EMDR Therapy Training for East Gippsland Mental Health First Responders was conducted in Bairnsdale Victoria on 26-27 November 2021.
Districts 9800 and 9720 provided funding for Bushfire Recovery to the Trauma Recovery Network Australia to build capacity in communities affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires to treat the trauma experienced in those areas. Research shows that the ongoing effects of exposure to natural disasters can last for years for some people who may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Recommended by WHO, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy has been shown to be cost-effective and clients lose the diagnosis of PTSD after treatment. While the training is available to post-graduates in mental health, it is often costly and requires travel to metropolitan areas to access.
By bringing the training to the community, Rotary is helping to teach local mental health first responders the skills of treating the trauma for people affected by the bushfires. The skills obtained will be used well into the future with family violence, accidents, bullying, physical assaults, grief and other overwhelming experiences.
The Rotary Action Group for Family Safety established the Trauma Recovery Network in March 2020 with the intention of providing training to the rural areas. Unfortunately, travel into the community was not possible due to COVID and some training began online.
The first team finally met in person at the Bairnsdale International Hotel run by Tom and Madlen Trch, members of the Rotary Club of Bairnsdale Sunrise. Participants were psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and counsellors from Gippsland Lakes Community Health, RAAF Base East Sale, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Orbost Regional Health, Mallacoota Medical Practice and other community practices.
This project was developed with the support of the combined efforts of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Rotary District 9800 and Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise Foundation Bushfire Appeal , Eastside Cluster Bushfire Committee (Melbourne) and East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid.