases, these volunteer broadcasters were personally impacted, through loss of homes, livelihoods and the associated psychological trauma of living in a fire-affected community.

We want to acknowledge the part these stations played and provide trauma support training in order to build resilience in these communities.

View our DART Centre Bushfire Trauma Support Project Case for Support (PDF 839KB)

Photo: Buckenbowra State Forest by Tracee Hutchison

Get in touch

This project is fully funded, but if you’re interested in becoming a funding partner on any of our other sector-wide projects please get in touch. We welcome the opportunity to tell you more about how we’re supporting the largest community-owned, independent media sector in Australia.

We gratefully acknowledge our funding partners: The Victorian Government Bushfire Mental Health Fund, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Australian Communities Foundation (Beeton Family Fund).

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