REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Natural disaster aftermath often forgotten in news cycles

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During the recent long weekend that some of us had, I spent some time in the Adelaide Hills picking wine grapes in a late, mini-vintage.

As well as a handy reminder of how much I appreciate my somewhat office-bound job, with little manual labour involved, it also really brought home the longer-term effects of the fires in the 2019-20 summer.

Before the global pandemic, the economic recession, rising unemployment rate, border restrictions, lockdowns, more fires and the floods - it's been an eventful year - there was the Cudlee Creek fire in Adelaide's Hills.

It captured headlines during the initial blaze and the immediate aftermath - as did similar events across much of the country - but while the media circus has moved on, landholders and farmers are still dealing with the clean-up and recovery.

For many wine growers, the impacts of the fire are extending on with estimations there will be no grape harvest until at least 2022, while others are starting from scratch.

I was helping pick for one such grower, on a small block belonging to a friend of theirs - just one example of the many ways this community has come together to support each other.

It's not just wineries but any number of people impacted by the fires in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island. While BlazeAid has done amazing work and since packed up to head home or move onto the next fire, there is still clean up and recovery being carried out, and will be for some time.

The fires of the 2019-20 summer are not the only event that seems to have slipped out of the collective consciousness. While the "Seventeen Twenty Drought" was big news at the time, once a little - or a lot - of rain has fallen in some areas, it's easier to focus on the positive and not on those areas still waiting for rain. Or the fact that an economic drought can last way beyond the time when feed finally returns.

I don't think there is an easy solution for this. Reality is often difficult to fit into a conventional news cycle.

But the fact that we have Drought Hubs across Australia, sharing some of the hard-won knowledge, is a good thing.

It's also so critical that mental health and wellbeing are a central part of that focus.

I guess it's important for those in the grip of disaster to know that they're not forgotten.

And as long as they are feeling the pressure from drought or fire or flood, we need the pressure to be on government to make sure the support remains.

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