Tag: Ash Wednesday

This year’s bushfires prompt calls to heed lessons learnt after Ash Wednesday trauma

Adelaide 5000

For nearly 40 years, Susan Laundy has spent her summers living in terror after surviving two major bushfires that hit her Adelaide Hills property.

Key points:

  • Trauma from Ash Wednesday bushfires only appeared years after the disaster
  • Children can be especially affected by what they go through
  • An expert says tabs need to be kept on victims for a long time after the fire

In 1980, an intense fire saw her running barefoot up a dirt road, trying to escape the flames while herding her horse and six donkeys.

“One donkey doubled back on me — she was so pregnant she could hardly move and I lost her,” Ms Laundy said.

“I just kept running and running on foot with the horse.

“You’re running on adrenaline and it’s only when it all stops that it overwhelms you and you realise what you’ve been through.”

Just three years later, the Ash Wednesday fires came through, bringing the trauma of yet another bushfire.

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While she did not know that she had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after nearly four decades she sought professional help.

“I just suffered through years and years of hell every summer and I’d sit here and shake because I didn’t know what was wrong with me and no-one else knew, so I just suffered alone,” she said.

Now, after always staying to defend her property, this summer she has decided to leave on high-risk days, bringing her cats, guinea pig and rabbit with her.

“Listen to the experts — they scared the living daylights out of me back in November on that first really catastrophic day,” she said.

“I was terrified and I just thought, if they’re telling me it’s not safe, they’re serious.”


The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires in South Australia’s south-east. (ABC)

PTSD takes time to show

The 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires killed 75 people and burned more than 400,000 hectares across Victoria and South Australia.


Professor Sandy McFarlane, from the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Trauma expert Professor Sandy McFarlane studied the longer-term impact of the fires on children, firefighters and the community.

“People in the immediate aftermath are thinking of their survival — they function, they get on with it; the issue is about what you do in the longer term,” he said.

He found that decades later, one-third of the children involved in the fires continued to have enduring fears over what they went through.

He is concerned that the infrequent nature of major bushfires meant lessons were often forgotten, but hopes past experience could inform how communities recover after the fires subside this summer.

“There’s an enormous concern and outpouring of public sympathy in the weeks and months that follow, but that’s not when the most important needs of these communities arise,” he said.

“After the Ash Wednesday bushfires, a case register was set up and most people were actually presenting more than two years after the disaster … that’s the critical issue, that you plan for the longer term.”

He said GPs played a pivotal role in assessing the mental health of people who had been exposed to fire.

“One of the lessons that we learned is that people trust their GPs, they are the people who are already part of that community and they will go and seek their assistance, rather than some health service or counselling service that’s been brought in from the outside,” he said.

Reassure children of their safety

Professor McFarlane’s longitudinal study of bushfire survivors included 800 children across Victoria and South Australia.

His research found that children, like adults, were more likely to show symptoms of bushfire trauma in the years after their exposure.

He also found that in the longer-term, children who had been in the Ash Wednesday fires were less likely to access tertiary education and were more likely to go into relationships early.

“It’s almost as though they came to have a slightly constricted view of what the world could offer them because of the fear and the danger they had faced in their childhoods,” he said.


The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires burning down the hills behind Clare, north of Adelaide.

His advice to parents of young children was to limit their re-exposure to trauma through supervised access to media.

He also said children needed to be reassured of their safety, and if possible needed to remain with their parents.

“It’s important to keep children close to parents,” he said.

“People can sometimes think we should get them out of the environment because they will be seeing the destruction and they might be safer away from us.

“Interestingly, it seems children are safer when they are with their parents because if they’re not with them, they start to worry about their parents’ welfare.”

‘You carry it with you whether you like it or not’

Andrew Auld was 17 when the Ash Wednesday fires swept through his town of Kalangadoo, in the south-east of South Australia.

While attempting to build a fire break on the family property, the wind changed direction and he was caught in his tractor in the fire front.

He said the heat was so intense, it melted the rubber seals on the tractor door.

“The noise of the fire was like a freight train, the tractor was actually rocking with the wind … one minute it was pitch black and you couldn’t see anything, the next minute you couldn’t see beyond the glass with a red inferno,” Mr Auld said.

Remembering Ash Wednesday
A special 7.30 Report story from 1993 looks back at the day Victoria and South Australia burned.

While he could not see where he was going, he managed to drive through the fire by using the graded edge on the side of the road as a guide, only to rejoin his family to battle the blaze threatening their house throughout the night.

Mr Auld said he was one of the lucky ones, with nine people in the town, including four children, dying in the fire.

While 37 years have since passed, the heat of Australian summer brings memories flooding back.

“You don’t forget what happened,” he said.

“The eucalypt smoke is something for whatever reason that sticks in my mind and just the extremes of the weather.

“Every time one of these occurs, and I’m sure all those people who are in the fires now will be the same, it’s one of those things that you get to carry with you whether you like it or not.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Dreamville – Sacrifices Lyrics

Play this song

[Intro: Johnny Venus]
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

[Verse 1: Johnny Venus]
Young nigga back from the dead
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know
Nigga almost lost his head, yeah
Gotta run, gotta fly, gotta float
Channels on top of the dresser
Baby, you down, need to bless up
Gotta watch how you address us
Playing no games, no dress-up
I got an idea
‘Less you wildin’ out in my hood, dawg ain’t right here
Caption me as world nominated before I miss, yeah
Let the AK spray straight before I’m finished, yeah
As a monologue, talking to the fog, fuck a ho and miss, yeah

[Chorus: Johnny Venus]
I make sacrifices, bloody sacrifices
Cutthroat, grab his toe, I suppose
Maybe that’s what life is

[Verse 2: Johnny Venus]
Ayy, man, caveman
Two drink, cave in
Two blunt, ease up
Booyah, leaves up
Who care? Who there?
Do what? Wake up
The hell, happened
We want, hands up
Pay you, dare you
Motherfuck, motherfuck
Sister fucked, granny fucked
System, get some
Yeah, you, day two
Yeah, you, you, you
You a van, through the van
Stripper, good Lord
Top chi, not me
Boy, please, whatever
You next, to death
To go, ooh, oh
Who’s that? Ring ring
Your number, bang bang
Callin’ up, talk it up
Move over

[Chorus: Johnny Venus]
I make sacrifices, bloody sacrifices
Cutthroat, grab his toe, I suppose

[Verse 3: Smino]
Shit lookin’ all red from the North with the power
It ain’t Santa Claus
Brought my gifts to Atlanta, I’m Atlanta Claus
I can smell you pussy with the panties off, I
Been gettin’ to the bread, tryna keep this shit low
But it ain’t workin’, my
Circle on fire like a circus now
Around the same niggas I been around, so
Of course I (Of course I), endorse my (Endorse my)
Reggie lil’ nigga from the North Side (North Side)
It’s astigmatism, you got poor sight (Poor sight)
Let the bitches forget it, I do it Alzheim’
Of course I (Of course I), I divorce my (Divorce my)
Opinion on advance when you walk past
(On bro, that shit groovy, I made it)
Niggas pull strings like a guitar, guitar
G-Star jeans on my sneakers
I’m a real soulful nigga, collard greens inside your speakers (Yeah, yeah)
Ferguson days on Castro, wasn’t no cash flow
But I’m good for the arch, I’m Dr. Scholl’s
I’m good for your whore, let me snatch your shone, shone, shone

[Chorus: Johnny Venus]
Bloody sacrifices

[Verse 4: Saba]
Yeah, ayy
Look at what a motherfucker do for the cash intake
They’ll be right across your head like it’s Ash Wednesday
You got to just get off your ass like your ass is fake
You can’t sit, and if we ain’t siblings, then I can’t relate
To they shit, I’m Asic, I run shit, I got it jumpin’ like pump fake
I don’t need nothing but one take
I’m from the part of the city where young nigga keep him a nine like one plus eight
Our politician a fuckface
Corrupt like a Dogg Pound Gangsta
We duel like a small town wager
How I’m the dropout major
Success stories, I favor
Used to cover my scars, out here tryna cover The Fader
Yeah, Pro Tools, knobs, and the faders
Tell pigs as-salamu alaykum
You ain’t ’bout static like AM radio, ain’t even play him
I put my heart and my all in my art, I’m alternate
All of them are the same, it’s harder to tell ’em apart some days
I thought I’d call ’em out altogether
Rather than waste the amount of bars it’ll take for me to call ’em out by name
Caught a glimpse of the alternate world I’ve introduced to you
Via the studio, got ’em studying our mixtapes
I’m from the hood like my mama, put that on my mama
I lay the law down like parliament, all just with a pen and page

[Chorus: Johnny Venus]
I make sacrifices, bloody sacrifices

[Verse 5: J. Cole]
You can’t be everything to everybody
I wanna be your lover, your best friend
Your Batman, Spider-Man
Fight to polish who and now your rival’s in
I wanna damn near kill you to be the one that heal you up
I wanna be the one that feel you up
On nights when you need good dick to cheer you up
I wanna be the one to build you up
A wall worth five billion bucks to keep out the rah-rah
And the blah-blah-blah so nobody try to steal your thunder
Pull you under
Toss my hopes out, Royal Rumble
We done moved out to the boondocks
Built a big house, there he wonders
How somewhere along the way
He went from Huey to Eddie Wuncler
I been so disconnected, my perspective is ignorant
When you rich, niggas don’t wanna correct you
Say something crazy, they won’t interject
Do every drug that you want, they gon’ let you
Dangerous when it’s nobody to check you
I be havin’ to check myself
Nigga, stop holding that money, you know you got plenty
I be havin’ to spread my wealth
I used to be at the crib myself
7 years old, off of Bragg Boulevard
Where they bag up the raw
They gon’ stand on the corner, one hand on they balls
And they ran when the cops come, there go the laws
Then I packed up a bag and I trapped it up north on the path of a star
And I ran into you like I met you before
Now damn, me and you goin’ half on a boy, sing

[Verse 6: J. Cole]
Huggin’ the block, huggin’ the block all day
I had nowhere to go, she gave me a place to stay
She gave me her heart to hold, I still got that shit to this day
She ridin’ with me on the road, she ridin’ with me in the A
Huggin’ the block, huggin’ the block, okay
She gave me the gift of my son, and plus we got one on the way
She gave me a family to love, for that, I can never repay
I’m crying while writing these words, the tears, they feel good on my face, hey

[Refrain: J. Cole]
And yesterday could feel just like a waste, yeah
If I don’t love you how I’m supposed to
And yesterday could feel just like a waste, yeah
If I don’t love you how I’m supposed to

[Chorus: Johnny Venus]
I make sacrifices, bloody sacrifices

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