The Fire, The Virus, The Violence: Australia And The Lessons Of Natural Disasters

By Kathleen Uyttewaal on

Authors: Rebecca Hersher, Meredith Rizzo.

"Local officials and public health experts warn that domestic violence is spiking in Australia as the country deals with the aftermath of catastrophic fires paired with the global pandemic.

The fires killed at least 35 people and destroyed nearly 2,000 houses in the southeastern part of the country in 2019 and early 2020, leaving thousands of Australians jobless and still in temporary housing as the coronavirus pandemic swept through with its widespread lockdowns, illness and economic pain.

"People are dealing with change of income, change of accommodation relationship breakdown because of the strain of what's going on — potentially exposure to violence," warned Lisa Gibbs, a public health researcher who leads community resilience research at the Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety at the University of Melbourne, during recent testimony before Australia's Royal Commission hearings about the fires. "All of these factors undermine people's capacity to deal with what's happening."

Australia's concerns about the rise in family violence after a natural disaster stretch back to research conducted in the wake of Australia's deadliest fire event: the 2009 Black Saturday blazes......."


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