New Zealand

Recovery session for earthquake survivors

News and Press Release
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Red Cross is helping former residents of Christchurch who are still recovering from the devastating earthquakes.

With thousands of former residents of Christchurch now living in Australia, Red Cross is helping lead an information session on 25 October for people who are still recovering physically, emotionally and socially from the devastating earthquakes.

Kate Brady, National Recovery Coordinator, said for many people affected by the earthquakes the recovery journey will be a long and difficult one that impacts them regardless of whether they remain in New Zealand or have moved elsewhere.

"We know from our ongoing work with communities affected by the Black Saturday bushfires that a catastrophic event like a major earthquake has a long-lasting impact on the people who lived through it," said Ms Brady.

"While the initial shock and confusion of the disaster will now have subsided, for some people feelings of stress, grief, anger and frustration will continue for several years."

Since the devastating earthquakes hit New Zealand in February last year, more than 11,000 residents from the Canterbury region, which includes Christchurch, have moved to Australia.

"Anecdotally we have been hearing that there is a need among expatriate Kiwis living in Australia for a recovery service like this, especially given the ongoing uncertainty as Christchurch continues to be rebuilt and zoning decisions are made about the future of some areas," said Ms Brady.

"Usually post-disaster recovery programs are geographically tied to where the event occurred, but this can leave people who have chosen to move away, such as former residents of Canterbury living in Australia, without access to the specialised support they may need."

The free recovery information session is intended for earthquake survivors and their friends and family. The session is being organised by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and will take place at the Chapter House at 97 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, on Thursday 25 October from 6:30pm.

The recovery session will include presentations by expert psychologists, including Red Cross Consultant Psychologist Dr. Rob Gordon, who will explain how disasters affect people and communities and discuss ways for survivors to look after themselves and their loved ones. Recovery workers from Australian Red Cross will also be present.

"This recovery session is a unique approach that acknowledges the reality that people often migrate, either temporarily or permanently, away from a disaster zone. While they may leave the affected area, they take the challenges of recovery with them," said Ms Brady.